Adelaide's purple patch built on sharing the love

Want a snap-shot of why Adelaide United are the best team in the A-League right now? They have the best defence in the competition and join Perth Glory in first when it comes to the number of different goalscorers (12) and multiple scorers (seven).

Adelaide United

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The table-topping Reds are irresistible in attack and defence as they look to stretch their unbeaten run to 15 games when they play fourth-placed Melbourne City at Coopers Stadium on Friday night.

Even City, who are the league's highest-scoring team with a whopping 54 goals in their 22 games, don't have as many different scorers (11) or multiple scorers (seven) as Adelaide.

City rely heavily on Bruno Fornaroli (20 goals), Aaron Mooy (10) and Harry Novillo (nine) to score, and Mooy (19 assists) to set up the goals.

But the pressure is mounting that trio to keep delivering because of City's defensive issues. City have conceded 38 goals and the only teams that have conceded more are ninth-placed Wellington Phoenix (42) and last-placed Central Coast Mariners (52).

Adelaide will obviously aim to limit the impact of Mooy, Fornaroli and Novillo as much as possible and rely on their many threats in the attack to punch holes in City's often-vulnerable defence.

City had a rare clean sheet against Sydney FC last weekend, winning 3-0, but, let's face it - the Sky Blues have got serious issues when it comes to scoring goals and were without their most prolific goalscorer, Alex Brosque.

One of the key developments for Adelaide has been front-man Bruce Djite finding his scoring touch again after a long drought.

Djite has never been a heavy goalscorer, but the way Adelaide are now they don't need him to be. They just need him to score on a reasonably consistent basis whilst continuing his high work-rate, make his physical presence known, as he does so well, and hold up the ball for others.

His five goals for the season have all come in Adelaide's last seven games.

"Bruce has been fantastic," Adelaide goalkeeper and captain Eugene Galekovic said. "He's starting to score a few goals, but even before that his work-rate was right up there with the other best strikers in the A-League.

"We've got at least five players who are always a chance of either scoring goals or setting up goals and that must be great to watch from the outside."

Pablo Sanchez is Adelaide's leading scorer, with six. Marcelo Carrusca, like Djite, has five, Craig Goodwin and Sergio Cirio four apiece, Bruce Kamau and Stefan Mauk two each and Isaias, Dylan McGowan, Mate Dugandzic and Michael Marrone all have singles.

Jimmy Jeggo also scored once before departing to continue his career in Europe.

Teams with genuine multiple threats are a nightmare for opponents, particularly when the team also has a terrific defence. That just heaps more pressure on the opposition.

It is probably no coincidence that Perth, with their 12 scorers and seven multiple scorers, are the other best-performed team in the competition recently.

The breakdown for the other seven teams is: Central Coast Mariners, 10 scorers and six multiple scorers, Wellington nine-six, Brisbane Roar nine-five, Sydney FC nine-five, Western Sydney Wanderers eight-seven, Newcastle Jets eight-four, and Melbourne Victory six-four.

Those Victory figures will no doubt surprise a lot of people, but at the same time go a long way towards explaining why they haven't been the same team this season as last, when they won the Premier's Plate and championship double.

Besart Berisha, with 15, has three times as many goals as any other Victory player.

Adelaide have a new central defence this season, with Dylan McGowan and Jordan Elsey mostly combining there. United have conceded 25 goals in 22 games.

"The defence has been great," Galekovic said. "The two young boys at centre-back haven't missed a beat and Iacopo La Rocca has played there in a few games as well and been strong.

"Their attitude is great and their desire to not concede goals and hunger to win games, that's the biggest thing. We've worked hard all season and we're getting the rewards now."

Another huge plus for Adelaide has been Craig Goodwin's brilliant form on the wing. Goodwin had been shifted  between fullback and wing at several clubs over the years, including Adelaide, but new coach Guillermo Amor has consistently put him in the attacking position.

"Craig's best role is on the wing and whipping balls in," Galekovic said. "He's putting defences under a lot of pressure."

And ever since midfield playmaker Carrusca came back into the starting side after being temporarily benched by Amor, he has had a big impact.

Galekovic said the improvement in the individual players and the team since the first eight rounds, when Adelaide had three draws and five losses, had been enormous.

"You look at our first eight games and you look at us now and everyone was below par then," he said.

"Not just one or two players, everyone turned up probably 20 per cent down on their form from last season, but everyone has slowly got that form back and are playing at their best now.

"We're getting better and in the last five rounds we've got to keep improving and reach our peak going into the finals."

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5 min read
Published 11 March 2016 at 10:47am
By Greg Prichard