Round 5 Match Preview: Central Coast Mariners vs. Brisbane RoarPosted: November 7, 2013
Round 5 of the A-League sees Brisbane head south to take on defending champions Central Coast Mariners in the final game of the round on Sunday afternoon. Brisbane head into the weekend top of the league while the Mariners sit mid-table with three draws out of four. Despite losing on both trips to Gosford last season, Brisbane hold an outstanding record at the venue, with Brisbane not losing at the ground in the opening seven years of the competition.
Central Coast: DDWD
Last week all the talk was around the clubs injury crisis, however despite missing three key members of the starting line-up the squad depth shone through in the win over the Heart despite a slow start. Given the lack of options available, it’s highly likely that the starting line-up will remain the same, however with a slight tweak. Last week Henrique started in midfield, Yeboah started upfront and Franjic started wide right, before a change at half-time saw Franjic drop into the midfield, Henrique move upfront and Yeboah shift wide on the right. The team functioned a lot better in the second half and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mulvey went that way this week, with Petratos and Borrello to provide the fresh legs in attack off the bench. In further injury news Jade North is still struggling with his groin injury from the dying minutes against the Heart and will have to train today and tomorrow in order to play on Sunday. Brisbane are lucky to have young James Donachie who has A-League experience ready to step in, while Lachlan Jackson would likely come onto the bench as defensive cover.
Away from injury news, Brisbane started slowly last Sunday against the Heart, with the visitors creating a host of chances early in the fray which they really should have capitalised on. Wether or not it was down to surprise at the Heart tactics or general sluggishness is debatable, but what isn’t is that they wont get away with a repeat performance against the Mariners.
Expected Brisbane XI:
Theo, Hingert, North, Smith, Brown, Franjic, Brattan, McKay, Yeboah, Broich, Henrique.
Substitutes: Acton, Donachie, Ferreira, Petratos, Borrello.
The Mariners have their own issues going into this round, with Kiwi duo Storm Roux and Michael McGlinchey both out of the game against Brisbane after being named in New Zealand’s squad to take on Mexico in the World Cup play-offs. They’ll both be losses for the Mariners, but Graham Arnold has continually found options to fill out the squad, and the champions welcome back last seasons golden boot Daniel McBreen who spent the off-season in China with Shanghai SIPG. The 36 year old McBreen found the net 3 times in 13 games in the Chinese Super League and will be ready to link up with Duke, Fitzgerald, Simon and Flores in the Mariners attacking third.
Arnold has options in his hunt to find a substitute right full back, with Michael Neill, Brent Griffiths, Hayden Morton and Marcel Seip all possibilities. Neill and Griffiths are unlikely given they’re both left footers, with Morton is a right footed defender who deputised for Bojic last season on occasions. The favourite for mine is Trent Sainsbury shifting to right back, with Seip partnering Anderson in the heart of defence. That would allow him to keep both an experienced central defensive pairing, and also put his best defender onto a man marking role against Broich, a battle we’ve seen before in the last couple of seasons. Scorer of last weeks equaliser –Sterjovski- will in all likelihood be the man to come into the side to replace the influential McGlinchey.
From a tactical standpoint, the Mariners still play their 4-2-3-1 formation that has brought them success in recent times, but they’ve also shown the ability to alter their shape. Case in point- last week in the F3 derby when the Jets were winning the battle in the midfield with their pressure, Arnold opted for a 4-4-2 narrow diamond formation – which gave his side both a) more attacking thrust, and b) control and more numbers in the midfield – the change gave the Mariners 4 in the middle compare to the Jets 3-. Typically though Arnold likes his side to play a slightly conservative 4-2-3-1, and to use the guile of Flores and the pace of the wide attackers to hit teams quickly on the counter.
In terms of players to watch, Marcos Flores has been a revelation since he arrived in Gosford from the Victory, and it isn’t just his goals from the penalty spot which are vitally important given Central Coasts issues there. His link-up play with both the wide players and the strikers has been impressive and he’s more than filled the void left by Rogic’s departure. Others to watch are in form Nick Fitzgerald and Mitch Duke, along with Nick Montgomery, who despite not being flashy and not having his greatest game last week, covers a lot of holes and defensive deficiencies of his teammates with his positioning.
Expected Central Coast XI:
Pasfield, Sainsbury, Seip, Anderson, Rose, Montgomery, Hutchinson, Sterjovski, Flores, Fitzgerald, Simon.
Substitutes: Reddy, Griffiths, Caceres, Duke, McBreen.
Despite Brisbane almost having ownership over the Mariners in recent seasons, last season saw a reversal in the trend as the Mariners got 7 points out of a possible 9 off Brisbane, including getting a first ever –end a second- win at home against Brisbane. All three games were reasonably close encounters however, with the first being won off a sloppy free kick and poor marking at the back post, before Brisbane gifted the Mariners a point in the 2nd game up here in Brisbane. The third game between the two sides was a largely abject performance from Brisbane who were fighting to make the finals, while Central Coast were trying to hunt down the Wanderers. The Mariners however had the better of this fixture last season in almost every way, with Brisbane only really threatening them for a brief spell in the 2nd half of the game up here in Brisbane.
In the preseason game between the two sides Brisbane had a lot of the ball and controlled the game for the opening hour before the hosts came back into the game late on. Brisbane won on that day, however it’s worth noting that it was both a) early in pre-season, and b) neither side had anything close to their best XI available
It’s reportedly shaping up to be an overcast weekend down on the Central Coast of NSW with showers and a temperature in the low 20’s predicted for gameday. Kick-off is set down for 4.00pm Brisbane time (5.00pm local) and can be seen live on Fox Sports 1.