This article will give you a quick overview of the news and talking points heading into Round 24. I recommend reading through the official squads named for each round.
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- Adelaide regain Tarek Elrich from suspension and Pablo Sanchez from injury, while Awer Mabil has also been named despite reports in the Adelaide Advertiser that he would miss the game after re-injuring his quad against Sydney. Miguel Palanca is also slated to appear for the Reds despite being under an injury cloud. Marcelo Carrusca is out for another week or 2 with a quad injury, while Jordan Elsey is out for the season.
- Brisbane regain Luke DeVere and James Donachie (potentially) from international duty. Donachie, along with Shane Stefanutto, is under an injury cloud for at least the first of the Roar’s 2 games this round. Jade North and Michael Theo are both out injured for 1 week. Jerome Polenz is out for 3 weeks while Henrique is likely done for the rest of the season; he’s currently listed at 8 weeks. The Roar have been issued with a ‘please explain’ by the FFA after Thomas Broich played against the Mariners despite being omitted from their squad because he was ‘injured.’ Brisbane were defeated 3-1 by Suwon Bluewings in the Asian Champions League on Wednesday night – their line-up can be found here. Broich, Brandon Borrello and Andrija Kaluderovic were among the fantasy relevant players to play a full 90 minutes. As mentioned above, Brisbane play twice in this round.
- Central Coast regain Matt Simon from injury and Storm Roux from international duty. Jacob Poscoliero is a week off a return. Richard Vernes and Michael Neill remain out indefinitely.
- Melbourne City will welcome back Connor Chapman from suspension. On the injury front, Jacob Melling is still another week away, while there are longer waits for Robbie Wielaert (2 weeks), James Brown (6 weeks) and Ben Garruccio (7 weeks). Damien Duff is out for the rest of the season.
- Melbourne Victory welcome back Scott Galloway and Connor Pain from international duty while Jordan Brown is now out for an unspecified amount of time with injury. Despite being named in the squad, Nathan Coe will reportedly miss the game against Newcastle after coming off injured against the Phoenix. The Victory play twice this round.
- Newcastle have James Virgili and Scott Neville out injured for 3 weeks, while Jess Vanstrattan and Zenon Caravella are out indefinitely and neither Josh Barresi (injury) nor Mark Birighitti (loaned out) will feature again this season.
- Perth have Ruben Zadkovich out injured this round, while reserve keeper Jack Duncan returns from international duty. Denis Kramar may have been released now that the player he was an injury replacement for, Diogo Ferreira, is available again. Youssouf Hersi was expected to be out for the entire season, though he may soon make a shock return to the Glory side – meaning his injury replacement, Dragan Paljic, may have to be released. Young defender Matthew Davies has been released, while the loan of Mitch Nichols from Cerezo Osaka has been terminated, meaning he now returns to Japan.
- Sydney FC have a major concern in Terry Antonis, who may now be missing for the rest of the season with fears that his injury is worse than first thought. Currently he’s listed at 2 weeks. Shane Smeltz has another week of suspension to serve while Mickael Tavares will also miss this round through injury. Sasa Ognenovski, Ali Abbas, Corey Gameiro and Nick Carle are out injured for the rest of the season.
- Wellington regain Albert Riera from suspension, along with Vince Lia from injury. Joel Griffiths is out for the rest of the season after suffering an ACL rupture against Melbourne Victory, while Ben Sigmund just misses this round through injury. Josh Brindell-South is out for another 2 weeks.
- Western Sydney regain Antony Golec and Matthew Spiranovic, while Nikita Rukavytsya will miss this round through injury. Brendon Santalab and Brendan Hamill are out for the rest of the season, while Golgol Mebrahtu and Nick Ward are out indefinitely. Shannon Cole is about 3 weeks away based on estimations when his injury was first reported – currently no timeframe is listed. Yusuke Tanaka is in the squad as Cole’s injury replacement and may leave once Cole is fit (though he will still be on their ACL roster). The Wanderers drew 1-1 with FC Seoul in the ACL on Tuesday night – the players used can be found here. Of the more fantasy-relevant players, Kerem Bulut played 83 minutes and scored, Tomi Juric came on in the 64th minute, while Mark Bridge and Romeo Castelen both played the full 90 minutes.
Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets
- The Victory continued on their charge for the title by dispatching a disappointing Wellington 3-0. After a quiet period, Gui Finkler has caught fire, top scoring for the Victory this round with 13 points – meaning he now has 41 in his last 3, including 3 goals and 2 assists. Besart Berisha picked up 10 points after his previous 2 outings had produced only 2 points each, while Archie Thompson now has 29 points in his last 4, since returning to the starting XI. Fahid Ben Khalfallah has been somewhat overshadowed by his teammates in recent weeks, though he still managed 6 points against the Nix. It was also a good round if you had a Victory defender thanks to the clean sheet, though owners of Nathan Coe would have been understandably livid when he was subbed off injured after 58 minutes – 2 minutes shy of qualifying for the clean sheet bonus. After the home match against the Jets, the Victory travel to Brisbane on Wednesday for the first of two consecutive games against the Roar – meaning there’s no time like the present to load up on the Victory’s guns. With the Premiership in Victory’s grasp expect their fantasy stars to produce the goods in the remaining games, all of which are quite favourable. RUN HOME: Newcastle (H), Brisbane (a), Brisbane (a), Mariners (H)
- The Jets huffed and puffed against the Glory, yet for all of the opportunities they created, Newcastle were unable to score – for the second week in a row losing, somewhat harshly, to a title contender. The Victory in Melbourne likely represent a much sterner test than either Perth or Adelaide provided in Newcastle, so it’s probably not wise to bring in any of their players this week unless you sense a massive upset (it would easily be the biggest this season). The Jets did of course hold the Victory to a 2-2 draw earlier in the campaign, and fought hard only to lose to a late goal on their last visit to Melbourne against Muscat’s men. If you are tempted on taking the plunge on a Jet this week, Andrew Hoole is your man – he has 8 points in his last 2 games for the Jets, with an outstanding hat trick for the Olyroos sandwiched in between. The Jets haven’t set the fantasy world alight this season, nor would they be expected to in their 3 incredibly tough remaining games. RUN HOME: Victory (a), Sydney (H), Wellington (H)
Perth Glory v Sydney FC
- Perth needed 6 points from their games against the Wanderers and the Jets, and they got them. Currently sitting level on points with the Victory, Perth will now need to show against fellow title chasers Sydney that they belong at the top. A number of Glory players that have disappointed in recent weeks fired against the Jets – Andy Keogh picked up 14 points, which was as much as he had scored in the prior 4 rounds combined. The clean sheet (Perth’s first in 6 games) was great news for those who still have any Glory defenders, Dino Djulbic leading the back 4 with 10 points, thanks to his man of the match award. Nebojsa Marinkovic scored a stunning goal (well, all his goals are stunning) to pick up 7 points. With 2 home games up next, then a trip to face the Wanderers in Round 27, perhaps Perth’s bid for the Premiership isn’t quite done yet. RUN HOME: Sydney (H), City (H), Wanderers (a)
- Sydney did everything but score against Adelaide, and they were punished for it when Mabil struck a late winner for the Reds. While Sydney’s home form is shaky, they are still unbeaten on the road. If they want to get back in the hunt for the Premiership, they’ll have to repeat their Round 13 win in Perth – a place where only they, Wellington and Adelaide have won this season. Despite totally dominating the game against the Reds last round, it was a poor week fantasy-wise for the Sky Blues. Bernie Ibini top scored with 7, and only he, Alex Brosque and Nikola Petkovic (both 5 points) scored above 4. Despite starring for Austria with 2 goals and an assist in 2 games, Marc Janko was unable to find the back of the net (legally), meaning he is now goalless in his last 2 A-League matches (scoring just 2 points in each). Worryingly, he’s not even managed a shot on target in either game. Sydney play their last 3 away from home, however given that they are undefeated away, perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise. RUN HOME: Perth (a), Newcastle (a), Wellington (a)
Adelaide United v Brisbane Roar
- Adelaide were incredibly fortunate to escape from Sydney with all 3 points, with Eugene Galekovic being the hero for Gombau’s men. Galekovic scored an incredible 16 points, with the shot-stopper managing 9 saves, an assist and picking up the man of the match award. With Tarek Elrich suspended last round Dylan McGowan kept his spot in the side once again, however expect the cheapie defender to drop to the bench this round now that United have a full-strength defensive outfit to choose from. Aside from a clean sheet for the defenders and Awer Mabil’s fantastic winner earning him 6 points off the bench, there wasn’t much of note fantasy-wise in the Reds’ win in Sydney. Cheapie midfielder Bruce Kamau earned his first A-League start, however a return to fitness by Pablo Sanchez and Miguel Palanca will probably see him lose his spot in the XI. Sergio Cirio only picked up a solitary point against the Sky Blues; the absence of Marcelo Carrusca means he may be deployed in midfield, instead of on the left wing where he is most effective, so it may be best to avoid picking him as a ‘point-of-difference’ for the last 3 rounds of the regular season. The Reds will be looking to pick up 9 points from their remaining games to keep the pressure on the Victory. RUN HOME: Brisbane (H), Wanderers (a), City (H)
