All eyes are on the Harbour City after Round 4, where Frank Farina reportedly has only an injury crisis to thank for keeping him in a job following a poor start to the season1. Adelaide must turn style into substance (John Greco @ Pirtek)
You have to admire what Josep Gombau is trying to implement with Adelaide but he might need to tweak his style if the Reds are to be successful this season. They again dominated possession and had almost double the completed passes than opponents Western Sydney Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium. But the home side were obvious front-runners in the areas that count, creating a number of clear-cut scoring chances and netting the goals to take the three points. Unless the Reds can find a way to turn their eye-catching football into chances – and goals – there will be more weeks of near-misses and disappointment for Adelaide fans.
One thing you can't deny is the talent of Wanderers striker Tomi Juric, who just four weeks into the season is already looking like the buy of the year. The striking position was the only weak point of the Wanderers' debut season but in Juric they have a player who knows how to find the back of the net. If they can keep him fit and grounded as the hype and expectation grows, the Wanderers have every chance of going one step better than last campaign.
2. Jets refuelled, are they ready to fly? (Mark Hughes @ Hunter)
The Newcastle Jets are yet to register a win this A-League campaign but they have at least scored their first goal with Scott Neville poking home after a goal-mouth scramble before the Mariners gifted them an own goal. The relief in the team and around Hunter Stadium when Neville scored was palpable and with that monkey off their back, plus back to back good performances and the imminent return of marquee Emile Heskey, the Jet's season could be ready to take off.
3. Farina feeling the heat at goal-shy Sydney (Michael Washbourne @ nib)
Sydney FC may have been gallant in defeat against Perth Glory, but a third straight loss after only four rounds of the season is still a major concern for Frank Farina. The Sky Blues have not put the ball in the back of the net for over 300 minutes of football and appear to have few scoring options in their side despite the presence of superstar Alessandro Del Piero. Glory's early season form has been far from convincing, but Alistair Edwards' side is firmly entrenched in the A-League's top six and they are set to welcome former Chelsea and Arsenal captain William Gallas to Perth in the next fortnight.
4. Unconvincing Roar march on regardless (Dan Colasimone @ Suncorp)
Brisbane Roar went top of the table with one of those performances that denotes a team that is well in title contention. After being bullied by the Heart midfield in an opening stanza that finished 0-0, Brisbane came out for the second half with a slightly altered tactical structure and renewed vigour. Within minutes they were ahead through Henrique, and from that point on the Heart were chasing shadows. The Melbourne side showed commendable pluck to take the game to their hosts, but nevertheless ended up with another defeat on their ever-worsening away record. Curiously, Roar coach Mike Mulvey said after the match he wanted much more from his players, while the Heart's John Aloisi claimed his side were doing most things right.
5. Victory need to keep their foot on the gas (Iain Strachan @ Etihad)
Imagine what Melbourne Victory could do if they performed throughout the entire 90 minutes as they did in the first 30 minutes against Wellington on Monday, or the last 30 minutes away to Adelaide in Round 2. They were scintillating early on at Etihad Stadium this week, with James Troisi cutting through the Phoenix's non-existent backline at will. So what happened after the break? Two good headers from Mark Milligan and Adrian Leijer within 10 minutes of the restart was about as close as the home side went to adding a fourth, before they allowed Phoenix to dominate possession and pull a goal back, so nearly orchestrate what would have been a embarrassing capitulation for the hosts.
The Kiwi side has a real Jekyll and Hyde problem too, submitting meekly early on before terrorizing Victory late. Consistency is lacking in both camps early in 2013-14, and Kevin Muscat and Ernie Merrick must mount a search for it if they want to make an impact on the competition.
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