A Tale of Blue Cities
The Big Blue has returned for its third installment of the 23/24 A-League campaign. Ufuk Talay’s Sydney FC will be geared up for redemption against a powerful Melbourne Victory side, who currently sit 2nd on the A-League ladder. Their last meeting in December was one to remember for Victory fans after their side embarrassed Sydney FC in a 3-0 whopping at AAMI Park.
Melbourne Victory remains the only club undefeated after 13 rounds in the A-League this season. Despite that impressive achievement, they also have the most draws (7) out of any club in their competition. This comes after a 1-1 top-of-the-table clash vs Wellington Phoenix last weekend. Victory was gifted a man advantage right before the stroke of halftime after a red card was shown to Tim Payne for a dangerous tackle.
TIM PAYNE IS SENT OFF!His initial yellow card is later upgraded to a red after VAR review 🟨➡️🟥#WELvMVC is live and exclusive on Paramount+ 📺 pic.twitter.com/oZU3xI19Bw
— Paramount+ Australia (@ParamountPlusAU) January 19, 2024
Tony Popovic’s side created many chances but couldn’t find the net until substitute Connor Chapman got the goal at the 80th-minute mark. It appeared Victory would go into the top spot until Wellington levelled the scores after a late and controversial penalty.
It’s the 92nd minute, 10-men @WgtnPhoenixFC are 1-0 down in a top of the table clash and then THIS happens 😳When his side needed him most, captain Alex Rufer was 𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐥𝐝 to keep the ‘Nix atop the Isuzu UTE A-League 🎯
A crazy finish at Sky Stadium!#WELvMVC #ALM pic.twitter.com/0cRCp5h7MY
— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) January 19, 2024
Melbourne Victory has been without the A-League 23-24 top scorer, Bruno Fornaroli, due to the Asian Cup. He will be sorely missed by MVFC fans in the Big Blue this weekend and will most likely be replaced with Chris Ikonomidis.
Sydney FC come into this fixture having won 4 of their last 5 games. Over the weekend, the Sky Blues featured in their biggest win of the campaign, so far – a 4-0 victory over Newcastle Jets. While the defense kept their first clean sheet of the season, the attack starred on the night featuring the best from Joe Lolley and Max Burgess.
Lolley brought his goal tally up to 8 this season, proving once again he is one of the most prolific attackers in the league. And Max Burgess responded to his first start of the season with two goals and an assist.
Burgess buries a third for @SydneyFC 💥Some spectacular counter-attack from the Sky Blues is finished off by Max Burgess, who heads home his first of the season #SYDvNEW is live on Paramount+ 📺 pic.twitter.com/V4QFgTNFJo
— Paramount+ Australia (@ParamountPlusAU) January 19, 2024
Sydney FC now sit in the top 6 for the first time this season after their disastrous start to the 23/24 campaign.
Watch Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC live on Paramount+ at 7:15pm Friday night (AEDT).
Can The Jets Do It Again?
Newcastle Jets will host Wellington Phoenix this Saturday evening at McDonald Jones Stadium. Last time these sides met, Newcastle caused the upset of the season handing Wellington Phoenix their first loss in a 3-0 demolition back in Round 7.
Going into Round 14, Newcastle upholds a strong home record and is coming off a big win against Brisbane Roar. Despite the ‘Nix being an undoubted A-League powerhouse this season, Newcastle may prove to be their bogey team this Saturday.
Newcastle bounced back after the heavy loss to Sydney FC on the weekend with a win against Brisbane Roar on Tuesday night. Apostolos Stamatelopoulos led from the front and bagged a brace to bring his season total to 10 goals in 12 games. He is now only 3 goals behind the league-leading goal scorer, Melbourne Victory man Bruno Fornaroli.
As stated previously, McDonald Jones Stadium has been a fortress for Newcastle Jets this season, only losing 1 of their 5 games at home this season. Their next two home games against Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory will be decisive fixtures for their hopes for finals football as we approach the halfway mark of the season.
Wellington Phoenix sits at the helm of the A-League ladder after a dramatic draw against 2nd place Melbourne Victory. Despite being in the top spot, Wellington’s recent form is showing signs of decline. In the last 4 games, they have conceded 9 goals and have only won once.
It is fair to say that recently the ‘Nix haven’t looked like the champion side that fans have seen at other times this season. This week, they must go without their right wingback Tim Payne after receiving a red card last week against Melbourne Victory. If Giancarlo Italiano’s side wants to remain at the top, they must provide a strong display across the ditch this Saturday evening at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Watch Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix live on Paramount+ at 7:50pm Saturday night (AEDT).
