Stats Preview: Berisha on cusp of impressive century at expense of his former club

Western United FC hitman Besart Berisha has proven himself to not only be a great goalscorer in his Hyundai A-League career, but he’s also a serial winner.

Four championships across his time at Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory is a testament to that.

And the prolific Berisha is on the verge of reaching 100 win in the Hyundai A-League if his United can overcome Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

After scoring a brace to sink Victory last weekend, you wouldn’t put it past Berisha sinking another of his former employers to bring up a century of wins.

If Roar can keep Berisha quiet it will go a long way to keeping a clean sheet, which would also be their 100th shutout in their history in the Hyundai A-League.

HOW TO WATCH: Hyundai A-League Round 10

But goals seem assured in this clash, especially considering there’s been 18 scored in the last four games featuring Roar, with Robbie Fowler’s side outscored 10-8 in that time.

Roar, who are the only club yet to score a first-half goal this season, are chasing a third straight home win. If they can take all three points on Friday, it will be the first time they’ve won three on the bounce at home since April 2017.

Brisbane Roar v Western United FC
Friday, December 13 2019
Kick-off: 6.30pm local, 7.30pm AEDT
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

MATCH PREVIEW: Brisbane Roar v Western United FC

WATCH: Berisha completes his brace against Victory

In-form Wellington on Ola alert

Wellington Phoenix head to Melbourne oozing confidence on the back of three straight wins in the Hyundai A-League.

But their hopes of making it four on the trot – and equalling their best run of form in almost five years – could depend on keeping Victory skipper Ola Toivonen quiet.

Phoenix must be sick of the sight of the Swedish international, who has scored a goal in each of his last four games between the two clubs. That includes a 1-1 draw at AAMI Park earlier this season, with Toivonen scoring more goals against Phoenix than against any other club.

MATCH PREVIEW: Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix

Second-from-bottom Victory are desperate for all three points, and they are unbeaten in their last five games against Wellington at AAMI Park (W2, D3).

If Wellington are to snap that streak and get an impressive road win then expect imports Ulises Davila and David Ball to be heavily involved. Every one of Phoenix’s 11 goals this Hyundai A-League season has directly involved either Mexican Dávila (6 goals, 1 assist) or Englishman Ball (1 goal, 3 assists).

Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix
Saturday, December 14 2019
Kick-off: 5.00pm AEDT
AAMI Park, Melbourne

WATCH: Toivinen scores against the Phoenix earlier this season

Wanderers out to snap near six-year hoodoo in the west

It’s been almost six years since Western Sydney Wanderers went across the country and return with all three points from a clash with Perth Glory.

The last eight times they’ve played at HBF Park, the best the Wanderers have managed is a draw on three occasions.

There is a glimmer of hope for Markus Babbel’s side though, with Glory losing their last two matches on home soil. The last time they lost more in succession there was a three-game stretch from January to February in 2011.

So something has to give on Saturday night.

MATCH PREVIEW: Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers

The Wanderers will rely on their strong first-half record if they are to spring a surprise in this one. Of the 11 goals they have conceded this season, only two have been in the opening 45 minutes.

Glory are likely to rely on the trickery and speed of Diego Castro and Chris Ikonomidis to unlock Western Sydney’s defence. Castro (32) and Ikonomidis (30) have made the most successful dribbles of any players this Hyundai A-League campaign, with no other player making more than 22.

Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday, December 14 2019
Kick-off: 6.45pm local, 9.45pm AEDT
HBF Park, Perth

Chris Ikonomidis is a player the Wanderers will need to keep the shackles on

Mariners need to capitalise on strong starts

The numbers don’t make for great reading for Central Coast Mariners fans whenever their side comes up against Sydney FC.

In 15 games between the clubs over the last five seasons, the team from Gosford have won just once (D3, L11) back in November 2017.

But they have had chances to better that record, having led 1-0 at the break in each of their last three away matches against the Sky Blues.

Scoring in the first half is likely to be key to the hopes of Alen Stajcic’s side in this one. The last 24 times the Mariners have failed to find the net in the first 45 minutes, they have lost 22 of those games.

It’s likely to take something special to stop the Sky Blues juggernaut at the moment.

Sydney FC – who have a five-point lead at the top of the ladder – have won their last five games in a row, scoring 16 goals in the process.

Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners
Saturday, December 14 2019
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney

MATCH PREVIEW: Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners

Experienced defender v City sharp shooter on Sunday

He’s been involved in a number of titanic battles with strikers throughout his 299-game Hyundai A-League career so it’s only fitting Newcastle Jets defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley’s milestone 300th game is against Melbourne City’s Jamie Maclaren.

Maclaren is not only in career-best form with nine goals in five appearances, he leads the competition in some key stats.

The Caltex Socceroos star has a shooting accuracy (ex. Blocks) of 76% and a shot conversion rate (inc. blocks) of 50% this campaign, the highest of any player to have landed more than five shots on target.

That individual battle is an interesting sub-plot to what should be an intriguing match-up in the Hunter.

The Jets have won eight of their last 12 against City at McDonald Jones Stadium, while they are chasing back-to-back victories against them for the first time since 2013.

There’s a number of milestones on the line for the Jets, with midfielders Matthew Ridenton and Steven Ugarkovic both set to play their 100th Hyundai A-League game, while the home side are one goal away from 250 at their home ground.

Newcastle Jets v Melbourne City
Sunday, December 15 2019
Kick-off: 6.30pm AEDT 
McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

MATCH PREVIEWNewcastle Jets v Melbourne City

Nikolai Topor-Stanley
Nikolai Topor-Stanley will bring up his 300th Hyundai A-League appearance on Sunday