This article will give you a quick overview of the news and talking points heading into Round 26. I recommend reading through the official squads named for each round.
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- Adelaide are once again without Awer Mabil and Marcelo Carrusca, who are both listed as 1 week away from a return. Jordan Elsey is out for the season.
- Brisbane will regain Daniel Bowles from suspension and Jerome Polenz, Jade North and Brandon Borrello from injury, while Michael Theo is potentially on the verge of returning. Jean Carlos Solorzano will miss this round – according to the squad list, he’s ‘unavailable’ to play. Luke DeVere is also out injured – he is awaiting scans to determine the severity of the injury he picked up against Melbourne Victory. Shane Stefanutto (4 weeks) and Henrique (indefinite) are longer term concerns.
- Central Coast regain Jacob Poscoliero from injury, while Richard Vernes and Michael Neill are out indefinitely. The Mariners have been eliminated from finals contention.
- Melbourne City lose both Jacob Melling and Kew Jaliens to a 1 week suspension for accumulating 8 yellow cards, while Safuwan Baharudin is out for a reason yet to be confirmed. Robbie Wielaert is listed as 2 weeks away from returning. James Brown (5-6 weeks) and Ben Garuccio (6-7 weeks) are out for longer periods, likely the rest of the season given there are only 5 weeks remaining. Damien Duff is out for the season.
- Melbourne Victory have 3 injury concerns – Jason Geria, who must pass a fitness test in order to play this weekend, and Nathan Coe and Jordan Brown, neither of which have a clear return date. If Coe is ruled out for the rest of the season, Kevin Muscat may look to sign an injury replacement keeper. Gui Finkler is available again after missing the midweek game against Brisbane.
- Newcastle will be missing James Virgili and Scott Neville for another 2 weeks, which means they – along with Mark Birighitti (on loan), Josh Barresi and Jess Vanstrattan (all injured) – are likely out for the rest of the season given that the Jets have been eliminated from finals contention. Zenon Caravella – who won’t be offered a new contract by the Jets – is out for 1 week.
- Perth have Ruben Zadkovich and Youssouf Hersi out injured for another 2 weeks. Despite being named in the squad, Rostyn Griffiths has accumulated 8 yellow cards and is likely to be suspended for this round. Perth have been eliminated from finals contention for intentionally breaching the Salary Cap.
- Sydney FC welcome back Shane Smeltz from suspension and Mickael Tavares from injury, while Terry Antonis is at least another week away from a return. Sasa Ognenovski, Nick Carle, Ali Abbas and Corey Gameiro are all out for the rest of the season.
- Wellington welcome back Ben Sigmund, while Josh Brindell-South is a week away from being available again. Joel Griffiths is out for the rest of the season.
- Western Sydney have a number of injuries. Brendon Santalab, Golgol Mebrahtu, Nick Ward and Brendan Hamill are all out for the rest of the season. Nikita Rukavytsya’s return date is unknown. Shannon Cole is around 2 weeks from a return – meaning he is likely to miss the rest of the A-League season due to the fact that the Wanderers are eliminated from finals contention.
A note about finals: it is important to remember that the top 2 teams will have a bye in the first week, meaning their players won’t score points in Fantasy A-League.
Unfortunately, we currently do not know who those 2 teams will be – with Melbourne Victory, Sydney FC, Wellington and Adelaide all in contention – making it almost impossible for fantasy coaches to plan ahead. It is nonetheless likely that Victory will finish in the top 2 given that thanks to superior goal difference, 3 points from their remaining 2 fixtures should be enough to clinch the Premiership.
We do however know that Melbourne City and Brisbane will play in the first week as they cannot finish above 5th or below 6th – so their players are safe picks for that first elimination round of the finals.
Perth, Western Sydney, Newcastle and Central Coast cannot qualify for finals and therefore their players will cease to score points after Round 27.
