Talking Points: City's mauling of the Jets the best performance of the season

Has there been a better performance in the Hyundai A-League this season than Melbourne City’s crushing 4-0 win away to Newcastle Jets on Sunday afternoon?

According to FOX Sports analyst Mark Bosnich, no other team's individual showing comes close.

“For me it was the best performance of any team this season,” Bosnich said after the game.

“I know it’s a big shout, Sydney (5-1 vs Brisbane Roar) comes to mind last week but I thought Sydney’s was more for 45 minutes against Brisbane.

“The most exciting game was Brisbane vs Melbourne City (4-3 Brisbane win), but the best performance for 90 minutes I saw here today.

“Today, I thought they were absolutely outstanding and a joy to watch.”

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City were a damaged outfit after their shock 3-0 loss to Perth Glory at home last weekend, but their crushing win over Newcastle was the perfect response to those who questioned their title credentials throughout the week.

It was a special afternoon for a number of City players but particularly Uruguayan duo Adrián Luna and Javier Cabrera who combined to score City’s first three goals on a day which showcased just what the pair of attackers are capable of.

Meanwhile, City goalkeeper Tom Glover put in a strong shift in his first start of the campaign after replacing Dean Bouzanis, who has struggled for form of late.

It was a move which City boss Erick Mombaerts made to keep both of his goalkeepers on their toes.

“I decided to change something,” Mombaerts said post-match.

Erick Mombaerts
Mombaerts was happy with Glover's showing against the Jets

“I have two good goalkeepers. Sometimes it’s good also to challenge them to keep motivated.

“The last game maybe it wasn’t good and we made mistakes, maybe I wanted to change something. We practiced (in) the last training week a lot about our mistakes.

 “(Glover) did well, especially on his strengths in the air he was good, so that confirms we have two very good goalkeepers.”

With their form now well and truly back on track, City will prepare to face Melbourne Victory in a tantalising Melbourne Derby at AAMI Park on Saturday afternoon (5pm AEDT), as they aim to keep up with Sydney FC at the top of the table while simultaneously compounding the struggling Victory’s misery.

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Sydney FC show they can win ugly

As City turned on the style against the Jets, the Sky Blues had to grind out an uncharacteristically tense and tight 1-0 win against the last-placed Central Coast Mariners on Saturday night.

When Kosta Barbarouses slotted home the opener in the 5th minute of play, Sydney looked set for another day out at Nestrata Jubilee Stadium.

But Alen Stajcic’s side reacted well to falling behind, tightening up defensively and testing the Sky Blues regularly in what became a difficult outing for the Champions.

The Mariners fought hard all game but Sydney managed to hold onto their one goal lead to the final whistle and despite their less than convincing performance, coach Steve Corica will take plenty of positives out of his side’s ability to win ugly.

So far this season Sydney have scored at will as they’ve bossed the majority of games but sometimes things don’t go exactly to plan, and that’s exactly what happened when the Mariners came to town.

Champions often need to show they can win in all kinds of ways and that’s exactly what the Sky Blues managed to do against the Mariners, extending their win streak to six games and setting up an interesting Round 11 clash with Wellington Phoenix, who are unbeaten in their last five.

Highlights: Sydney FC 1 - 0 Central Coast Mariners

Wellington a different beast from start of the season

Analysing Wellington’s first four games of the season alongside their next five is like comparing apples and pears.

Four losses to start the campaign spelled trouble for Phoenix boss Ufuk Talay in his first season as a top-flight manager, but he has since led his side on a five-game unbeaten streak of three wins sandwiched between two draws against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park in Round 5 and 10.

Wellington’s uplift of form has been a result of a number of contributing factors: the individual brilliance of Mexican creator Ulises Dávila has come to the fore, while Luke DeVere, Steven Taylor and Stefan Marinovic have created a stronghold between centre-back and goalkeeper which has become difficult to penetrate.

All the while Talay’s possession-oriented game style has begun to click with his two central midfielders gathering plenty of ball in spaces vacated by the free-roaming Dávila.

