Winners

Wellington Phoenix

Surprises are nothing new this season – but even the most optimistic Wellington Phoenix fans would have been sceptical about their teams chances this season.

Ufuk Talay and the Phoenix recruitment team deserve a massive pat on the back.

Not only have they created a highly competitive side but one which could finish as high as second on the table – shaking off the pretenders label and setting themselves up for a huge finals second half of the season.

Friday night’s match may have been overshadowed by the goal-fest at Bankwest Stadium but there was no hiding Wellington’s dominance against Western United. Had it not been for Filip Kurto making several inspiring saves, the coffin would have been nailed long before David Ball’s 90th minute goal with the Phoenix controlling the game right from the word go.

Both Ulises Davila and David Ball can have cases made for them as to why they should be considered the signings of the season, while Cameron Devlin has been a revelation in midfield – filling the void left by the injured Alex Rufer and Louis Fenton – giving this side a strong pulse heading into finals.

A-League, Phoenix v Victory, 15 February
Image – NZ Herald

Manchester United

Manchester United is back in the hunt for a Champions League return after a convincing win over lowly Watford, with new recruit Bruno Fernandes justifying his price-tag in a strong performance.

Fernandes opened the scoring right on half-time before second half goals to Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood sealed the win for United, who now sit fifth without a loss in three matches.

Despite fifth being the most sought-after position in the Premier League after Manchester City’s expulsion from the Champions League, United will have the top four in their sights.

A trip to Everton awaits the Red Devils before they host the season’s second Manchester derby at Old Trafford.

Sydney FC

One minute and fifteen seconds.

That’s all 18-year-old Marco Tilio needed to score his first A-League goal and securing the three points for Sydney FC against the Central Coast Mariners.

Tilio replaced Adam Le Fondre in the 88th minute and immediately thrust himself into the game – starting the play which led to his eventual goal before playing a part in setting up Y-League teammate Harry van Der Saag three minutes later – who also scored his first professional goal.

tilio
Image – Fox Sports

Losers

Newcastle Jets

It’s been a tough campaign for the Jets in the W-League.

The sacking of Ernie Merrick saw Craig Deans leave his post as W-League post and take over the men’s team, exacerbating to the departures of several key players at the start of the season.

The end of the season can not come quickly enough for the Jets, who suffered their biggest ever defeat in a seven-nil drubbing at home to Melbourne Victory.

In doing so, Victory made up some of the ground lost in last week’s heavy derby defeat as they jump to third on the table with one match remaining.

Real Madrid

This weekend could prove to be a costly one for Real Madrid.

Not only did Los Blancos surrender their lead on top of La Liga but now have several injury concerns ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League tie with Real Madrid.

Belgian international Eden Hazard limped off in the 67th minute with an ankle injury and will join Gareth Bale on the sidelines, who is also in doubt for Wednesday after picking up a knock to his calf.

hazard

Adelaide United

Concerns over Adelaide’s away form are starting to amplify with the Reds having conceded 17 goals in their last six games away from home.

While Ben Halloran continues to provide plenty of positives for Adelaide, the side’s leaky and at times non-existent defence will be a concern for Gertjan Verbeek, as Bruce Kamau ran rings around them in his best performance for some time.

Despite sitting comfortably inside the top six, injuries to key players – especially up front – has led to some radical shifting of the magnets by Verbeek, which has seen Stefan Mauk line up at right back and George Blackwood in midfield.

The Reds have the opportunity to rectify Friday’s defeat when they travel to Marvel Stadium to take on the Victory on Saturday – a venue where the Victory is yet to record a win this season.

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athossirianos
athos.sirianos@gmail.com
First year Journalism student at RMIT University. Looking to get the truth out while having a bit of fun.