- Brisbane came Roaring back to life after a run of 4 defeats with a 6-1 hammering of the Mariners. Steven Lustica was the surprise fantasy star of the round, amassing 28 points thanks to a hat trick, an assist and the man of the match honours. Before rushing out to bring him in, consider that Lustica had scored 28 points total in his last 11 games prior to last week’s explosion. So it’s more than likely just a one-off for the Roar midfielder. The match nonetheless was a fantasy field day for Brisbane’s attackers, with 6 players scoring 7 or more. Behind Lustica was Andrija Kaluderovic with 15 points and Thomas Broich – frustratingly listed as injured by the club – scoring 10 points. The other fantasy heroes included Jean Carlos Solorzano and cheapie forward Brandon Borrello (both 8 points), and midfield starlet Devante Clut (7 points). A trip to Adelaide represents a much tougher test, however the Roar did manage to win 1-0 on their last visit to the City of Churches. This game will be followed up on Wednesday with the first of two consecutive games at home to the Victory, so if the difficulty of these fixtures doesn’t dissuade you, the chance to capitalise on Roar players doubling up is there. Michael Theo’s continued absence may mean coaches can consider playing Jamie Young this week – though can we really trust the Roar after they told us Broich was out injured last round? After 3 tough games against Adelaide and the Victory, the Roar finish the season at home to the struggling Jets. RUN HOME: Adelaide (a), Victory (H), Victory (H), Newcastle (H)
Central Coast Mariners v Western Sydney Wanderers
- The Mariners came crashing down to earth after a run of decent performances, during which they were unlucky to lose to both Adelaide and the Victory away from home. Mariners players haven’t been particularly good value in fantasy this season anyway, and the hammering they suffered in Brisbane certainly didn’t do much to dispel that notion. After a promising start following his move to Gosford, Fabio Ferreira certainly isn’t scoring the points a player worth $311k should be, while there’s little among his teammates to raise the eyebrows of fantasy coaches on the look out for a hidden gem. After a final home game against fellow battlers the Wanderers this week, the Mariners face trips to title chasers Melbourne Victory and Wellington before ending their season, having failed to make the finals – so it’s probably best to avoid their players entirely. RUN HOME: Wanderers (H), Wellington (a), Victory (a)
- Western Sydney were unlucky not to pick up more than a point against Melbourne City, however the game was a poor one from a fantasy perspective – aside from scorer Yojiro Takahagi’s 14 points, no Wanderer scored above 3 points aside from Mateo Poljak with 4. Due to rotations, ACL participation and poor form in general, Wanderers players don’t really make for great choices for fantasy coaches. Furthermore, all Wanderers players will be useless in fantasy once the finals begin anyway, and there are games against contenders Adelaide and Perth to come, so it’s probably best to just avoid them. RUN HOME: Mariners (a), Adelaide (H), Perth (H)
Melbourne City v Wellington Phoenix
- City look comfortable in 6th despite failing to pick up 3 points against the Wanderers and Brisbane winning last round. Nonetheless, if they want to avoid a collapse they’ll have to pick up points against 3 title contenders in their remaining matches. No doubt Aaron Mooy will be crucial to their hopes of staying in the top 6, though the playmaker could only manage 6 points last round – that’s a quiet week by his standards. Harry Novillo (Damien Duff’s injury replacement) was the star with a goal and 9 points, and is someone to consider if you want something different. Connor Chapman is back this week, so hopefully he’ll help to keep the defence’s solid run going – City have conceded just one goal (last week) in the previous 4 games. Before jumping on any City defenders though, consider the difficulty of their last 3 games – they’ll have their work cut out for them to keep those 3 teams out, especially with the last 2 being on the road. RUN HOME: Wellington (H), Perth (a), Adelaide (a)
- Wellington’s title bid has come undone with consecutive 3-0 defeats at home to other contenders Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory. The return of Nathan Burns and Michael McGlinchey made little difference as Merrick’s men were once again swept aside – Alex Rodriguez was Wellington’s top scorer with only 4 points. The big guns – Burns, McGlinchey, Roly Bonevacia and Roy Krishna – will all need to step up and fire if the Phoenix are to have any chance to reclaiming top spot. City away will be a tricky trip, while 3 points will be needed at home to Central Coast before Sydney visit once more. RUN HOME: City (a), Mariners (H), Sydney (H)