It’s a fluid game style which is helping the Phoenix cement themselves as a surprise finals contender, highlighted by their most recent hit-out against the Victory where Wellington made 539 passes; the most passes made by a Phoenix side since Opta began recording Hyundai A-League stats in 2012/13.

The Phoenix will face a stern test of their finals calibre when they face Sydney FC at Westpac Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Wellington played the Sky Blues in Round 2 and despite going down 2-1 they looked likely to take at least a point from the game until a red card to Liberato Cacace turned the fixture on its head.

But Talay’s side will take plenty of confidence from their first meeting of the season as they look to claim a statement win against the league leaders.

Highlights: Melbourne Victory 0-0 Wellington Phoenix

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Golden Boot race takes another turn

As Melbourne City and Sydney FC emerge as the front-runners for the Hyundai A-League Premiership, so do their respective star strikers in the race for the Golden Boot.

Jamie Maclaren became the fastest-ever player to 10 goals in a Hyundai A-League season on the weekend, scoring his 10th of the campaign in just his sixth appearance.

Adam Le Fondre, meanwhile, went goalless against the Mariners on Saturday evening but shares the lead with Maclaren with 10 goals from nine appearances for the season.

Le Fondre is enjoying the better form of late having scored five goals in his last three games while Maclaren found his way back onto the scoresheet against the Jets after Perth Glory kept him goalless in round 9.

It’s becoming more and more evident as the weeks go by that Maclaren and Le Fondre are out on their own in pursuit of the Hyundai A-League Golden Boot, but who will come out on top by the season’s end?

Roar frustration builds as the goals dry up

When Brisbane Roar dispatched four second-half goals past Melbourne City in Round 6 it seemed they may have put all their goal scoring woes behind them.

But three losses from the following four games – including a 2-0 loss to Western United FC at home on Friday night – have shown Brisbane’s ineptitude in front of goal is becoming more of a systemic issue than a fleeting statistical quirk.

The Roar are still yet to score a first half goal this season in nine attempts and despite enjoying 72% possession against United on Friday night they couldn’t breach Filip Kurto in goal.

Roar midfielder Jay O’Shea has crafted the most chances on goal of any player in the league (33), and despite Roy O’Donovan pulling his weight with six goals for the campaign, nowhere near enough is being done by the Roar in terms of finishing off their chances and taking advantage of their usually superior possession figures.

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Glory defenders lead the resurgence

Bottom of the table and facing a mini crisis two weeks ago Perth Glory have managed to turn it all around with back-to-back wins and clean sheets, and Tony Popovic has his defenders to thank for it.

Of the five goals scored in their two recent wins, Popovic’s central defenders have scored three of them; with Alex Grant, Tomislav Mrcela and Gregory Wütrich all proving very effective from set-piece routines.

The three centre halves have played together at the heart of Perth’s defence in the last two rounds after Mrcela’s return from injury, and in doing so have provided Popovic a trustworthy defensive combination which is garnering results at both ends of the pitch.

Celebrations were raucous as Grant grabbed Glory's second
Glory's defenders are doing the business this season

Berisha’s 100th Hyundai A-League win comes at the right time for United

Besart Berisha has scored three goals in his last two games against his former clubs in his 99th and 100th Hyundai A-League wins – how’s that for box office?

The Western United striker has returned to headline-writing best in recent weeks as United dispatched both Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar in back-to-back weeks, arresting their form slump and cementing their spot in the top six.

United sit in third place on the Hyundai A-League table but have at least one game in hand over all of their top six rivals, making every game a must-win if they are to keep up with the teams around them.

Berisha and United will now set their sights on a clash with the severely under-performing Western Sydney Wanderers at Bankwest Stadium on Friday night.

The Wanderers will be desperate to put an end to their five-game losing streak, but don’t expect to see any sympathy from Berisha who has shown against his former sides he leaves little room for sentimentality on the hunt for goals.