Preview: Brisbane v Newcastle
Both Brisbane and Newcastle will be looking to bounce back after losses in the previous round, but whether the Jets can overcome their very difficult schedule remains to be seen.
Date: Saturday January 16 Kick-off: 8:00pm AEST, 9:00pm AEDT Venue: Suncorp Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 1HD & 1 and Sky Sport 1. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Head-to-head Played 15: Wins: Brisbane Roar 6, Newcastle 6, Draws: 3
Previous meeting Brisbane Roar 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Suncorp Stadium, Round 13, October 2009
Past five matches:
Brisbane Roar: Round 18: Brisbane Roar 0, Adelaide United 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 19: Brisbane Roar 2, North Queensland 0, Suncorp Stadium Round 20: Central Coast 2, Brisbane Roar 3, Bluetongue Stadium Round 21: Gold Coast United 5, Brisbane Roar 1, Skilled Park Round 22: Wellington Phoenix 3, Brisbane Roar 1, Westpac Stadium
Newcastle: Round 18: Newcastle Jets 3, Gold Coast United 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 20: Newcastle Jets 3, North Queensland 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 21: Perth Glory 4, Newcastle Jets 0, ME Bank Stadium Round 22: Newcastle Jets 3, Melbourne Victory 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 19: Gold Coast United 2, Newcastle Jets 0, Skilled Park
Analysis: Both Brisbane and Newcastle will be looking to bounce back after losses in the previous round, but whether the Jets can overcome their very difficult schedule remains to be seen.
There's no doubting Branko Culina's men have done it tough over the last few days. Despite enjoying a lengthy Christmas break, the club's 10-man 3-2 win over Melbourne in 35-degree conditions took its toll and the Jets appeared lethargic from the word go in their midweek 2-0 loss on the Gold Coast. But coach Branko Culina will have to turn that result around very quickly, for the fourth-placed Jets suddenly find themselves vulnerable again to Wellington and Perth lurking below, while a win for the Roar in this clash could give Ange Postecoglou's inconsistent side a feeling they can still press for a top six position.
Fortunately for Culina, the coach has past history of turning things around over a short time period. Earlier in the season, the Jets played a postponed midweek fixture in Wellington and copped a bruising 3-0 loss that could have been much worse. An angry Culina vowed to make amends and the following weekend his side edged out North Queensland in a match that signalled the beginning of Newcastle's renaissance this term.
But Culina still has his concerns with injury and defence, two elements Brisbane could expose. On an injury front, striker Sean Rooney has been named but is unlikely to play after missing the Gold Coast clash with a thigh injury. Culina also has to carefully monitor Michael Bridges' work-rate, restricting the Englishman to a single half of football. Teams like Gold Coast exposed this, pushing hard while Bridges, Newcastle's most creative element, was on the field and ensuring the ball was up the other end as they scored twice before half-time. With Bridges off at the break, replaced by ageing warrior Sasho Petrovski, United felt more comfortable in simply soaking up the Jets pressure. Postecoglou will surely have noted this down.
Culina also still has work to do with his defence, which has conceded 35 goals this term, the most of any top-six side. And, his issues there may have become more complicated, with regular goalkeeper Neil Young breaking his nose against United, leaving the Jets possibly reliant on youngster Ben Kennedy. But the coach has been able to boost his midfield for this game, bringing in youngsters Ben Kantarovski (return from suspension) and Kaz Patafta to an extended squad.
Despite coming off a 3-1 hammering in New Zealand, seventh-placed Brisbane can take heart from Newcastle's hectic schedule and a good record against the Jets this season. The Roar won 3-0 in Round 6 and drew 1-1 with the Novacastrians last October. But plenty of water's gone under the bridge since and the Roar are a different squad to its early-season incarnation, as supporters of former coach Frank Farina, like Craig Moore, Liam Reddy and Charlie Miller, have all departed.
Postecoglou certainly appears to be creating his own squad at Brisbane and the elements that could undermine his authority have left, while Danny Tiatto appears on borrowed time. It's hardly surprising then that the club's gone through teething problems and has been inconsistent. Losing the last two matches 5-1 and 3-1 to Gold Coast and Wellington respectively, hasn't helped, increasing the pressure on Postecoglou. But it's interesting to note that four of Brisbane's seven wins this season have come under the new coach, while Roar striker Sergio van Dijk has labelled Moore's replacement, Belgian central defender Pieter Collen as the 'touch of class' needed to keep Brisbane in the top-six mix. Indeed, the Roar are only one point and goal difference behind Perth Glory and a victory here, could see them right back in contention as the season goes down to the wire.
Brisbane Roar squad: 1.Matt HAM (gk), 2.Andrew PACKER, 3.Luke DEVERE, 4.Pieter COLLEN, 5.Josh McCLOUGHAN, 7.Michael ZULLO, 8.Massimo MURDOCCA, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 11.REINALDO, 12.Matthew MUNDY, 13.HENRIQUE, 14.Adam SAROTA, 15.Matt McKAY (c), 19.Isaka CERNAK, 20.Griffin McMASTER (gk), 21.Tommy OAR, 22.Ivan FRANJIC *two to be omitted
In: Pieter COLLEN (new signing), Andrew PACKER (promoted)
Out: David DODD (injured)
Unavailable: HENRIQUE (hamstring - 2-3 weeks)
Newcastle Jets Squad: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2.Angelo COSTANZO, 3.Adam D-APUZZO, 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5.Ljubo MILICEVIC, 6.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 7.Jin-Hyung SONG, 8.Matt THOMPSON (c), 9.Sasho PETROVSKI, 11.Tarek ELRICH, 12.Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 14.Michael BRIDGES, 15.Sean ROONEY, 20.Neil YOUNG (gk), 22.Kaz PATAFTA, 25.Labinot HALITI, 26.Ali ABBAS
In: Ben KANTAROVSKI (returns from suspension), Kaz PATAFTA (promoted)
Unavailable: Shaun ONTONG (Achilles - indefinite), Fabio VIGNAROLI (knee - indefinite), Marko JESIC (knee - indefinite)