Who makes our combined Perth and Sydney XI?
Diego Castro or Milos Ninkovic? Neil Kilkenny or Brandon O’Neill? Andy Keogh or Adam Le Fondre?
Talk about a Grand Final selection headache.
That’s exactly what we’re suffering from at aleague.com after choosing a combined XI from this Sunday’s Hyundai A-League 2019 Grand Final competitors, Perth Glory and Sydney FC.
We’ve opted for a 4-4-1-1 formation to house a mix of the best from WA and the Harbour City’s finest.
Who would you have picked? Let us know on Twitter.
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Goalkeeper – Liam Reddy (Perth Glory)
Perth Glory stalwart Liam Reddy narrowly edges Sky Blues gloveman Andrew Redmayne in between the sticks.
Redmayne has emerged as one of the competition’s leading stoppers after moving to Sydney from crosstown rivals Western Sydney Wanderers in January 2017. He’s produced 2.43 saves per 90 minutes this season compared to Reddy’s 2.29 - and has pulled off three penalty saves for good measure.
However, Reddy has enjoyed one of his best Hyundai A-League seasons under Tony Popovic at the ripe age of 37, and his increased composure and presence in goal has been a huge factor in Glory maintaining the league’s best defence.
He ousts Redmayne in the clean sheet department 12 to eight.
Fullbacks - Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC), Jason Davidson (Perth Glory)
Sydney FC possess arguably the best fullback in the Hyundai A-League in Rhyan Grant, and he gets the nod over Perth’s Ivan Franjic on the right side of our back four.
Grant’s sensational form on the domestic scene was rewarded with a Caltex Socceroos debut in November 2018, and he is dependably considered one of the best attacking fullbacks in the competition, a reputation that opposite number Franjic has also held throughout his time in the Hyundai A-League.
Perth’s Jason Davidson would pose a considerable challenge to that claim, and he takes up the left-back position after a superb debut campaign in the Hyundai A-League. No other defender can match the six 2018/19 assists posted by Davidson, a relentless force in Perth’s march to the Grand Final.
Centre backs – Alex Wilkinson (Sydney FC), Shane Lowry (Perth Glory)
If you polled Hyundai A-League strikers on the defender they least like to play against, chances are Sydney FC’s Alex Wilkinson would be high up on that list.
Wilkinson has been Sydney FC’s ‘Mr. Dependable’ again in 2018/19. There was some concern regarding the changing of the guard from Graham Arnold to Steve Corica in the Sky Blues dugout, but the steady, reliable presence of Wilkinson has helped ensure a seamless transition.
Like Wilkinson, Perth’s Shane Lowry has been the bedrock of his side’s 2018/19 managerial makeover. Glory boss Popovic wields a healthy line up of central defenders to call upon each week, but Lowry has been an indispensable part of that three-man centre.
Glory conceded just 23 goals under Lowry’s watch, having conceded 50 and 53 in the two seasons previous.
Central midfielders – Neil Kilkenny (Perth Glory), Brandon O’Neill (Sydney FC)
With deftness of touch, speed of thought and fire in the challenge, Neil Kilkenny has been the epitome and leader of Perth’s 2018/19 success.
The former Arsenal youth has produced goals of both stunning quality and high importance, and has shielded Perth’s three-man defence alongside Spaniard Juande with a marriage of intelligence and grit.
Meanwhile, no other player has supplied more passes into the final third (299) than Popovic’s chief lieutenant, for whom Sydney’s Brandon O’Neill is a fitting midfield counterpart.
O’Neill has set the midfield standard for the Sky Blues for the past two seasons. Few can match the former Perth youth’s catalogue of distribution. His ability to find teammates from all areas of the pitch continues to be one of the most important aspects of Sydney’s plan in attack.
Corica’s ever-reliable midfield general tops the league in both passes (1,549) and touches (2,453) in 2018/19.
Wide midfielders – Chris Ikonomidis (Perth Glory), Milos Ninkovic (Sydney FC)
A return of nine goals and five assists in 19 matches, as well as the title of NAB Young Footballer of the Year, earns Perth star Chris Ikonomidis a deserved place on the right flank of our four-man midfield.
The former Lazio talent has been employed in central, wide and withdrawn attacking roles this campaign, but has excelled no matter the arrangement of Popovic’s front line.
With Ikonomidis offering directness, pace and goal-threat from one side, Sydney maestro Milos Ninkovic adds balance, genius creativity and stature from the left.
The Serbian attacker has produced seven assists, three goals and 35 chances created in another sterling reminder of his exceptional Hyundai A-League quality in 2018/19.
Attacking midfielder – Diego Castro (Perth Glory)
It was a season in which Perth’s Premiership win sealed Diego Castro’s legacy as an all-time Hyundai A-League great, and we simply can’t leave out the Spaniard in this combined XI.
The former La Liga veteran dispelled any doubts over his suitability to Popovic-era Perth, and in some style. All up, Castro contributed nine goals, five assists and created 45 chances for the Premiers Plate winners.
Forward – Adam Le Fondre (Sydney FC)
Only trumped in the Golden Boot standings by Wellington Phoenix striker Roy Krishna, English predator Adam Le Fondre showcased his exemplary striking standards to the tune of 18 goals this season.
The former Premier League marksman holds off stern competition from Perth’s Andy Keogh (15 goals) to lead the line.
And on the bench…
Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC), Ivan Franjic (Perth Glory), Juande (Perth Glory), Andy Keogh (Perth Glory), Alex Brosque (Sydney FC).