The fourth season of the A-League gets underway this weekend (August 15th through 17th) and to mark the occasion, here is the first of a (hopefully) regular series of previews.
Friday, August 15th
Newcastle Jets vs Central Coast Mariners
A repeat of last season’s Grand Final matchup. Despite Newcastle turning over a large number of players and the Mariners having several key stars out, this promises to be a tense affair after the controversy that marked the decider.
Saturday, August 16th
Sydney FC vs Melbourne Victory
Sydney have recruited heavily in the off-season, bringing in a number of big name players – most notably striker John Aloisi. Unfortunately, due to a combination of injury, suspension and Olympic duty, half the side is unavailable for this first round fixture against their traditional rivals. With all the club’s established forwards out, 17 year old Chris Payne is expected to make his debut as the home side’s lone striker.
Melbourne meanwhile are expected to be minus striker Archie Thompson, who was injured during the Olyroos short lived campaign in Beijing; while Billy Celeski is rumored to be set to step straight off the plane from China into the match.
Sunday, August 17th
Wellington Phoenix vs Queensland Roar
Wellington belied their last place finish in Season 3 to perform strongly in the pre-season Cup competition, losing on penalties in the final to Melbourne. It remains to be seen if they can maintain this form into the season proper, against a Roar outfit boasting plenty of youth and pace.
Prediction: Queensland Roar
Adelaide United vs Perth Glory
The perennial stragglers of the competition, Perth, travel to their nearest neighbor in an effort to kickoff this fourth season on a winning note. Adelaide have recruited some Samba flair in the off-season but, perhaps crucially, Diego and Agostino are expected to miss the opening match. Still, United should be too strong at home.
Prediction: Adelaide United