Stats preview: Hyundai A-League predators Krishna and Le Fondre set for Golden Boot gunfight
Sparks are bound to fly when two of the Hyundai A-League’s best penalty-box predators Roy Krishna and Adam Le Fondre face off on Saturday.
Indeed, Wellington Phoenix’s clash with Sydney FC at Campbelltown Stadium looks as much a Golden Boot shoot-out as it does a potentially season-defining match for both top-six rivals.
The New Zealanders will hope Saturday’s temporary home offers fertile ground for Krishna to emulate his stunning cameo the last time these two sides met on Australian soil.
In it, the Fijian flyer’s brace led Phoenix to a landmark 3-1 triumph over the Sky Blues back in December 2018, two of the 12 goals Krishna has tallied during his remarkable 2018/19 campaign.
Wellington’s talismanic forward trails English marksman Le Fondre (13) by a single goal, and whoever can make the difference inside the penalty area this weekend will likely be crucial to the fixture's outcome.
Fortunately for Mark Rudan’s side, Krishna knows all about making an impact inside the box. He’s made 123 touches inside the area this season, more than any other player in the competition.
He is simply a live-wire in front of goal – where he’s won three and dispatched four penalties this season. But Sydney FC possess a gifted penalty box operator of their own in Le Fondre, who leads the competition in shots on target (35), eight more than Krishna’s 27.
Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC, Saturday 5.35pm (AEDT)
Wooden spoon edges closer for Mariners
Central Coast Mariners are in the last chance saloon.
Mike Mulvey’s side are still rooted to the foot of the Hyundai A-League table, five points adrift of ninth-placed Brisbane Roar.
And with Brisbane arriving in Gosford on Friday evening, anything less than a win over their fellow cellar-dwellers would tip the Mariners closer to their second consecutive wooden spoon.
It is a reality made even more daunting by Central Coast’s horror record against the Queenslanders in this fixture.
The Mariners have not won any of their last 14 matches against the Roar (L10, D4), a streak that is rapidly approaching the worst in the competition.
Only twice in Hyundai A-League history has a club held more dominance in a fixture than Brisbane’s over Central Coast – Melbourne Victory’s 17 matches undefeated against the Mariners, and Sydney FC’s 15 unbeaten over Newcastle Jets.
To make matters worse, the Mariners haven’t won a Hyundai A-League match against the Roar at Central Coast Stadium since March 2013. They’ve scored just three goals across the last six of these fixtures.
Central Coast Mariners v Brisbane Roar, Friday 7.50pm (AEDT)
City have no room for error in Derby
The Melbourne Derby has typically operated on some of the finest margins in the Hyundai A-League.
And the stage is set for another fiercely contested battle on Saturday evening.
There’s been just one clean sheet kept in the last 11 Hyundai A-League Melbourne Derbies, but the last time either side scored more than two goals in the fixture was in October 2016.
It means City’s typically measured approach will be put to the test against the reigning Champions, and Warren Joyce will know his side has little room for error.
City have trailed 1-0 at half time in each of their last four Hyundai A-League games, and they’ve picked up just two competition points from nine games this season in which they’ve trailed at the break.
To make things even more intimidating, their opponents are the most prolific second-half outfit in the competition. Victory have hammered in 25 goals in the second stanza this season, more than twice as much as City (12).
Melbourne Victory v Melbourne City, Saturday 7.50pm (AEDT)
Floodgates opening for Newcastle
Inconsistency has plagued the 2017/18 Grand Finalists this season, but there’s evidence that the Hunter Valley club are growing in stature by the week.
Indeed, the Jets have rectified one of the biggest issues that have limited them thus far – scoring goals in the opening half.
Newcastle have scored five first half goals in their last three Hyundai A-League matches, more than they had scored in their last 18 league games prior (four).
Adelaide prevailed in the last fixture via a Craig Goodwin penalty, and they’ll be searching for back to back wins at McDonald Jones Stadium for the first time since 2005.
Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United, Sunday 5.00pm (AEDT)
Banana skin for Popovic's Premiers-elect
With Tony Popovic returning to Western Sydney, you can be sure the Wanderers will be right up for the visit of Perth Glory on Sunday.
As if Markus Babbel’s side needed any more motivation.
The Wanderers spectacularly surrendered a two-goal buffer to lose 4-3 the last time these two teams met in January, and the Red and Black will be keen to banish memories of that collapse.
Unsurprisingly, the Wanderers have conceded 13 goals in the final 15 minutes of matches this season, more than any other team.
It’s the type of lapse which has curtailed their campaign, and strikes the polar opposite to Tony Popovic’s Perth Glory, who are undefeated in their last 10 Hyundai A-League matches and are on a four-match winning streak.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Perth Glory, Sunday 7.00pm (AEDT)