In July I spoke with Ben Sigmund about defending in the A-League.
Although four rounds have passed, Adelaide United, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC appear to be realistic title contenders this season, as only goal difference separates them heading into Round 5.
The first and last time Adelaide were able to notch 10 points in the opening four rounds, they went on to finish as premiers in the opening season.
For Sydney, the last time they were able to reach 10 points this early, they too went on to not only win the premiership but also the championship.
Victory may not have been able to equal their best start to a season, but like Adelaide and Sydney before them, they also won the double the last time they amassed 10 points in the first four games.
So the question remains, who will and won’t be able to follow that start with silverware?
Team of the round
A mid-week FFA Cup match for Victory against Perth Glory saw them knocked out and also lose key personnel.
Given Phoenix’s good run of form, and injuries and suspensions plaguing Victory’s starting lineup, Nix fans would have felt more than confident heading into this fixture.
Although the likes of Besart Berisha and Matthieu DelPierre were missing, Victory versus Phoenix was still shaping up as the match of the round given both sides’ A-League form.
Unfortunately for the Phoenix, they were unable to deliver as Victory continued their undefeated start to the season by winning comfortably 2-0.
Players like Connor Pain, Dylan Murnane and Scott Galloway all stood up to provide Kevin Muscat with more headaches as to the make-up of his weekly starting lineup.
With key players fit to return, the depth of Victory should act as a concern for all A-League opposition.
Player of the round
No hat-trick hero or assist king this week, but there was one player who, within the space of four minutes, changed the course of a match. It was none other than Perth Glory’s Jamie Maclaren.
It appeared at times last season this youngster had the talent to one day play for the Socceroos but that form never eventuated.
Although only a cameo of only 24 minutes, it’s performances like these from young Australians that are required more consistently as we continue the search for our next big star.
Now before we get too far ahead of ourselves, as many do, one performance like this does not warrant selection but it does warrant a keen eye.
For Jamie Malcaren, fingers crossed cameos like this become more frequent and game time is extended.
Supporters of the round
Melbourne Victory’s North Terrace appear to be getting back to the good old days where they were the envy of all other active supporter groups.
With 23,827 rocking AAMI Park on the eve of Melbourne Cup, Wanderers fans will have to ensure they don’t drop the ball as active support could be on the up once again.
Last week’s burning questions answered
“Can David Villa help City to their first win of the season before he leaves to New York?”
No. Although City started the match with a bang, it all fell apart as Adelaide began to flex their muscle and run away winners 1-2, leaving City and David Villa winless.
“Jets coach Phil Stubbins talks a big game, but can the team show they can walk the walk?”
No matter what the Jets do they just can’t seem to win. Perth Glory remained in the match throughout proceedings and it was only a matter of time until the Jets defence cracked.
What hasn’t aided the Jets to begin their season is the fact they’ve not played a game at home.
Thankfully that changes this week as the Jets are set to play four home fixtures in the next five weeks, which will hopefully help for the sake of the Jets faithful.
If their home form over recent seasons is anything to go by then it could be a very long season for Jets supporters.
“Are we once again underestimating the Central Coast Mariners? Their match against Sydney may tell us more.”
Their match against Sydney proved the Mariners do not have the squad or depth to take on the best this season. In three matches, they have only managed to score one goal with the other coming from a Phoenix mistake.
They lack the attacking options and midfield of previous seasons. It would appear Michael McGlinchey was a huge loss for the Mariners and it was no wonder they fought hard to keep his services.
Usually when everyone underestimates the Mariners they tend to prove everyone wrong, but I believe the time has come where Mariners fans can stop providing the typical response of “don’t underrate us”.
“And finally, we know Victory are more than deserving of favouritism, but can the Phoenix notch their first win against them in Melbourne?”
Unfortunate for Phoenix fans they were not able to secure their first win against the Victory in Melbourne. Despite being plagued by injury and suspensions, Victory proved too good for our Nix across the ditch.
Nix now face the Wanderers who are on cloud nine after being crowned Asian Champions League winners.
Burning questions ahead of Round 5
Who will come out on top: Adelaide or Sydney?
ACL is over for now, so can the Wanderers re-focus and get their A-League season back on track?
Will Roar become the first team to lose four in a row to begin the season?
City have a squad full of promise. With each round passing without a win, does the pressure mount for John van ‘t Schip to prove his worth?
With the knot officially tied and having now caught back up with all football, thank you for once again joining me. Join me again next week as I bring you the round 5 wrap.