David Zdrilic’s A-League Round 15 Preview

Adelaide United v Melbourne City | Thursday, January 12, 7.50pm (AEDT), Coopers Stadium, Adelaide

Adelaide’s season went from bad to worse this week with Reds fans’ openly critical of the club’s lack of investment in the playing squad.

Fans voiced their concerns following the team’s 2-0 loss to Victory on Saturday which prompted the club to release a statement in reply trying to explain their transfer policy.

The fans have every right to voice their opinion as long as it’s done in a respectful manner and I don’t think the club’s reply eased their concerns. 

If Adelaide are to turn their season around they really need to do some good business during the transfer window but even then, it may be too late.

They have Asian Champions League to worry about as well and that may become their focus for the remainder of the season.

Speculation continues over the vacant City coaching job currently occupied by interim coach Michael Valkanis.

Valkanis held the same position at the Reds when John Kosmina stepped down so he’ll be eager to add another win to the victory he picked up over the Wanderers last week.

There have been plenty of names thrown around to take over including Merrick, Kewell, Popovic, Milicic and Lampard but I don’t think the club will rush to make a decision.

Ante Milicic was a former assistant coach at Heart and is now assistant to Ange with the national team so he would be an ideal candidate.

KEY BATTLE: Eugene Galekovic v Bruno Fornaroli

Galekovic (pictured above) has loads of experience and will need every bit of it to help his team out of the mess they’re in.

Fornaroli will look to kill off the wounded Reds and I can see him grabbing a goal or two.

The Verdict 

City have too much quality and the Reds have too many problems both on and off the park at the moment so City should win this one. 

Unibet Odds: Adelaide United 3.35 Draw 3.80 Melbourne City 2.05

Tip: Melbourne City 

Correct score: Melbourne City 2-1

Melbourne Victory v Brisbane | Friday, January 13, 7.50pm (AEDT), AAMI Park, Melbourne

Five straight wins now for the Victory after a relatively slow start to the season and the form of key players such as Besart Berisha and Marco Rojas has been key to their great run.

James Troisi (pictured above) has also had a huge impact on the Victory this season and his finish against Adelaide was sublime. 

Keven Muscat has done a great job to reinvigorate his squad and they’re making a serious push up the ladder and look to be the biggest rival to the Sky Blues.

After a great run of 10 unbeaten it’s been two straight losses for the Roar, the most recent against the Jets.

But it was great to see Tommy Oar finally get back on the scoresheet with Jamie Maclaren (pictured below) adding the other goal from the spot.

KEY BATTLE: Besart Berisha v Jamie Maclaren

Berisha is once again up against his former club which always adds that extra motivation.

Maclaren (pictured above) has continued where he left off last season and will be crucial to help Roar get back to winning ways.

The Verdict 

Victory are in top form and I expect that to continue. They’re strong at home and will take advantage of Roar’s current slump. 

Unibet Odds: Melbourne Victory 1.74 Draw 3.85 Brisbane 4.80

Tip: Melbourne Victory 

Correct score: Melbourne Victory 3-1

Wellington v Central Coast | Saturday, January 14, 5.35pm (AEDT), Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Phoenix striker Roy Krishna (pictured above) scored the A-League's 4000th goal against Perth last week but then threw away all the great work when he was sent off for a reckless challenge. 

Krishna was gifted his 8th goal this season by Perth keeper Liam Reddy and will be missed.

Despite his absence, there’s still plenty of quality in the Phoenix side and with Wellington performing much stronger at home, they should be able to create a lot more this week.

The Mariners became the first team to score twice against Sydney FC and could have had more in what was a very entertaining match played in hot conditions.

The match could have been over in the first 20 minutes if Sydney took their chances but the Mariners kept themselves in the match and were unlucky not to get more out the match in the end. 

Paul Okon has done a good job moulding this squad in difficult circumstances and he’ll continue to force his possession-based build up play.

This has enabled teams to catch them out on the counter and this game will be no different.

