Talking Points: Does Roar demolition job hint this could be Sydney FC’s best ever team?
Sydney FC are having a historically great start to the Hyundai A-League season and the Champions put the exclamation point on an all-time record with a 5-1 hammering of Brisbane Roar.
A sensational display of free flowing football showcased the creative skills and clinical finishing of their fantastic front four - Alexander Baumjohann, Milos Ninkovic, Kosta Barbarouses and Adam Le Fondre - at Nestrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday.
Never in their history have the four-time Champions won seven of their opening eight games. It’s not only the results that have smashed club records but the nature of their devastating forward play which is courting comparisons with the finest Sky Blues teams of yesteryear.
Graham Arnold’s 2016/17 side, who were inspired by Ninkovic, Filip Holosko, Alex Brosque and Bobo, had collected two fewer points, 19, and scored three fewer goals, 18, at this stage of the season.
A season later they replaced Holosko with Adrian Mierzejewski and landed the same 19 points from eight games, scoring a mere 14 goals. The inaugural Champions and the 2009-10 Premiers only had 13 points on the board at this stage, and had scored nine and 14 goals respectively. The current team has 21 points and have scored 21 goals.
Arnold’s 2016/17 juggernaut went on to stack up a league-record 66 points, scoring 55 goals at an average of 2 per game. At current pace, Corica’s charges would net a mammoth 70 goals at 2.6 per game.
Nobody is guaranteeing the reigning Champions can maintain this stunning form over a 27-match season, but head coach Corica believes the Sky Blues still have gears to go through.
Asked if he thought the Roar thumping was their best performance of the season, Corica said: “If you look at the goals, yes. I think we’ve played better at times.
“The game we lost against the Wanderers, I think we dominated that, except for we conceded the one goal.
“It’s getting better and there’s still improvement [to be made].”
“We’re pleased with where we are the moment but there’s still a long way to go and we’ve got more important matches to come.”
Milos Ninkovic had been a constant presence through Sydney FC’s most dominant Hyundai A-League period and the Serbian believes the current side still have work to do to match Arnold’s line-up.
“It’s hard for me to say if it is the best team if you look at the past four or five years, but it is really a joy to play with this team,” Ninkovic said.
“I reckon three years ago when we broke all these records I think we were better with the ball, more dangerous with the ball and pressed up high.”
“But now I think we are more dangerous without the ball and every time I have the feeling when we go forward we can score the goal.”
Buhagiar ends 602-day wait
It had been a long time coming but Trent Buhagiar finally got to celebrate a Hyundai A-League goal for Sydney FC.
The 21-year-old left the Central Coast Mariners to sign for the Sky Blues in June 2018 but was sidelined for the whole of the the 2018/19 Season after tearing knee ligaments during a training session on the eve of the campaign.
Eighteen long months after penning his Sydney FC deal, Buhagair made a huge impact for the Champions in his fourth substitute appearance of 2019/20.
Coming on in the 85th minute, the speedster struck a minute later before laying on an assist for Le Fondre’s hat-trick within four minutes of his arrival to the Netstrata Jubilee Stadium pitch.
That was his first Hyundai A-League goal since April 2018, 602 days after netting in the Mariners’ 8-2 loss to Newcastle.
Victory slump to all-time low
While one four-time Champion is flying high at the top, another is languishing down in 10th place.
Melbourne Victory officially registered their worst start to a Hyundai A-League season through nine games after the 3-1 defeat against Westgate rivals Western United.
After Andrew Nabbout fired them into a handy 14th-minute lead, Victory missed a plethora of chances at one end and suffered a defensive collapse at the other.
The loss puts Marco Kurz’s team on eight points with only two wins from nine games, following a third-place Hyundai A-League finish in 2018/19.
A glimmer of hope for Victory fans: they started the 2017/18 season with two wins from nine games and went on to lift the Championship lat season’s end.
Berisha comes back to haunt old team
The man who took them to the top, also sent them to the bottom.
Victory old boy, and club icon, Besart Berisha was the thorn in his ex-employers’ side in Geelong.
The Hyundai A-League’s all-time top scorer netted a pair of headers to take his competition goal tally up to 121.
And GMHBA Stadium is clearly a happy hunting ground for Berisha. It was his eighth goal in nine career matches at the Green and Black’s new home stadium.
The smile was back on Bes’ face while sinking his former team. He was left out of the Western United starting line-up last week following a blow up after he was subbed off against Central Coast Mariners.
Even his boss, Mark Rudan, received a hug on Sunday.
Back-to-back wins for United against Victory hand them the bragging rights in the Westgate Derby. The sides meet again in Round 28.
Fornaroli keeps it classy on City return
Another Hyundai A-League hitman back in the goals against his former club was Bruno Fornaroli.
The Uruguayan striker returned to Melbourne for the first time since his acrimonious departure from City last season, and offered a muted celebration when he put his new club Perth Glory into a 1-0 lead on 27 minutes.
The City fans clearly appreciated the gesture, clapping their former hero off the AAMI Park pitch when he was substituted by Tony Popovic on 87 minutes with the result in the bank.
Glory found the spark which led them to the 2018/19 Premiership to run out 3-0 winners and rise to seventh place, while it was a second defeat for second-place City.
It was a rare blank for Jamie Maclaren, who watched his lead in the Golden Boot standing slip to Le Fondre. The Sydney FC marksman now has 10, to Maclaren’s nine. There’s no doubt the Caltex Socceroo will not give up that fight easily.
Davila into Phoenix record books already
The goals keep flowing for Ulises Davila, who now has six in eight games for Wellington Phoenix, following his 89th-minute winner from the penalty spot in the 2-1 victory against Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday.
Four of his strikes this season have been spot-kicks and the Mexican has already joined a list of Phoenix greats after becoming the third players in Wellington’s history to net in four straight Hyundai A-League matches.
The inspirational playmaker will stand head and shoulders above Jeremy Brockie and Roy Krishna if he nets again against Melbourne Victory next week, which is an impressive feat after only nine games in the competition.
Ufuk Talay’s men kept their undefeated streak rolling at Eden Park, having never lost in their six matches up in the Auckland stadium.
It was another tough week for Markus Babbel and Western Sydney Wanderers after a player they let walk away in the off-season, Jaushua Sotirio scored against the club where he spent six seasons.
Kiwi number Stefan Marinovic delivered a fantastic first-half performance to prevent Wanderers from taking a lead and they eventually tasted a fourth straight defeat.
Amazingly, Marinovic is the only starting Hyundai A-League keeper without a clean sheet in 2019/20. Based on that display, there should be one coming soon.
Hometown hero Troisi nets first Reds goal
Paul Izzo was another keeper in scorching form as Adelaide downed Newcastle Jets, 2-1, in stifling conditions at Coopers Stadium.
Ernie Merrick’s side made all of the early running in the hot, dry, South Australia air and ended up walking into Gertjan Verbeek’s trap.
The tactic only paid off because Izzo’s excellent performance kept out a Jets attack who had 25 attempts at goal by the 60 minute mark, finishing with 31.
James Troisi was the hero for his hometown crowd. The well-travelled local boy netted his first goal in a Reds jersey in the 83rd minute to compete the smash and grab raid.
Verbeek’s side are now only a point off Melbourne City in second place, while Jets are sandwiched in a congested mid-table with only three points separating fifth and 11th.