Central Coast will be up against it when they host Brisbane on Sunday afternoon.
The Roar are currently riding an eight-game unbeaten run which sees them sit fourth on the table. Such a run of form would normally have you believe they would be higher up but a closer look at their results sees they have notched an incredible four straight 1-1 draws prior to last week’s thumping of Adelaide United.
The Mariners have enjoyed a good start to the season when you compare it to last years, however, they have now dropped back-to-back games by considerable margins and that is something that won’t be pleasing to coach Paul Okon.
One of the big reasons for Brisbane’s run of form has been consistency. While last season they struggled to perform away from home, coach John Aloisi seems to have done remarkably well in correcting that problem. They have lost just once on the road this season while they also have a win and three draws to boot. Importantly, their sole away win was against the Central Coast back in Round 3.
We also cannot forget the efforts of Michael Theo between the posts as the Roar goalie has been in arguably the best form of his career in the last six to eight weeks.
STARTING TO STRUGGLE?
There is no doubt that Okon has done a wonderful job so far with the Mariners but are they starting to drop off? After surprising Perth Glory 2-0, which was their first clean sheet in 36 games, they’ve been pumped 4-1 and 3-0 by WSW and Wellington respectively.
Defensively they haven’t been able to solve the problems of last season either as they are conceding an average of two goals a game to be last in the A-league for that stat. Last season they conceded a whopping 70 goals!
HOW IT PANS OUT
Brisbane pose a lot of questions to rival defences but last week’s 4-0 result over the defending champions was just the third time that the Roar scored more than one goal in a match this season.
If they are to continue their good run of form then they must begin to put them in the back of the net far more regularly. They will definitely get the chance to do that here as the Mariners defence is certainly shaky at best.
To their credit the Mariners have extracted the best out of their playing roster so far. Their issues lay in both defence and attack where they are averaging just a goal a game – definitely not good enough for a team which doesn’t have a great deal of depth.
If you are looking purely at stats then Brisbane are certainly going to be hard to beat. They have won six straight games against the Central Coast and have kept them scoreless in four of those including the match earlier this season.
The biggest issue for them will be their form on the road. Of the teams that made the finals last season, Brisbane clearly had the worst away record and although they haven’t lost more than once away from Suncorp this season, the performances for the most part haven’t been enough to get a win either.
THE TIP: DRAW – we are going for a bit of value here as we aren’t totally convinced of Brisbane’s form on the road just yet.