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Parity at an All-Time High After rollercoaster Round Four with Matt Galea

23 November, 2023

Even Stevens at the Top

Four rounds into the 2023-24 Isuzu UTE A-League season and we already have more plot twists than a Hollywood blockbuster.

Parity at an All-Time High After rollercoaster Round Four

Even Stevens at the Top

Four rounds into the 2023-24 Isuzu UTE A-League season and we already have more plot twists than a Hollywood blockbuster.

In the most even start to an A-League campaign ever, four teams remain locked on eight competition points apiece, with Western Sydney Wanderers, Melbourne Victory, Wellington Phoenix and Macarthur FC setting the early pace.

Hot on their heels sit Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar on seven points each, demonstrating the sheer unpredictability of this season so far.

While the early signs point towards the most open title race in years, perhaps the biggest shock has been the dramatic decline of defending champions Melbourne City.

Leaky City Defence Raises Concerns

City has conceded 11 goals already this term, the most in the league, haemorrhaging an average of 2.75 goals per game. Their usually watertight defence has more holes than Swiss cheese, brutally exposed in a wild 3-3 draw with Macarthur on Sunday.

With former coach Rado Vidosic paying the price after three winless games to start the season, interim boss Aurelio Vidmar faces a tough task to shore up City’s backline over the bye week.

Meanwhile, Melbourne’s bitter cross-town rivals Victory are faring much better under Tony Popovic’s stewardship, with the addition of new recruits like Loanee midfielder Zinedine Machach helping them remain undefeated after four matches.

Managerial Musical Chairs

In keeping with the chaotic energy of this A-League campaign, two of last season’s most successful managers didn’t even make it to Round 3.

Melbourne City parted ways with Vidosic after losing their opening two games, while Sydney FC’s all-time games record holder Steve Corica got the axe after the Sky Blues lost their first three.

Both clubs enjoyed an immediate new manager bounce in Round 3 and 4 respectively, though, with City and Sydney recording draws and big wins respectively under fresh leadership.

Ufuk Talay oversaw Sydney’s 5-1 thumping of Adelaide United in his first match at the helm, thanks partly to a first senior start for talented 21-year old winger Jaiden Kucharski.

Australia’s Next Generation Emerging

Nestory Irakunda has grabbed all the headlines with his recent transfer to German giants Bayern Munich, but he is the face of an ever growing contingent of talented young players making their mark on the competition.

Kucharski’s outstanding double against the Reds demonstrated the wealth of young players that A-League clubs are finally putting their faith in.

Newcastle Jets young gun Apostolos Stamatelopoulos continued his stellar form too, netting the winner over Western United to condemn John Aloisi’s side to a third straight defeat.

The 24-year-old Greek striker already has four goals in four appearances this term, showing the kind of clinical edge the Jets have craved.

Victory aren’t just giving game time to promising teenagers though, they’re also seeing them hit the scoreboard regularly.

Olyroos midfielder Ryan Teague opened his A-League account against Wellington Phoenix in Round 4, capping a string of eye-catching displays since crossing from Sydney FC.

With Australia’s brightest talents rising to the fore, the signs all point to the most unpredictable and entertaining A-League season in quite some time.

Strap yourself in folks, this rollercoaster campaign promises plenty more twists and turns along the way!

Round 5 Previews:

Macarthur FC v Melbourne Victory

Join-top Macarthur host their fellow undefeated Melbourne Victory in Friday night’s blockbuster clash. With attacking weapons like Ulises Davila and Bruno Fornaroli on show, expect goals galore between two free-flowing sides packed with entertainment value.

Tip: Melbourne Victory to win

Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne City

After surrendering a two-goal lead late against City last round, Wellington have a chance to atone against the struggling champions. With Reno Piscopo in hot form, the Phoenix will back themselves on home soil but under-fire Melbourne City can’t afford another loss.

Tip: Melbourne City to win

Central Coast Mariners v Newcastle Jets

The first F3 Derby of the season pits the winless Central Coast Mariners against a new-look Newcastle side finding their feet under coach Rob Stanton. Home ground advantage should hand the Mariners an edge but Jets hitman Apostolos Stamatelopoulos will be hungry to add to his four-goal haul.

Tip: Draw

Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers

Sydney FC made a statement last round by demolishing Adelaide 5-1 and will fancy their chances of a Derby upset against the high-flying Wanderers. Western Sydney’s unbeaten run faces a huge test from a rejuvenated Sky Blues outfit out to confirm their return to form.

Tip: Sydney FC to win

Brisbane Roar v Perth Glory

After a gutsy away win over the Mariners, Brisbane Roar return home hunting back-to-back victories against struggling Perth Glory. Spanish magician Charlie Austin pulled the strings beautifully last round and will be key to unlocking Perth’s leaky defence.

Tip: Brisbane Roar to win

Western United v Adelaide United

Mired in a three-game losing streak, Western United is desperate to get off the mark against Adelaide United in Sunday’s twilight fixture. Adelaide bounced back impressively from their Sydney hiding and won’t die wondering in an open and attacking affair.

Tip: Adelaide United to win

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