The final third of the 2012-13 Hyundai A-League regular season is underway, and the question of the week is this: are the Western Sydney Wanderers really an expansion team?
19 match days in, one would think that the Wanderers have been in the league as long as its peers. Such is the case after keeping pace with Melbourne Victory, who are in turn chasing the Central Coast Mariners with eight match days to go. Let’s take a look at this week’s A-League Power Rankings, here on the View from Avalon.
1. Western Sydney Wanderers
At the top of the A-League Power Rankings are Tony Popovic’s Western Sydney Wanderers, who are having a dream season, make no mistake about it. We’re talking four victories on the trot, including a 4-2 double-up of Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide.
Youssouf Hersi scored a brace in the 43rd and 52nd minutes of play to pace the red-hot Wanderers. Also scoring for Western Sydney were Mark Bridge (45′) and Mateo Poljak (68′). The Wanderers continue their season on Feb. 9, hosting the Newcastle Jets at Campbelltown Stadium in Campbelltown, New South Wales.
2. Melbourne Victory
Another day, another Derby victory for Ange Postecoglou’s Melbourne Victory. They had to hold off a furious rally from the Melbourne Heart to even the score at three wins apiece in their 2-1 win at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne. Archie Thompson opened the scoring in the 29th minute and Mark Milligan’s 56th-minute penalty proved to be the difference.
The Victory will have a big test on their hands when they face struggling Adelaide United on Feb. 8 at Hindmarsh Stadium
3. Brisbane Roar
Besart Berisha scored a brace in the 47th and 69th minutes of play as Mike Mulvey’s Brisbane Roar settled for a 2-2 draw with the Central Coast Mariners at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. The Roar return to action on Feb. 10 against Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
4. Central Coast Mariners
Graham Arnold’s Central Coast Mariners got goals from Michael McGlinchey in the eighth minute and Daniel McBreen in the 80th minute of play but they were consigned to a 2-2 draw at Suncorp Stadium. With Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney on their tails, the Mariners will need points to keep their Premiership Plate hopes alive. Central Coast gets that opportunity on Feb. 7 against Wellington Phoenix at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford.
5. Newcastle Jets
Ryan Griffiths got a penalty brace in the 15th and 89th minute of play, but Gary van Egmond’s Newcastle Jets couldn’t muster anything else and had to settle for a 2-2 draw with Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle. The Jets will take a detour to Campbelltown to take on the Western Sydney Wanderers on Feb. 9.
6. Wellington Phoenix
Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, is generally the center of the rugby universe as far as En Zedders are concerned but on Saturday, it was home to the Wellington Phoenix, who hosted Perth Glory. Jeremy Brockie’s 42nd-minute goal gave the Nix a 1-0 shutout victory. It might be too late for Wellington to have any shot of making the top six, but the preparations for next season can begin on Feb. 7 against Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium.
7. Melbourne Heart
David Williams pulled on back in the 73rd minute for John Aloisi’s Melbourne Heart, but that was all they could muster as they lost their first-ever Melbourne Derby game at Etihad Stadium, 2-1, to Melbourne Victory. Heart will need all the points they can get at this juncture of the season. Up next is a match with Perth Glory on Feb. 9 at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
8. Sydney FC
Frank Farina’s Sydney FC got goals from Alessandro Del Piero in the 12th minute and Blake Powell in the 57th minute of play, but two conceded penalties held the Sky Blues at bay, as they were consigned to a 2-2 draw with the Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium. Sydney continue their season on Feb. 10 at Allianz Stadium against the Brisbane Roar.
9. Adelaide United
Adelaide United were the next team to be thrown in a state of flux when John Kosmina resigned from the team earlier this past week. Bruce Djite (61′) and Iain Ramsay (87′) got on the score sheet, but Adelaide, now under the direction of interim manager Michael Valkanis, were crushed by the Western Sydney Wanderers, 4-2, at Hindmarsh Stadium. It’s not gonna get any easier for Adelaide, who host red-hot Melbourne Victory on Feb. 8.
10. Perth Glory
Could Perth Glory manager Ian Ferguson be the next manager to be sacked? His Glory side dropped another match, this time a 1-0 shutout to Wellington Phoenix at Eden Park. The Glory travel to AAMI Park to face Melbourne Heart but one can only wonder if Ferguson will still be in the team’s technical area by then.