KEY BATTLE: Kosta Barbarouses v Roy O'Donovan

O'Donovan (pictured above) has scored seven goals and is always dangerous which he again highlighted against Sydney FC. Barbarouses has pace to burn and when he fires, Wellington play well.

The Verdict 

The Mariners have been improved over the last two weeks but still concede too many goals. There’ll be chances for both sides in this one but Phoenix will come out on top. 

Unibet Odds: Wellington 1.55 Draw 4.50 Central Coast 5.75

Tip: Wellington 

Correct score: Wellington 3-1

Sydney FC v Western Sydney | Saturday, January 14, 7.50pm (AEDT), Allianz Stadium, Sydney

The Sydney derby is one of great match-ups in the A-League and the question is will we see a repeat of the first derby earlier this season where Sydney ran out 4-0 winners?

In this game, anything is possible. The Wanderers are in big trouble at the moment without a win in five games and out of the top 6 while everything is going right for the Sky Blues.

But Sydney conceded two goals against Mariners and it could have been more, showing rare vulnerability in defence.

This is something Graham Arnold will address very quickly as he knows how easily things can turnaround. But at the other end, they’re absolutely on fire.

With Bobo (pictured above) scoring goals and Ninkovic in sensational form, there’ll always be goals when Sydney play.

The loss of Seb Ryall will definitely be felt as it come on the back of Matt Jurman’s transfer to the K-League.

Add to that the suspension of Josh Brilliante and defensively there’ll have to be changes with the possibility of O’Neill playing at the back again or one of Sydney's youth players promoted.

The Wanderers have signed Terry Antonis on loan which is exciting news for the A-League, made even more so considering he is a former Sky Blues player.

And with another former Sydney boy Vedran Janjetovic set to start, there’ll be plenty of spice in this match.

Western Sydney’s big problem though is in the striking department where they’re sorely missing Brendon Santalab due to suspension.

And now that Bulut has left the club, the only recognised striker is youngster Lachlan Scott.

Sydney exposed the Wanderers in the second half in the derby earlier this season, and Tony Popovic will be working to keep things tighter this time round. 

KEY BATTLE: Bobo v Vedran Janjetovic

Bobo scored a double against the Mariners and has seven for the season so he’ll be one to watch while Janjetovic (pictured above) will be under huge pressure against the club he recently left under bitter circumstances.

I’m sure the Sydney crowd will be on the keeper’s back so he’ll need to block that out or else Bobo and co will have a field day.

The Verdict 

Wanderers have a terrible record in recent derbies having not won in three years but when you factor in the current injury and roster problems at Sydney, then this match could end all-square.  

Unibet Odds: Sydney FC 1.67 Draw 3.90 Western Sydney 5.40

Tip: Draw 

Correct score: 1-1

Newcastle v Perth | Sunday, January 15, 5pm (AEDT), McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

After an impressive road win for the Jets over the Roar, confidence is sky high, particularly when you factor in the amount of goals and chances they’ve been scoring and creating recently.

The Jets beat Roar 4-0 in round 2 and again got the better of the Aloisi boys.

Andrew Nabbout (pictured above) is playing some excellent football at the moment. He’s slick, tricky and can finish which he showed over the weekend. And with Andrew Hoole now adding goals from open play, the Jets have become a force to be reckoned with.

Perth have steadied the ship in the last couple of weeks and it’s been their key men who have stepped up to turn things around.

Despite conceding a soft goal against Wellington, Liam Reddy has been a standout this season, but the goals from Rostyn Griffiths and Adam Taggart (pictured below) were key to the victory last weekend.

KEY BATTLE: Andrew Hoole v Adam Taggart

Hoole and Taggart (pictured above) both scored last week and will again be key men for their sides.

With home advantage, Hoole will come out on top and steer his side to victory

The Verdict

The Jets defeated Perth back in round 10 and created enough chances to win five games. It’ll be a similar scenario here with the Jets too strong.

Unibet Odds: Newcastle 2.55 Draw 3.50 Perth 2.75

Tip: Newcastle 

Correct score: Newcastle 3-1

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