Welcome to the first taste of football for 2020, may the footy gods have some unreal football in store for us over the next twelve months. There’s a few teams who will be entering the new year with some demanding resolutions looking at resurrecting their season after some tight encounters denying them any success in the 2019 half of this W-League season. While other sides up the top will be sitting pretty and shrug off any ‘new’ resolutions, with a look to continue the train chugging how it’s been.
Normally mid-season reviews are my jam. However, a lack of time means I’ll largely be skipping over that this season.
Instead, buckle in because we’ve only a few rounds left and the kitchen sinks are probably going to be thrown out of the window as teams push to find success this season.
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne City
Who will win the time-wasting, I mean the ‘professional management of the game’ crown? Both teams love to spend the dying minutes of the game looking for a corner, just to seal a narrow victory. Neither are particularly fond of throwing caution to the wind and finding an additional goal to cement victory late in the match.
Brisbane’s best bet at this match will be looking to expose City on the counter through their wide players in Hayley Raso and Rylee Baisden. It’ll take quality and skill to really spread the City defence, but those two bombing down the flanks and the likes of Tameka Yallop in the middle, Brisbane will be in a prime position to get in behind City’s backline to cause a little bit of havoc.
For City, expect more of the same. They’ll hold the ball, be patient and only really strike when the mood hits them. The creativity of Emily van Egmond through the centre will again by looked at to link up with either Kyah Simon or Claire Emslie to crack a fortified Roar defence since Celeste Boureille moved to partner Clare Polkinghorne.
It’ll be tough for both sides. Roar will need to find the back of the net first for a small chance, if City score first it could be all over for the home side.
Prediction: Brisbane Roar 1 – 2 Melbourne City
Adelaide United v Perth Glory
Desperate stations for both clubs, with the fight to avoid the wooden spoon very well on. The clash already provides a taste of anxiety because points for either club will provide a welcome boost and perhaps a late run at resurrection. While a loss would spell utter disaster for a difficult campaign.
The high press of the Reds has been utterly captivating in the last few matches. Particularly finding their rhythm against Sydney, they’ve played some of the best football to the eye this season all without the result of goals. Unfortunately goals win matches, and the form of goal scorers in the squad at local NPL level in South Australia hasn’t translated to the W-League yet.
Against Perth, Mallory Weber has the chance to really stamp her authority on the competition. Her speed and ability to cut in or whip in a cross will be a handful for the Perth defence to handle. If Perth play a deep line to handle the long ball over the top, they could lose the ball deep, close to goal against the Red’s high press. The two engines of the sides midfield is going to be a match up to watch closely. Both have put in good, hard shifts over the last few matches. If Perth can find an edge here, they’ve shown they’re capable of producing goals out of very little.
Prediction: Adelaide United 3 – 2 Perth Glory
Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets
Both teams should be looking to rectify similar issues. Resolve the isolation of their front players, while maintaining their stability in defence. There’s little doubt the backlines of both clubs have been their saving grace with the mid-table fight heating up. However, it’s the creativity to break down other sides defences and find goal scoring opportunities that hasn’t been smooth for either.
The long ball game is what the Jets are all about. There’s no point asking them to change at this point in the season. If executed successfully, it works. The biggest requirement for this game plan is to have a number nine working hard the full ninety minutes, sniffing out opportunities out of nothing. The Jets have shown to have that in increments this season, but can they battle it out for a full 90 minutes against defenders of the calibre of Jenna McCormick and Emily Menges?
Natasha Dowie hasn’t fired the way she did in their Championship winning season last time out. Whether that’s because defenders are sticking to her like flies, or the balls from the wing isn’t hitting the same delicious tones is unknown, with both in equal parts likely to blame. Victory need to find a reliable source B. Against Perth Glory last weekend, that source was Amy Jackson, who provided a stunning, vintage performance. Can Jackson back that up? Otherwise someone else will need to step up to the plate.
Some matches are won on experience, and this match could very well swing in Victory’s favour for this reason. Add on Victory have an outside chance of pushing for a finals spot will only add further incentive.
Prediction: Melbourne Victory 1 – 0 Newcastle Jets
Canberra United v Sydney FC
The best match of the fixture list in any season, when Sydney FC travel down to Canberra. At least that remain mine. To crack this one, both sides will be looking at opposites of the spectrum on where to improve. Canberra will want to last the full ninety minutes, with their high, aggressive press and spring loaded attack. While Sydney will be in search of the quality football they normally reserve for the final ten minutes.
If Sydney are going to pull it together, it must begin in their midfield. On paper, theirs has to be considered amongst the best in the competition. Consecutive recent matches have suggested a different story, with this area of the park unable to control matches and thread the attack through the pitch. Rather Alanna Kennedy has been required from deep to be the side’s creative mastermind too often.
On the other hand, Canberra’s success this season can perhaps be honed down to their hard working midfield. An absolute engine room, Heather Garriock has pulled together what looks like an almost mixed-mash of very different players who have the ability to be game changers and control the middle. Somehow the balance is spot on for the type of football Canberra play, nitty-gritty, full of soul and a spark of the spectacular.
These are massive points up for grabs that could go a long way to dictating whether Sydney can sit on the tail of the top two, or third and fourth spot are both up for grabs. Canberra’s bound to put their noses ahead at some point in this match. Whether they can batten the hatches against the dying minutes assault Sydney often pull together is a different question. Either way, it’ll be tight.
Prediction: Canberra United 1 – 1 Sydney FC