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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 17 December 2016
28 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 17 DECEMBER 2016 SPORT Top guns go head-to-head in Melbourne derby DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ISSN 1321-1676 9 771321 167062 PHOTO: ALEAGUE.COM.AU GEORGE STOGIANNOU In last week's round 10 A-League action, league leader Sydney FC fell short of exacting the revenge it desired against Melbourne City for its FFA Cup final loss 10 days earlier, but had to settle instead for a come-from-behind fiery 1-1 draw, which preserved its healthy six point lead at the top from City and maintained its unbeaten start to the season. The issue of simulation seems to be following Melbourne City of late, with winger Fernando Brandan creating a talking point after the Sydney match following his exaggerated reaction to an apparent contact by an opponent to his face. This followed Roar defender Jade North's brush with Bruno Fornaroli the week before. In this weekend's round 11, the spotlight once again follows Melbourne City, this time back to its home ground of AAMI Park, where it hosts Melbourne Victory in what is another highly-anticipated derby. After 10 rounds of the A-League, Sydney FC, the two Melbourne sides and Brisbane Roar have clear- ly been the most consistent sides of the competition, filling the top four places and putting a clear gap between themselves and the rest of the competition. Fifth and sixth spots on the table are up for grabs this weekend. Perhaps the most surprising result from last round was the Jets win in Perth, which ended the longest winless streak in A-League history. The Jets last won in Perth 11 years ago in the first year of the A-league in 2005/06. The Jets kicked off Rd 11 last night, hosting reigning champions Adelaide United, who crash landed after a first win of the season, losing 4-0 away to Brisbane Roar last week. Today's triple header kicks off in New Zealand. Wellington Phoenix v Western Sydney Wanderers, 5.35 pm, Sat 17 Dec, Mt Smart Stadium A place in the top six is up for grabs in this match as eighthplaced Phoenix hosts sixth-placed Wanderers. Just two points separate the teams, with hosts Phoenix having a game in hand. The Phoenix began the post-Merrick era on a positive note with a 3-0 home win over the Mariners, their third in fifth games. They face a stiffer challenge today in the Wanderers, who can pose a greater threat in the final third than did the Mariners. However, the Wanderers have just one win to show from their previous six matches, with coach Popovic recalling striker Kerem Bulut following the team's costly failure to finish several good chances in the 3-0 loss to Melbourne Victory last round. Melbourne City v Melbourne Victory, 7.50 pm, Sat 17 Dec, AAMI Park The Melbourne derby is deservedly the feature match of the round, with both teams going into the match in good form, each losing just one of their last six matches and occupying second and third spots on the ladder. The question to be answered is how far Victory has progressed since the two earlier losses to City this campaign (once in the league and once in the Cup). Victory appears to have strengthened its attack with Beister, Troisi and Beshart. The Albanian striker's hat- trick against the Wanderers last round brings him to the cusp of equalising Archie Thompson's 90-goal A-League record. The last time they met in the league, City's physicality seemed to overwhelm Victory. Victory put on a more spirited display the second time the teams met but City still triumphed in the Cup semi-final. Both teams go into the match with injury queries over key players Cahill for City and Rojas for Victory, who may both start on the bench. Perth Glory v Sydney FC, 7.00 pm, Sat 17 Dec, NIB Stadium Perth After a confident start to the season, the highlight of which was the smash and grab win over Melbourne City, Kenny Lowe's men have faltered in recent weeks, with just one win in the side’s last six matches, to bottom-placed Adelaide United. The loss to injury of marquee forward Diego Castro hasn't helped its cause. Still, losses in recent weeks to the teams outside the top six, with the Mariners and the Jets, doesn't bode well for the visit of undefeated league leader Sydney FC, against whom Lowe has yet to coach a Glory side to victory in Perth. Sydney remains a warm favourite to continue that trend, despite the loss through suspension of midfielder Josh Brillante and striker Matt Simon. The battle of Serb midfield maestros Ninkovic for Sydney and Marinkovic for Glory could be a highlight. Central Coash Mariners v Brisbane Roar, 5.00 pm, Sun 18 Dec, Central Coast Stadium Paul Okon's Mariners face a testing time ahead with their next four matches all against top four opponents, beginning with the Roar this week. The Mariners struggled with their lack of quality in the final third against Phoenix last week, and they look like they may face the same difficulty against a strong defensive unit in the Roar. The Roar has the wood over the Mariners, winning the last six encounters between these two and it's difficult to see that streak coming to an end on Sunday. The Mariners welcome back the experienced duo Nick Montgomery and Jacques Faty from injury, while Roar keeper Michael Theo also returns from injury.
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