A-League Rev-Up: Wanderers chance to inflict crisis upon Sydney FC

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The Sydney derby headlines an A-League round full of intrigue

After a week dominated by expansion, the football is finally back and there isn't much tastier a battle than a derby between Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC.

League leaders Perth Glory face a tricky trip to an improving Newcastle Jets, struggling Brisbane Roar host a Melbourne Victory side shooting for six wins in a row and both Adelaide United and Melbourne City will be keen to bounce back with a win in their clash.

While in the lower reaches of the table, Wellington Phoenix will be keen for a repeat of their stunning performance against the Sky Blues as they welcome a Central Coast Mariners outfit that appears to be slowly gelling.

Get revved up - round eight promises to be an absolute cracker...


Wanderers chance to inflict crisis upon Sydney FC


 

Sydney FC

It's an incredble statistic - since January 2014, Western Sydney Wanderers have only beaten Sydney FC in the A-League on one occasion - the Sky Blue's only defeat of their 2016-17 league campaign.

To put it in further perspective, Sydney FC have won 10 of the last 15 derbies in an extraordinary domination of such an important fixture.

But Saturday night's edition at ANZ Stadium is the first meeting between the rivals in a long time that you can give the red and black a strong chance of winning.

After two seasons of Sky Blue invincibility in the A-League regular season, Graham Arnold's replacement Steve Corica has had a rocky start to life as a head coach.

Since the FFA Cup final defeat against Adelaide United, the Sky Blues have only won two of their past six matches but most concerningly they have been defeated twice at their temporary Kogarah home by Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix.

The Wanderers, under German coach Markus Babbel, have been inconsistent and far from impressive also - but looked to have improved in their 2-0 win over Central Coast Mariners last week.

A quick look at chatter on social media sees Sky Blues fans starting to get worried about their teams fortunes this season.

Imagine if they added a derby loss against their most hated rivals to this season's poor form - after half a decade of being the 'king' of Sydney.


Victory who? Perth Glory train steams into Newcastle


Chris Ikonomidis Perth Glory

Most of the talk this season has been about Melbourne Victory and the quality of football they are producing led by Keisuke Honda and Ola Toivonen.

But despite Victory winning five matches in a row, Perth Glory still sit atop the A-League ladder - two points clear of Kevin Muscat's side.

Tony Popovic has brought a stunning brand of disciplined, defensive football to the Glory, with quality players such as Diego Castro, Chris Ikonomidis and Andy Keogh able to inflict a counter punch on their opposition at any time.

Glory have conceded seven goals in seven A-League matches under Popovic - a stunning turnaround from the same team that gave away 50+ goals over the past two seasons.

With Castro starting to reach full fitness, and Ikonomidis setting the competition alight, there is only reason to think Perth's attack will continue to improve.

The same positive vibe hasn't been surrounding a Newcastle attack that has failed to fire this season after being so prolific last campaign.

Ernie Merrick's side have suffered with the eight-game suspension handed to star striker Roy O'Donovan for his grand final fly kick on Lawrence Thomas.

However the tide may be turning on the Hunter, with O'Donovan set to return next week on the back of a solid 2-0 win against Brisbane last weekend.

Brazilian attacker Jair also got off the mark for the club with his first goal in 14 months and NPL signing Kaine Sheppard impressed in attack.

Expect Ernie to go for Perth's throat with free flowing attacking football, while Popovic's Glory will set up to not concede and wait for the chance to strike the other way.


The battle of the...battlers


Mark Rudan Wellington Phoenix

What's the deal with Mark Rudan's Wellington Phoenix?

They are capable of conceding three goals at home and losing, like they did against Wanderers and Adelaide, yet they can travel to Sydney and annihilate the premiers 3-1.

We'll learn a lot more about the Phoenix and their opponents Central Coast Mariners during Saturday's match at the Cake Tin.

Unfortunately, it's the first of three battles between the two teams most likely to win the competition wooden spoon, and is an opportunity for one to get the jump on the other.

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The Mariners have been improving of late but are still yet to record a win in their first seven league matches - which is one of the worst ever starts by a club to an A-League season.

While it's a long trip to Wellington, the Phoenix have shown they can be weak in front of their own fans and this represents a huge chance for Mike Mulvey to kickstart their campaign.

On the other hand, Mark Rudan will be keen to show that the win over Sydney FC was no fluke and that his team are improving by the week.

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