Just a week ago, Western United entered its Round 21 fixture against Central Coast Mariners outside the top six, having not scored a goal in three games and with its finals hopes hanging by a thread.
Then, everything changed.
Western United won the game 6-2 and then this week outclassed Adelaide United 5-1.
Importantly for United’s final aspirations, the two wins have moved it back into the top six and the 11 goals scored against three conceded moved its goal difference to +6.
Although United is unlikely to score five goals every week, Saturday night’s win over the Reds demonstrated the danger it now presents to all other sides in the competition.
Striker Besart Berisha isn’t the same player that he was when he ran rampant with Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory, but he remains a lethal finisher.
If Western consistently creates chances of high quality, there are few in the league better suited to convert them.
Crowded schedule to hurt Melbourne City?
The Matildas appear to be well on their way to securing progression to Tokyo 2020, but their international escapades could have a large impact on this year’s W-League finals.
Six of Ante Miličić Matildas’ squad reside on the books of premiers Melbourne City and their absence – when combined with international call-ups for Milica Mijatović, Claire Emslie and Rebekah Stott – means that City’s preparation for next week’s finals has been compromised.
Western Sydney Wanderers, which head to Melbourne next Sunday to meet City in their first finals appearance, will hope to take advantage of the situation.
“I have complete belief in us that we can [win],” Wanderers midfielder Ella Mastrantonio told The New Daily.
“It’s a cliché, but it’s finals and anything can happen.
“They’ll be coming off, what is it? Nine players on international duty? So, that won’t be ideal preparation for them.
They’ve been the benchmark and they’ve got all the pressure on them; they haven’t lost all season.
“As far as I’m concerned, we’re the underdogs and we’re going to relish having that tag and hopefully we can go out and get a result.”
Not so Victorious in 2020
Melbourne Victory’s final aspirations may have received a stay of execution with its 2-1 win over Adelaide United last week, but Saturday evening’s 4-1 loss to Sydney FC may have finally delivered the coup de grâce.
Victory kept the match close for 45 minutes but the Sydney juggernaut rolled over the Melbourne mob in the second half.
“I think that the problem was that we didn’t respect the structure in the second half,” furious Victory coach Carlos Salvachúa said post-game.
“And we opened the game for them because we stopped doing the movements like in the first half.
“The team without a structure is not a team, it’s just individual players.”
Much has been made of the exploits of teenagers such as Connor Metcalfe, Louis D’Arrigo and the Toure brothers over the course of the 2019-20 A-League season, but the best teenage talent in the competition likely resides in New Zealand.
Wellington Phoenix’s 19-year-old left-back Liberato Cacace made his 50th A-League appearance on Sunday, scoring the opening goal in his side’s 3-1 win against Central Coast Mariners on Sunday afternoon.
With former ‘Nix prodigy Sarpreet Singh already having made the leap to German giants FC Bayern München, Cacace is well poised to become the next Kiwi youngster to make the leap to Europe.
In a result few could have predicted Melbourne City, whose habit of losing the big games is well known, somehow found a way to race to a 3-0 halftime lead and eventually hold on for a 3-2 thriller win against Perth Glory on Sunday evening.
Glory is a side built to win wars of attrition, not one built to chase deficits, so though it did peg two goals back Glory was unable to prevent itself from falling to a second loss in as many weeks.
A-League results: Friday: Brisbane Roar 3-1 Western Sydney Wanderers; Saturday: Adelaide United 1-5 Western United; Melbourne Victory 1-4 Sydney FC; Sunday: Wellington Phoenix 3-1 Central Coast Mariners; Perth Glory 2-3 Melbourne City