Finally the A-League is back and this week we look at the grand final rematch between the Central Coast Mariners v Western Sydney Wanderers.
Starting with the Central Coast, in the off-season they lost several key players and will be hoping the new recruits (Flores, Simon, Roux and Seip) can hit the ground running.
The Mariners are without their top goal scorer from last season Daniel McBreen, who is currently on loan to Shanghai East Asia until the end of October. McBreen (93) was the only player to hit more shots than Alessandro Del Piero (91) in the 2012-13 A-League.
The Wanderers have added depth to their squad ahead of the upcoming campaign by bolstering their defence and attack (Spiranovic, Heffernan, Santalab and Juric). New recruit Brendon Santalab has expressed that there will be “a lot of emotion” going into this game, as both sides look to unshackle themselves from preseason.
Tactically, this match will see two of the brightest coaches in the A-League battle it out. In last seasons Grand Final, Mariner’s coach Graham Arnold put a lot of pressure on the Wanderers by closing down quickly and using his fullbacks to pin the Wanderers in their own half.
Mariners have lost their entire right hand side, of Ibini and Bojic. No doubt the Wanderers will focus down the Mariners right hand channel, utilizing the experience of Bridge to cause damage.
Wanderers should line up in their familiar 4-2-3-1 formation. Popovic will have plenty of options to choose from for his starting XI. Juric, Haliti and Santalab are all vying for the starting role up front. Based on preseason Juric is the favorite for the starting spot. Sanatalab recently missed a week of preseason due to illness, which could harm his chances of starting the match.
Labinot Haliti is one player who will be pushing his case for a starting berth. Last year’s goal scoring hero said that, “Central coast is a good team so it’s important we play well and get the result that will make our fans happy”.
“We have to prepare and play every game with the right attitude, this game is no different and being the first one makes it an important game” he said.
The Mariners and Wanderers met four times last season with the Mariners winning twice, Wanderers once, and a draw.
The home team has never scored in the four meetings between Central Coast Mariners and Western Sydney Wanderers in the A-League. This game pitches together the team with the joint best attack in 2012-13 (Mariners 48 goals) with the best defence (Wanderers 21 goals conceded). This will be a tight affair and as history suggests a goal should be enough to win it, Wanderers 1-0.
CCM: 2. Daniel MCBREEN (On loan at Shanghai SIPG until October 31), 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY (International Duty, New Zealand All Whites), 18. Michael NEILL (Ankle – 1 week), 23. Adam KWASNIK (Groin – 1 week)
WSW: 15. Yianni Perkatis (knee – 2 weeks), 16. Josh Barresi (leg – 2 weeks), 14. Kwabena Appiah (leg – 3 weeks)