Brisbane Roar and coach Robbie Fowler have parted ways, with the Liverpool legend not returning to the A-League club.
League leaders Sydney FC are facing Brisbane Roar at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium at 7:30pm (AEDT) on Friday.
Both teams are coming off the back of wins and are in great form with Sydney winning their last four games and Brisbane winning their last two.
Big signing news came out during the week for Sydney FC as they have secured defensive playmaker Luke Brattan for two more seasons.
Brattan has stepped up his game at the Sky Blues. He has been deployed as a deep playmaker to great effect and has consistently dropped into the defensive line to help break the attacking line of press. He has started every game he has been eligible for and has shown his quality both in defence and attack.
However, in worse news, Ryan Teague is set to depart the club as he looks to move into Europe, with Portuguese club FC Famalicao predicted to be the destination. He has departed Australia for a medical.
The Sky Blues are unbeaten in 11 games, with the most recent coming in a 3-0 win over rivals Melbourne Victory.
Adam Le Fondre boosted himself in front of Jamie Maclaren in the race for the golden boot with the opening goal, set up by Alexander Baumjohann before Kosta Barbarouses made it two, with both Baumjohann and Le Fondre involved in the goal. Baumjohann then finished the Sky Blues off after strong determination from Luke Ivanovic and a pass from Milos Ninkovic allowed him to pass the ball into the back of the net. Baumjohann was later red-carded.
Sydney FC currently sit in first place on the ladder, ten points clear of their nearest rivals Melbourne City, who drew with third-placed Perth Glory last weekend. They also have a game in hand over City, however, their second bye doesn’t come until Round 20.
The Sky Blues house the top scorer Adam Le Fondre, who has 14 goals in 14 games this season, while Kosta Barbarouses is also in the top ten with seven, level with Ola Toivonen in seventh place. Barbarouses also appears in the top ten in assists, this time in second place along with teammate Alex Baumjohann. They are level on five assists.
Sydney sit top in goals scored with 33, four more than second-placed Melbourne City. They have conceded the second least goals (13) but still have only managed three clean sheets this season.
The big blow from the Big Blue for Sydney FC comes in the form of a red card to Alex Baumjohann, which will see him suspended for two games – this one as well as next week’s derby against the Western Sydney Wanderers. He is currently in Germany dealing with family issues but is looking to be back in time for their clash against Central Coast Mariners three weeks from now.
Another massive blow comes in the form of Michael Zullo, who is set to miss another month of football after aggravating a previous calf injury.
Sydney FC predicted starting line-up
GK: Andrew Redmayne
LB: Joel King
CB: Alex Wilkinson
CB: Ryan McGowan
RB: Rhyan Grant
CDM: Paulo Retre
CDM: Luke Brattan
LAM: Milos Ninkovic
RAM: Anthony Caceres
ST: Adam Le Fondre
ST: Kosta Barbarouses
The bad news for Brisbane Roar comes with Connor O’Toole departing the club with immediate effect. The promising 22-year-old left back has departed the club to join the Newcastle Jets on an 18-month deal.
Brisbane Roar are on their best run of the season so far. They are unbeaten in their last five games, drawing against Newcastle Jets and Melbourne City while beating Western Sydney Wanderers, Wellington Phoenix and Central Coast Mariners.
They narrowly beat the Mariners, clutching a 1-0 win thanks to a Lewis Miller deflection off a cross from Corey Brown, who was credited with the goal.
Brisbane Roar sit seventh on the table, only one point away from Western United in the sixth position. They also have put a five-point gap between themselves and eighth-placed Melbourne Victory.
Their only scorer in the top ten comes in the form of Roy O’Donovan, who has been left out of the match-day squad in recent weeks despite being eligible. He has six goals in 12 games.
Brisbane Roar have scored 16 goals this season, the eighth most in the league. They have conceded 19, which is also the eighth most. They have obtained four clean sheets this season, putting them in third place, level with Melbourne City.
Brisbane will most likely play the same 11 that beat Central Coast Mariners, despite needing to improve tactically.
There was often a massive pocket right behind the D when someone in Brisbane’s defensive line had the ball, but it was largely ignored. Scott McDonald and Brad Inman would often come wide to collect the ball while the two-man midfield halted Jay O’Shea from making runs into pockets, a job that he usually excels in.
Brisbane Roar predicted starting line-up
GK: Jamie Young
LCB: Macaulay Gillesphey
CB: Tom Aldred
RCB: Scott Neville
LM: Corey Brown
LCM: Jay O’Shea
RCM: Jacob Pepper
RM: Jack Hingert
LW: Brad Inman
ST: Dylan Wenzel-Halls
RW: Scott McDonald
Despite Sydney FC having the edge on paper, Brisbane Roar is on a good run of recent form and may continue their unbeaten streak against the league leaders with a draw.