As the A-League closes out the first third of the season, we’ll analyze how the teams are sitting on the ladder and who’s primed to click into gear over the next stretch of games.
Cream of the crop:
Sydney FC and Melbourne City have been the yardstick in which other teams should measure themselves in the 2016/2017 A league season.
Both teams have built up outstanding profiles. Sydney FC remains the only unbeaten team in the league and Melbourne City boast only 2 losses in their 8 games played.
Both teams have shown an outstanding penchant to defence. Sydney FC has only conceded 3 goals in 8 games! City are averaging conceding approximately a goal per game but when you have the league leading goal scorer in Bruno Fornaroli, you can afford to let one in per game because Bruno knocks in about a goal per game.
Middle of the pack:
Victory fans, we’re not apologizing for calling your team middle of the pack. Sure your team has offensive firepower out the wazoo, but the wins have predominantly come against teams that are in the lower tier of the league.
A Convincing victory over the Jets? the Wanderers? Wellington away from Wellington? Adelaide? I’ve just highlighted the bottom four teams on the ladder. Victory fans, until your team shows puts a convincing victory on its record they can’t be elevated to the level of Melbourne City and Sydney FC.
Brisbane are another strong contender to make a run. Brisbane aren’t strangers to the post season and with 13 points through 8 games are sailing a steady ship at this point in the season. With 3 of their next 4 games coming against teams such as Adelaide, Central Coast and the Wanderers, the Roar have the opportunity to push the Melbourne teams on the ladder.
Perth and Central Coast are smack bang at the bottom of the middle class. Which is really a testament to teams who have 3 and 2 wins respectively through 8 games this season. Perth knows where they need to improve, their defence. Letting in 16 goals in the season makes them the worst defensive side in the league.
Bottom of the ladder:
In terms of defensive inefficiencies, the Wanderers aren’t too far off the Glory. Conceding 15 goals and only scoring 9 gives the Wanderers the same +/- as the bottom two teams in the league. The Wanderers need to turn some of their draws into victories. At this stage 5 draws over 8 games is hurting Western Sydney.
Newcastle and Wellington sit in 8th and 9th respectively, however Wellington has a game in hand. Newcastle has a respectable +/- for a bottom tier team in -3. For Wellington, 2 wins, 5 losses and no draws. If Krishna is kept quiet, Wellington is kept quiet. Roy Krishna has scored 5 of Wellington’s 6 goals on the season. Any teams taking on the Phoenix should just focus their efforts on keeping Krishna quiet and their chances of winning will rise exponentially.
Current Wooden spooners and reigning A-league champions Adelaide United are mired at the bottom of the ladder.
Adelaide lost a few too many members of their premiership winning squad in Mauk, Djite, Kamau, Goodwin and Sanchez. Many believed Adelaide to be more competitive than they have been to date. 0 wins after 8 rounds? I don’t think any of us could have predicted that. Injuries haven’t helped this squad either. Cirio, Henrique, Marrone and Choi have found themselves on the inactive list.
This season is done and dusted for Adelaide, the cards just haven’t fallen for them and their fans shouldn’t be too disappointed. Seasons like this occur for squads from time to time. They should find solace in last year’s premiership, which will keep them warm at night.
What to look forward to:
At the moment the only teams who deserve or are capable of winning this season are Sydney FC and Melbourne City. Brisbane is making a case that it should get a seat at the big boys table. Likewise with Melbourne Victory who have the potential, but just need to click into gear against the better opposition.
The Keogh’s, Rojas’ and Brosque’s of the world just keep netting goals and the next stretch of games should really sift out the teams who don’t have a chance. However, it’s never too late for teams to make a run for it. The Wanderers are the kings of slow starts and then when everything clicks, powering their way up the table into a post season appearance. Could we see a surge from Newcastle or the Central Coast? Will Wellington learn to score without Krishna? Can Perth Shore up its defence and start making big moves towards the top of the table? There are some storylines to keep an eye on in the A-league in what should be an exciting season to come.
Written by Nik Hatzi