A massive 16 goals thundered into the back of the net over the weekend and that was with Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners sitting this one out.
Cronan Yu takes us through the five things we learned in a blockbuster round three of the A-League.
1. Sydney find balance under Arnie
It was supposed to be tough. Regardless of the club’s stature, three games in the space of a week is no easy feat. And for Sydney FC, following their 3-1 FFA Cup loss just three days prior, it wasn’t supposed to be so seamless.
Yet it appears, under coach Graham Arnold, the Sky Blues are well prepared to defy the odds and cement their place as one of the A-League’s most successful clubs. And coincidently, it was their match against Brisbane Roar, the competition’s benchmark team, where they proved their credentials.
Facing an out-of-sorts Brisbane outfit, Sydney FC displayed a certain tactical discipline to their game which has been of Arnold’s doing. From the off, they pressed high up the pitch, often disrupting Roar’s build-up play and placing them under pressure. In attack, Arnold’s men were ruthless, and had two magnificent goals to show for it.
Sloppy passes from the home-side ensued, and both goals, arguably, resulted from their lack of space of the pitch.
Overall, perhaps the most impressive aspect of Sydney’s game is their tactical flexibility. To be able to adjust to different styles of play against different opposition will make them a formidable opponent.
Seven points from a possible nine and it could be said that things are flourishing under Arnie at Sydney.
2. Victory’s attack will be hard to stop
Right now, there is no attack as ruthless as Melbourne Victory’s. While there may not always be a direct correlation of strengths on paper and performances on the pitch, for Kevin Muscat, it seems he has the luxury of both.
Against a Melbourne City who have suffered setback after setback in recent weeks, Besart Berisha and co showed their true colours. The Albanian claimed a hat trick and, in doing so, his 50th A-League goal, while Kosta Barbarouses and Gui Finkler, true to form, have been devastating down the right flank.
Their two soft goals conceded will be a worry for Kevin Muscat though, and defensive adjustments will need to be made in order to ensure a successful season.
Meanwhile, at City, the saga which has engulfed David Villa in recent weeks has taken a toll. He was largely ineffective throughout the match and with recent reports suggesting that he is unhappy Down Under, John van’t Schip will undoubtedly have a tough few weeks ahead of him.
3. McGlinchey and Burns work wonders for Nix
So you thought the Barbarouses-Finkler partnership was the only one to look out for in this season? Think again.
Against a fragile Newcastle Jets side, Michael McGlinchey and Nathan Burns were on fire, with the former often turning provider, setting up through balls for Burns to attack. Burns’ brace helped the side to a 4-1 win over the Newcastle Jets. Not to be outdone, however, McGlinchey bagged one for himself and will be hoping that his incredible run of form continues.
Newcastle Jet’s defence though, needs to be tightened up fast. Their poor performance now sees them sitting in 8th place.
4. Perth Glory come crashing back to earth
An incredible start, which saw Perth Glory sit atop the A-League ladder after two match days, has come to disappointing end at the hands of Adelaide United.
The Reds dominance of possession effectively took the game away from an Andy Keogh-reliant side and their two goals courtesy of Sergio Cirio and Awer Mabil helped Gombau’s men claim the three points.
For the Glory, it’s back to the drawing board. Arguably, their recent success has come down to the impact of Keogh in attack, who has singlehandedly kept them in each of their previous two matches. Without him at his best, Perth are useless. And the stats tell the story: not one of their 11 shots made it on target.
However, as fate would have it, a match-up against a winless Newcastle Jets next week might well be the game to get them back on a winning note.
5. Goals, goals and more goals
Three rounds (bar one match) have been played and already 45 goals have found their way into the back of the net, averaging about 15 goals per round.
To put that into context, 371 goals were scored in the regular season last term at an average of 13.74 goals per round. And it seems as if there will be no reprieve (thankfully) from the goal-fest. So far this season not one match has finished in a scoreless draw.
Melbourne Victory's accomplished warrior, Besart Berisha, and Perth Glory’s Andy Keogh lead the goal-scoring charts with four apiece. Victory’s veteran hit man Archie Thompson and Wellington Phoenix duo Nathan Burns and Michael McGlinchey follow-up with three each, while Mark Bridge (Wanderers), Sergio Cirio (Adelaide), Corey Gameiro (Sydney) and David Villa (City) have all notched up two. It's going to be one hotly-contested Golden Boot race!