Wellington Phoenix v Central Coast Mariners
- The Phoenix were held scoreless for the 3rd straight game by Melbourne City, however Nathan Burns wasted an excellent opportunity to break this drought when he tamely kicked his penalty straight to Tando Velaphi. As a result Burns picked up only 4 points, while Roy Krishna (4 points), Michael McGlinchey (3 points) and Roly Bonevacia (5 points) were all somewhat disappointing and surprisingly out-performed by holding midfielder Albert Riera (7 points). The clean sheet (their first in 5 games) was obviously good news if you own a Wellington defender, while keeper Glen Moss top scored for the Nix with 12 points. The Phoenix can still finish first if other results go their way, however they’ll likely need maximum points against Central Coast this week and Sydney FC next – both games are at home.
- Central Coast were eliminated from finals contention last week despite seeing off the Wanderers 1-0. Josh Rose hit the winner and picked up 14 points, while the clean sheet was a welcome boon for any owners of Mariners defenders or Liam Reddy. Given that the Mariners really don’t provide any strong fantasy options and now face title chasing Wellington and Melbourne Victory away in the remaining 2 rounds, it would be a major gamble to bring in any of their players now. And if you have any of their players in your side, it might be wise to look at offloading them before finals begin.
Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC
- The Jets pulled off the upset of the season last round, by defeating title favourites Melbourne Victory 1-0 at AAMI Park. Erratic forward Edson Montano (8 points) scored the winner after a mistake by Nick Ansell. If anyone was brave enough to field a Jets defender or keeper Ben Kennedy, they were rewarded with a clean sheet bonus (the Jets’ first in 6 games, and only their third for the season). With Newcastle eliminated from finals contention, it’d be rather risky to bring in any of their players now – and it’s not as though they have set the fantasy football world alight this season anyway. On top of that, the Jets now face another title contender in Sydney FC, before travelling to Suncorp Stadium to face likely finalist Brisbane Roar in the final round.
- Sydney FC reaffirmed their Premiership credentials by knocking off the Glory 3-0 in Perth. While star striker Marc Janko recovered from his previous 2 failures by providing an assist and managing 2 shots on target to earn 7 points, it was Bernie Ibini who stole the show with 17 points. This is Ibini’s biggest haul for the season and only the third time he’s hit double figures. It also builds on the 7 points he scored last round, after a long run of games (7 to be exact) where his highest return was just 4 points. Alex Brosque also had a great round, picking up 14 points after scoring a brace. Like Ibini, this was only Brosque’s third double-figure score for the season. The clean sheet – Sydney’s third in their last 7 games – was a great result if you have any of Vedran Janjetovic, Seb Ryall, Jaques Faty, Nikola Petkovic or Matt Jurman, however with just 1 minute played in the last 3 games, it seems Alex Gersbach has lost his spot in the side. After travelling to Newcastle, a trip to Wellington awaits in the last round – should Sydney maintain their undefeated season away from home, a spot in the top 2 is a strong possibility.
Western Sydney Wanderers vs Adelaide United
- Western Sydney’s season from hell suffered another hit with a 1-0 defeat by fellow strugglers Central Coast. With the Jets upsetting the Victory, the Wanderers now sit at the bottom of the table with just 15 points earned from 25 games. Only Kerem Bulut and Romeo Castelen – 2 of the few Wanderers worth considering in fantasy – scored above 4 points. With the Wanderers lacking fantasy value and regularly rotating their line-up, the fact that they are already eliminated and will be facing facing 2 strong sides in Adelaide and Perth (albeit both at home) in the remaining games, makes it highly unappealing to trade in any of their players now.
- Adelaide, not for the first time this season, threw away 3 points while vying for top spot. Despite losing to a well-organised Roar for the second time at Coopers Stadium this season, United had more than enough chances to win the game, but yet again were unable to convert enough to take the points. Eugene Galekovic followed up his sublime performance against Sydney with a howler to gift the Roar a goal, meaning he scored just 1 point – a week after picking up 16. The 2 Reds players with scores of note were Craig Goodwin (9 points) and Pablo Sanchez (7 points), who both found the back of the net. However, both are frustrating choices in fantasy as neither has a set position in the team’s starting XI. Cirio also picked up a serviceable 6 points, however he too is not a strong choice thanks to having to perform roles besides playing on his favoured left wing when others are out injured. The absence of Marcelo Carrusca may cost the Reds a top 2 spot, however they would be expected to pick up 6 points in their remaining games against the Wanderers away and then Melbourne City at home.
