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Five Things we learned about Round Three

 

Melbourne turned navy blue, the Phoenix flex their muscle and two title favourites burst out of the blocks – this is the only place on the web where you learn 5 things from 4 A-League fixtures!  

Muscat’s mauling leaves City in need of sheik down

In layman’s terms, Melbourne Victory were very good while Melbourne City were very bad on Saturday night. The 5-2 demolition from older brother gave us a glimpse into which sibling was able to apply themselves under pressure on the big stage. City exposed Victory twice from set pieces, an achilles heel Kevin Muscat will have to get right if he wants to taste success in a competition that will taste blood in the water. For all the hype of Van’t Schip’s men, the navy blues had sharper teeth for the battle; Berisha and Thompson are far too lethal in this league to make naïve defensive mistakes. City’s midfield is dysfunctional, while David Villa’s early exit is emblematic of a club experiencing some very public growing pains.

Graham Arnold – tactical genius

Sydney FC’s 2-0 win away to Brisbane on Friday night stood out to most observers because of the spectacular nature of both goals. Marc Janko’s wonder strike from 40 metres out was almost matched in the second half by Dimitrijevic’s curving shot into the top right corner. But the real star of the night was coach Graham Arnold. The Champions were slightly off their game and with 2 losses were down on confidence, but Arnold cashed in spectacularly with a game plan of footballing perfection. Brosque man marked Luke Brattan out of the match, cutting off the Roar’s midfield supply. The Sky Blues were not wasteful or haphazard in their pressing either, it was calculated and strategic. They often say that football teams reflect the mentality of their manager. This Sydney squad is adaptable, ruthless and determined to win. In other words, Graham Arnold to a tee.

Jets yet to take off

Wellington’s 4-1 win over the Jets must have Phil Stubbins close to hitting the panic button. Going into a season where expectations for a finals appearance were at best optimistic, the signs are not looking good. Especially when taken into consideration their opponents on Sunday. The Phoenix are progressing well on the field. The midfield trio of Riera, Bonevacia and Rodriguez, combined with a front three of Burns, Brockie and goal scoring hero McGlinchey, makes the kiwi outfit a formidable foe. Watching Wellington games can now be considered entertainment, rather than a chore! Kew Jailens aside, no Newcastle player demonstrated any appetite for the fight. Edson Montano needs better service, otherwise these Jets won’t just stay grounded, they’ll be cut adrift from the pack.

United by name, United by nature

Can you hear that, the eerie silence? That’s the doubters of Gombau who were so adamant his style of tiki-taka could not work, would not work. But is this a true reflection of his philosophy? Mabill’s goal in the second half was a brilliant counter move from one end to the other. The Reds are not attempting to set possession records. The pace and precision of passing from Adelaide is of a greater standard than any other team in the league. Carrusca, Isaias, Cirio, Ferreira and Sanchez – these men are implementing Gombau’s vision perfectly, whether from patient build up play or quick counter attacks. As far as this column is concerned – beat Adelaide and you win the Golden Toilet Seat.

David Villa’s legacy to Australia

Villa’s shortened stint of a poultry four games in the A-League has been met with dismay, from fans of the club to supporters over the country. Perhaps this has opened our eyes to the fact we don’t need to rely on these gimmicks anymore. The league is able to stand on its own two feet. We’ve grown out of it. The likes of Damien Duff, Robert Koren, Marc Janko and Andy Keogh have come to this country with plenty of quality football left in their careers. For Villa to leave for marketing reasons exposes how hollow an exercise his stint has been. It should be quite simple for the FFA to abolish the guest player rule and only allow loans which would meet the minimum FIFA requirements. The A-League can market itself just fine.