The Mariners Dock In Top 4
The Central Coast Mariners have been in immense form recently and now sit in 4th place only 4 points behind the top spot on the A-League ladder. This week, they host Brisbane Roar, who have been struggling in recent weeks. If the Mariners can get the three points in Gosford, they will be one step closer to retaining the A-League trophy.
The Mariners extended their unbeaten streak to 9 games over the weekend with a win over their 2022-23 Grand Final counterpart, Melbourne City, in a very heated affair. Theoharous opened the scoring 1-0 in the second half to grab his first goal in the Yellow and Navy. Celebrations in Gosford were cut short by a Steven Ugarkovic goal in the 79th minute to level the terms. But it was Angel Torres who proved to be the Mariners’ hero again when he netted a runaway goal in the 88th minute to give his side the three points.
The rivalry was marked by a bench-clearing brawl in stoppage-time where Storm Roux from Central Coast was shown a red card for his part.
Bit happening here 🌶️Benches are emptied and it's all in. Amongst all the chaos, Storm Roux is sent off 🟥#CCMvMCY is live now on Paramount+ 📺 pic.twitter.com/6kQGgyL3X2
— Paramount+ Australia (@ParamountPlusAU) January 21, 2024
It appears December Coach of the Month, Mark Jackson, is starting to settle into his role in the Central Coast after his shaky start in the A-League.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been such a good week for Brisbane Roar fans. A 3-1 loss to Macarthur on Thursday night after going down to 10 men. Then, it was déjà vu as they fell short to Newcastle Jets midweek in a 3-1 loss after going down to 10 men again. After those two losses, Brisbane have 6 defeats in their last 7 games. It has been difficult for the Roar to find form after ex-head coach Ross Aloisi took up the job opportunity in Japan and left the club mid-season. However, news has come in midweek appointing Ruben Zadkovich, Brisbane Roar Assistant Coach.
Former Perth Glory head coach and Isuzu UTE A-League champion Ruben Zadkovich has joined Ben Cahn's staff at @brisbaneroar 🟠🦁DETAILS 📰 https://t.co/qr732PFV8T pic.twitter.com/v7oYMtwsUC
— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) January 23, 2024
The ex-Perth Glory manager will find himself beside Ben Cahn at the dugout for the remainder of the 23/24 season. Will he be the one to take Brisbane Roar out of the rut they find themselves in?
Catch all the action from the Central Coast Mariners v Brisbane Roar live and free on 10 Bold, 10 Play, and Paramount+ from 7pm Saturday night (AEDT).
Glory's Away Drought Is Over
Last weekend, Perth Glory took on Western Sydney Wanderers at CommBank Stadium and emerged with a memorable victory that was 15 months in the making. The previous time Perth Glory won an away match was on the 23rd of October 2022 against Central Coast Mariners. 18 away games and 15 months later, to the delight of many Western Australian football fans, Glory broke the drought last weekend at CommBank Stadium to upset 3rd place Western Sydney Wanderers.
A moment 𝟏𝟓 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡𝐬 in the making ⏰💜 It was a long time between drinks, but boy was Perth Glory’s first away win since 2022 sweet 🙌🎥 Watch the highlights now: https://t.co/SHr2VPjVGV pic.twitter.com/Z3PXbGhUwG
— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) January 20, 2024
Stefan Colakovski put Glory ahead in the 34th minute with a tidy finish, then the win was sealed by David Williams in the 87th minute to send the away fans into ecstasy. It was a gritty, hard-fought away win and could mark a changing point for the mindset of Perth Glory’s squad.
The WA side sits second last on the A-League table and will hope to extend the gap between them and last place, Western United, with another win this weekend.
Sunday afternoon, Perth Glory will travel to Macarthur and take on the Bulls, who ended a streak of their own last weekend. Macarthur FC was on a 6-game-winless streak before travelling to Suncorp for a rainy Thursday night fixture against the Roar. The Bulls took home all 3 points in a 3-1 victory where they seemed in control for the entirety of the game. Goals from Ulises Davila, Raphael Borges Rodrigues, and Jed Drew gave Macarthur a 3-0 lead before the hour mark.
The match was a very important win for Mile Sterjovski’s men to bring them back to winning ways. After a strong start to the season, Macarthur’s performances have declined in recent months. They will be out for blood against Perth Glory, who completed a brilliant second-half three-goal comeback to win 3-2 the last time these two sides met in December.