Match Day 9 of the A-League mens is in the rear-view mirror. Here’s how things stand in the power rankings.
12. Perth Glory
A disappointing return from the World Cup break sees Perth anchored to the bottom of our power rankings – and the A-League mens ladder.
A home draw against Wellington just before Christmas and a loss to Macarthur on the road for their last two outings have been far from impressive, while recording just a home win at Macedonia Park against an underwhelming visitor in Western United.
11. Newcastle Jets
The Jets have papered over the cracks of an underwhelming December with a very ugly win over a dusty Adelaide United on the road.
Newcastle fans could be forgiven for thinking they are supporting a box of Christmas chocolates, as Forest Gump famously said “You never know what you’re going to get”.
The one thing Jets fans are yet to see is top shelf football, they have the talent on paper in the attacking thirds, but can they live up to it, your guess is as good as ours – but we may see on New Years Day versus Sydney FC.
10. Sydney FC
The once power house force of the A-League is a shadow of their former self and need to wright the ship rapidly as they have become the third string side in their own city.
This was exacerbated when they shipped three goals to the harbour cities newest side in their last outing, following on from a loss to their noisy northern neighbours – Central Coast.
Face a make or break trip up the M1 Motorway to kick off 2023, lose to the Jets and they will quickly be the worst side in the state, not just Sydney.
9. Western United
The defending champions have been sluggish to start the season to say the least, red cards and discipline are cruelling their chances.
They sit equal top of the league for red cards, with Nikolai Topor-Stanley having the unwanted mantle of being the only player with two so far this season in only seven games.
Something really needs to turn around for the defending champs, however the good news is the logjam on the table means even though they are eleventh (10 points), they are only one win away from the Central Coast Mariners (13 points) in fourth.
Next up is Melbourne City before two crucial games against Newcastle Jets & Sydney FC at home, if they can claim five or more points from their next three games their season will be well on its way to recovered.
8. Adelaide United
Were well on their way to being on the outskirts of contender territory before the World Cup break, however returning with a draw against Brisbane Roar on the road followed by losses to Wellington and then a lacklustre loss to Newcastle means they are rapidly on the slide and looking for answers.
They have a star-studded line-up on paper, lead by World Cup star Craig Goodwin and complemented by young stars aplenty including Musa Toure and Nestory Irankunda the results should be far more substantial. Next up is a must win match against last-placed Perth.
7. Brisbane Roar
Undefeated in their last 6 games after a start to the season that saw them claim only two points from their first three matches, the Roar are flying under the radar and a side to watch.
The big question at Moreton Daly Stadium is how will they deal with the departure of homesick Englishman Charlie Austin, they had the least potent attack in the A-League with him on board, how will they find the back of the net without him?
Three straight games on the road (Western United, Melbourne Victory & Perth) in 12 days will really clarify where the lads from the Sunshine State are at as we head into January.
6. Melbourne Victory
While they haven’t been 100 percent convincing, you can’t help but feel that this stacked squad is only moments away from clicking and firing on all cylinders.
It appeared they had done just that when they barrelled four past a dismal Jets in early November before they closed out the pre World Cup period with a three-goal spanking by Adelaide.
If we can get the consistent best of the Victory they will be a top four side, as it stands they are in a tooth and nail scrap for a finals berth on current form. A New Years Eve trip to Gosford will be a quality measuring stick of Tony Popovic’s men.
5. Wellington Phoenix
Many people again wrote off the trans tasman crew before a ball was kicked in anger this season, and they were mistaken to do so.
Ufuk Talay has his side in decent shape as we hit the first third of the season, if only wanting for a touch more consistency.
Bringing in Steven Ugarkovic and Kosta Barbarouses to bolster his squad has seemed a masterstroke, with both turning back the clock to star for the ‘Nix.
Ben Waine’s star continues to rise and imports Bozhidar Kraev and Oskar Zawada have shown they know the way to goal. A big test and opportunity all in one come up next on January 2 as they host runaway ladder leaders Melbourne City.
4. Western Sydney Wanderers
Sit second on the ladder thanks to a miserly defence, but have come back to earth in recent weeks as a struggle to net goals continues to haunt them (only Brisbane Roar & Perth Glory have scored fewer goals).
They are yet to win a game in which they have conceded or lose a game in which they have scored, so the recipe is simple for Marko Rudan, clean sheet equals three points.
The Wanderers take on fellow high flyers Macarthur and Melbourne City across the next three rounds so they will need to find their best defensive form again ASAP, while also hoping they can net a few goals.
3. Central Coast Mariners
The boys from Gosford have continued their impressive form from last season under their talismanic Scottish manager Nick Montgomery, who is closing in on Graham Arnold-type win percentages at the Mariners (48.2% vs 47.5%).
The Mariners continue to unearth young talents from their academy system, but will soon bid farewell to their latest wunderkind, Garang Kuol who heads to the English Premier League in January.
Outside of a blip against Newcastle a few weeks ago, their form line has been solid, they got their revenge with a 3-0 derby win in the rescheduled Match Day 1 fixture on 21st December before taking it to Melbourne City and falling just short on the weekend.
They will be eyeing off a big farewell to Kuol at their traditional NYE clash as they host Melbourne Victory.
2. Macarthur FC
The biggest name signing in the off season being a manager may have surprised many, but the return of Dwight Yorke to the A-League as manager of the Campbelltown based side not only drew headlines but also brought the first piece of silverware to the Bulls trophy cabinet as they took out the Australia Cup in October.
The Bulls have been up and down since but last weeks drubbing of cross town rivals Sydney FC showed they mean business and have the firepower to back up their desire to be the biggest show in town.
They will test this desire as they clash in a bumper Sydney derby with second on the ladder Wanderers at Comm Bank Stadium on New Years Day.
1. Melbourne City
Absolutely no surprise here that the run-away leaders of the table, who sit four points clear with a game in hand are top of the pops.
Their star studded line up is led by Socceroos’ World Cup star Matthew Leckie and national squad mates Jamie Maclaren and Marco Tilio up front.
Imports Nuno Re and Valon Berisha are more than worth the price of admission. The boys in Sky Blue certainly have the target on their back and will embrace the pressure as they look to go one better than last season and back up their premiership and supplement it with a championship.
It would take a braver man than I at this point to say they cannot do it.