Stats Preview: Why Duke is the battle ram of the Hyundai A-League

Western Sydney Wanderers know they've got a real battle on their hands against Western United FC on Saturday - but you guarantee that captain Mitch Duke will be up for the fight.

Duke, who has three Hyundai A-League goals to his name so far this season, has contested a league-high 70 duels and won a league-high 37 of them this campaign.

All pre-season Wanderers boss Markus Babbel has been vocal in his message that is his side wants to be successful then they must be willing to work for the cause.

And no player has underlined that change in philosophy at the Red and Black more than their skipper.  

Expect the Australian international to lead from the front again as the Wanderers arrive at GMHBA Stadium, the first team from New South Wales that Western United have played in their history.

Mark Rudan's troops have enjoyed an excellent start to life in the Hyundai A-League, but are still searching for a first home win at GMHBA Stadium, after a draw (1-1 with Perth Glory) and defeat (2-1 to Melbourne City) in their only two games at the venue so far.

Verbeeks' resurgent Reds can never be counted out

The opening month of Gertjan Verbeek's reign as Adelaide United boss in the Hyundai A-League has been nothing if not a rollercoaster ride.

Adelaide have played out three end-to-end contests against Sydney FC, Melbourne City and Newcastle Jets, conceding the first goal in all three of those encounters.

But despite falling behind each time, Verbeek's men have rallied impressively, with the Dutchman displaying a ruthless touch to implement a change of approach mid-game to swing momentum back in the favour of his team.

A late Sydney goal stamped out Adelaide's two-goal comeback with 10-men in the 3-2 loss in Round 1 and City were forced to withstood a barrage of second half pressure in the Reds' 2-1 Round 2 defeat.


Round 3's 2-1 victory over Newcastle demonstrated that the Reds are not only capable of fighting back from the brink, but look a very threatening side indeed when they are in the ascendancy.

This was evidenced during the team's incredible second half dismantling of City in their 4-0 FFA Cup Final victory, while in the Hyundai A-League, the Reds have scored four out of their five goals this season after the interval.

No team has scored more second-half goals than Adelaide this season, a team currently living up to their enigmatic coach's reputation. As Verbeek fine tunes what he wants from the Reds as the season progresses, there could be exciting things to come - starting this Sunday evening against Brisbane Roar.

Another script to rewrite

Central Coast have already managed to break one away-day curse this week, but can they make it two at the home of current Hyundai A-League leaders Melbourne City?

Alen Stajcic's Mariners will ride the high of their 2-1 triumph over Perth Glory last Sunday and travel to Victoria, where they are winless in their last 17 fixtures. 

In that spell, the Mariners have picked up just three competition points. And the last time they played City at AAMI Park, the Gosford club succumbed to a 5-0 defeat – the biggest win in the history of this Hyundai A-League fixture. 

Mariners celebrate their goal

Away-day horrors for Phoenix 

Melbourne Victory will be desperate to bounce back from last Saturday's 3-2 defeat to Western United, a match that saw Marco Kurz's men surrender a 2-0 advantage.

In doing so, the four-time Champions must navigate a potential banana skin in the form of Wellington Phoenix. 

Ufuk Talay's reign may have begun with four straight defeats but that is a record the former Sydney FC assistant will not be alone in believing is thoroughly unmerited for his new-look Phoenix team. 

Although the Kiwis played out three entertaining draws under Mark Rudan against Victory during the 2018/19 season, the club have only posted two away wins from 20 attempts away to the Victorians. Moreover, Phoenix have lost their last six Hyundai A-League games in succession. 

 

Perth's happy hunting ground

After their shock home defeat to the Mariners, an away venture to Newcastle Jets could provide the perfect tonic for Tony Popovic's men to mount a response and reignite their Premiers Plate defence. 

After all, the club seem to love playing at McDonald Jones Stadium, where they have not been defeated since November 2011.

Tally that with the fact Glory have lost only one of their last 17 Hyundai A-League matches away from home, and the Premiers might see this Saturday's fixture as a chance to put a stake in the ground. 

Bruno Fornaroli