Brisbane Roar vs Melbourne Victory
- Brisbane began their double-round with a shock 3-2 victory over Adelaide. In the win against the Reds, Jack Hingert was surprisingly the Roar’s top scorer with 8 points – thanks to his first ever goal for the team. Andrija Kaluderovic (7 points), Brandon Borrello (6) and Jean Carlos Solorzano (5) all were serviceable, while owners of Roar defenders or Jamie Young would have been frustrated by the Roar conceding 2 late goals, robbing them of a clean sheet. But most annoyed of all would have been owners of Daniel Bowles, who was sent off in stoppage time for fouling (an offside) Nigel Boogaard – thus scoring -2 and missing the Victory game midweek. With Jerome Polenz fit again, it is unlikely that Bowles will regain his spot in the starting XI. Despite losing to 2-1 Muscat’s men in midweek, there were still some positives for Roar players in fantasy. Matt McKay’s goal saw him add 9 points to the 6 he scored against Adelaide, while Kaluderovic picked up another 7. Frustratingly, Thomas Broich could only manage 4 in each game, for a round total of 8 points, while Borrello pulled out late after picking up an injury in the warm up. Brisbane once again match up against the Victory at home this weekend, followed by another home game in the final round against the Jets.
- Melbourne Victory were shocked by the Jets at home in their first game last round, losing 1-0 after wasting a number of chances to score. Gui Finkler (7 points) and Matthieu Delpierre (6 points) were the only 2 Victory players to score above 4 points, so it was a disappointing night in a game where the Victory were expected to win comfortably. The outing against Brisbane was a much happier one, with the 3 points moving Victory ahead of the pack and in touching distance of the Premiership. Unfortunately for his owners, Finkler pulled out with injury and did not add to his score of 7 from the Jets game. Fahid Ben Khalfallah vastly improved his tally for the round with 10 points, while Carl Valeri and Besart Berisha’s strikes earned them 9 points each. Be wary of bringing in Laurence Thomas after Nathan Coe’s injury – as noted in the team news, Muscat may elect to sign another keeper for the finals. After another trip to Brisbane, Victory should win their last remaining game at home to the Mariners, likely clinching the Premiership in the process.
Perth Glory vs Melbourne City
- Perth’s removal from the finals series by the FFA seemed to impact their performance against Sydney, with the Glory slumping to a 3-0 defeat. Despite fielding a strong team the Glory were swept aside, meaning none of their players scored more than 3 points in Fantasy A-League. It would be highly advisable to avoid bringing in their players, while if you have any in your team, consider moving them on. Though Melbourne City at home and the Wanderers away represent winnable games, Glory players may be psychologically affected by the controversy surrounding the club, as seemed the case against Sydney FC – and after that, they’ll miss finals anyway.
- Melbourne City were unable to find a way past Wellington at home, however Perth’s removal from the finals means their top 6 spot is safe regardless of how many points they pick up in the remaining games. Tando Velaphi top scored for City and was the only one of their players to score double figures, thanks largely to the clean sheet and his penalty save from Nathan Burns. City now have conceded just 1 goal in their last 5 games, meaning their defenders are in great form, as is Velaphi. However 2 stern tests (assuming Perth are still motivated) remain, with away games against the Glory and Adelaide in the last 2 rounds. Besides the defenders and keeper, City’s midfield unit all scored reasonably well against the Nix, with Robi Koren and Jonatan Germano picking up 7 points and Aaron Mooy and Erik Paartalu earning 6. Harry Novillo and Josh Kennedy were both disappointing however, scoring 1 and 3 points respectively. While City likely face only tough games for the remainder of their season, at least we know they will play a game in each of the next 3 weeks.