Chelsea’s No.9 shirt has become something of a poisoned chalice in recent years, with holders of the shirt often struggling to fit in or make an impact at Stamford Bridge.
An absorbing week of A-League football saw fantastic crowds, stunning goals and individual performances that changed and won games.
These are the men that made the difference in Round 19.
1. Filip Kurto (Wellington Phoenix)
After a week off thanks to a stomach complaint, the Pole returned to the Phoenix line-up to replace the unlucky Oliver Sail.
It was as though he hadn’t missed a minute of training or preparation and Kurto has arguably become one of the most proficient and effective goal keepers in the competition.
The Victory threw everything bar the kitchen sink at the Phoenix goal and Kurto was near perfect in his dealing with each and every situation that arose. Another wonderful game from the custodian.
2. Scott Galloway (Adelaide United)
Not everyone will agree with Galloway’s selection in the team of the week. Yes, his Adelaide team were soundly beaten by an improving Wanderers yet his game was another in what is becoming a long line of excellent and consistent performances.
After club hopping from the Victory to the Mariners and then spending a year in Wellington, the 23 year-old is finally starting to fulfil his potential. In addition to the impressive defensive unit of which he is a part, Galloway has expanded his game to become a dangerous player going forward on the left for the Reds.
He was one of Adelaide’s best in a disappointing loss.
3. Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Newcastle Jets)
If in need of a man to stand stoic and resolute, I cannot think of a better A-League candidate than Topor-Stanley.
Once again the 33 year-old exhibited the skills and application that led Ernie Merrick to want him in the centre of the Jets defence.
Even with Jamie Maclaren on board, the Melbourne City attack was not enough to consistently threaten the Topor-Stanley led defensive unit of Newcastle and as the Jets build a late run for the finals, the form of the big man in the centre is playing a key role.
4. Brendan Hamill (Western Sydney Wanderers)
Despite making little or no sense in his post-match interview, Hamill was superb in the centre of defence in the Wanderers win over Adelaide.
Ryan Kitto, George Blackwood and Craig Goodwin created their fair share of headaches for the Western Sydney defence and the 26 year-old led the two young men on his right with aplomb and kept the Wanderers back line in shape and alert.
It was exactly what the Wanderers have been missing for some time and a fitting response to some of the defensive lapses that have seen the red and black let points slip late in matches.
5. Sam Graham (Central Coast Mariners)
Mike Mulvey knew he had some quality on his hands when he signed the 18 year-old Englishman during the January transfer window and it hasn’t taken long for his belief in the young man to be rewarded.
After just a handful of matches, Graham played a vital role against Sydney on Sunday afternoon, in a match that the Mariners could easily have won.
His work in the air was excellent and repelled many Sydney FC attacks. In that heat? Still acclimatising? A brilliant performance.
6. Jason Davidson (Perth Glory)
The definition of an A-League headache for every team bar Perth Glory, is Jason Davidson. What a season he is building and with finals and silverware still in play, it could become a season he will never forget.
The trouble he causes down the left is one of Perth’s best assets and the 27 year-old’s ability to sneak in behind and whip threatening crosses into the area makes him one of the most dangerous providers in the competition. Another brilliant game.
7. Liberato Cacace (Wellington Phoenix)
As the Phoenix ride the wave of success and results in 2018-19, one of the cornerstones of their play has been the young Kiwi on the left side of the pitch.
Already capped by the national team, the 18 year-old from Wellington has more than made his mark on the A-League this season and up against the best of the best when the Victory visited Auckland on Friday, Cacace rose to the occasion and produced another polished performance in both attack and defence.
8. Milos Ninkovic (Sydney FC)
If you happened to miss the Sunday afternoon clash between the Sky Blues and the Mariners, watch it. Not only for the wonderful effort put up by the boys from Gosford; in a match they were expected to lose by some margin, but also for the magnificence of Ninkovic in midfield and his work down the left edge.
Something just wasn’t quite right early in the season, despite Sydney FC’s reasonable results. The Serb now looks back to absolute top form with the finals looming. A dangerous thought for opposition defences.
9. Roly Bonevacia (Western Sydney Wanderers)
With consecutive wins, the Wanderers have made huge strides in the last few weeks and Bonevacia has been at the core of that improved play.
The Dutchman has a history of some astonishingly good football, often followed by periods of absence as his involvement drops.
His challenge will be to keep his form at its current level in order to send the Wanderers into the off-season break with some tangible hope for next season. A new contract for 2019-20 might also be a motivation.
10. James Troisi (Melbourne Victory)
The 30 year-old South Australian showed everyone for the umpteenth time just what he is capable off when he crafted a brilliant game against the Phoenix in Auckland on Friday.
With Ola Toivonen out and Keisuke Honda still slowly coming back from injury, there appeared to be a potential weakness in the Victory attack. However, Troisi has fed Kosta Barbarouses, Kenny Athiu and Elvis Kamsoba consistently over the last month and without Terry Antonis by his side on Friday, he was at it again.
11. Jair (Newcastle Jets)
We’ve all been waiting a long time for the Brazilian to find his mojo and he finally did against City, in a week where the depth of the Jets squad was to be well and truly tested.
Playing their third game in eight days, the Jets made significant changes and started with Jair. He lifted and showed the fans just why he was brought to the Newcastle, with a 22nd minute goal and a controlled performance where his passing was precise and measured.