A-League Rev-Up: The Sydney derby with Wanderers' 'fantastic fans'

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The Sydney derby headlines a jam-packed A-League round which also features a blockbuster on Friday night and a coach under significant pressure

The pinnacle A-League regular season match is here - the Sydney derby - and it promises to be an absolute cracker at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.

In round three's other blockbuster, a winless Melbourne Victory travel to rivals Adelaide United in a Friday night special at Adelaide Oval, while a disappointing Brisbane Roar host an impressive Newcastle Jets in a game that could shape the future of coach John Aloisi.

Two of the competition's most attacking teams, Perth and Central Coast, go head-to-head on Sunday night in what will likely be a goal fest and league leaders Melbourne City will hope to continue their solid start to the season against Wellington.

The A-League is starting to hit top gear...


Arnold's bizarre Wanderers praise is a one-off...we hope


"I think it's completely inappropriate for my children, my family (to see that). I would have probably liked an (apology before) now, I haven't heard from them for four days, so I don't want one now," Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold said angrily after Wanderers fans displayed a homophobic banner featuring his image during February 2017's derby.

Cue the next Sydney derby eight months later, and Arnold was asked about his thoughts towards Western Sydney's supporters.

"The Wanderers fans don't bother me, they are great fans, they are fantastic and what they bring to the derby is great," he said.

Come on Arnie. That's not the kind of pre-derby banter we want to hear, and I bet Sydney FC's supporters will be disappointed, even though you quickly added after that Sky Blue fans were the best.

Also, not too sure what the photographer was thinking when he asked Brendon Santalab and Milos Ninkovic (in the photo below) to smile at each other - it's supposed to be for a bloody derby, not a family album.

Sydney derby

Bizarre lead-in aside, Saturday night's derby will again prove that it craps all over Melbourne's showpiece - and I can say that quite comfortably despite being a Victorian.

The almost 50-50 split of the crowd and brilliant sound created at a packed Allianz Stadium is much superior to a pro-Melbourne Victory crowd in an AFL venue.

Sydney FC have started the season with two wins but haven't looked anywhere near the best, and will likely be missing star import Adrian Mierzejewski because of a hamstring injury.

The Wanderers have played some of the best attacking football in the league so far; Oriol Riera looks to an absolute gun centre-forward, while Alvaro Cejudo and Roly Bonevacia have been menacing teams behind the striker.

We'll learn if a Popovic-less Wanderers are title contenders on Saturday night.


Predictable Victory face crunch match in Adelaide


Melbourne Victory haven't played that bad this season - but the fact is that they have lost their opening two matches at home to their two biggest rivals.

It doesn't get any easier on Friday night with a trip to Adelaide Oval to face Marco Kurz's Reds.

A third consecutive loss will be a huge setback in Victory's quest to win the premiership - Sydney FC were only defeated once during the entiriety of last season.

It feels as if Kevin Muscat's team have been too predictable so far. Melbourne City and Sydney FC shut down the space in attacking midfield and forced Victory to get the ball down the flanks and swing crosses in to a heavily outnumbered Besart Berisha.

The alarm bells aren't ringing just yet for Victory, but the warning signs are there.

Kevin Muscat Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC A-League 26012017

This is the fourth season playing this style under Muscat, and the club has just brought back stalwarts in Mark Milligan and Kosta Barbarouses.

Is the set-up starting to become stale?

Adelaide United have impressed with their work rate and organisation after a tough summer of training under new German coach Kurz.

They certainly possess the attributes to frustrate Victory but also have several weapons in attack.

Johan Absalonsen has impressed with two goals - including a stoppage time winner against Brisbane Roar last week.

While the club's other two new imports, Daniel Adlung and Karim Matmour, have also shown they will be good A-League players.


Goals, goals, goals in Glory-Mariners match


Perth Glory conceded an equal competition worst 53 goals last season so you would have expected them to strengthen their defence, right?

Wrong. Josh Risdon and Dino Djulbic have left the club to be replaced by Scott Neville and Jacob Poscoliero - who, with all due respect, are inferior players.

Sure enough, the Glory have conceded four goals in the first two matches and look well on the path to conceding 50+ goals again this season.

To be fair, their opponents Central Coast, appear to have worse defensive issues.

Paul Okon's side has shipped seven goals in two games, and despite recruiting Victory centre-half Alan Baro and bringing back veteran Josh Rose, their backline looks to be extremely leaky.

What does that mean for Sunday night's match? Goals!!

The Mariners possess brilliant young playmaker Daniel De Silva, who impressed immensely since returning the league.

Daniel De Silva Central Coast

Striker Asdrubal has also been in the right place at the right time for two goals already and looks to be a decent signing, while the midfield base of Tom Hiareij and Wout Brama looks solid.

Diego Castro is Perth's best player and among the top handful in the league, and he has the ability to win a match single-handedly both with a goal or an assist.

In-form forward Adam Taggart scored an impressive brace against Newcastle last weekend and will be a threat throughout the contest.


Aloisi and Brisbane face acid test against bogey side Newcastle


There isn't much positive news coming out of Brisbane and the pressure is starting to build on coach John Aloisi.

The Roar have lost their last six competitive matches - conceding 16 goals and only scoring four themselves.

Many critics believe their squad is too old, and this opinion was reinforced by poor performances against Melbourne City and Adelaide United, where they visibly tired more than their opponents after 60 minutes.

Incredibly, Brisbane have lost 10 of their 19 home matches against the Jets, which is an amazing considering the success levels of both clubs, particularly in recent years.

John Aloisi Brisbane Roar v Sydney FC A-League 19112016

Under new coach Ernie Merrick, Newcastle appear to be set for a big season and are desperately unlucky not to start the season with two consecutive wins.

There is a new found solidarity in their defence with the additions of Nikolai Topor Stanley and Daniel Georgievski, while the signings of Roy O'Donovan, Ronald Vargas and Dimi Petratos have added a potency to their attack.

O'Donovan has struck four goals in his first two matches and is the competition's most in-form striker.

A win for the Jets will prove they are finals contenders while the jungle drums will start beating for Aloisi if he fails to get a good result and performance at home.


Melbourne City's new solid look


Being defensively solid is something that usually hasn't been associated with Melbourne City - but under new coach Warren Joyce they certainly look it.

While they might not have played the most attractive football so far, they have been extremely effective in shutting down the opposition and getting the job done.

This City side appears to bear no resemblance to the free-scoring but defensively weak teams we have seen the past, and Joyce deserves credit for his work so far.

Warren Joyce Melbourne City

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Young attacker Bruce Kamau has started the season on fire with three goals, while winger Nick Fitzgerald is easily in career best form.

Their opponents on Saturday, Wellington, were impressive against Sydney FC last weekend but didn't pick up the three points.

They possess game breakers in Dario Vidosic and Roy Krishna, while Gui Finkler will return from injury for his first game of the season.

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