Five things we learned from A-League Round 21

Derby delight, frustrating officials and a taste of revenge rounded off what was another entertaining weekend of A-League action.


Source: Getty Images

A class above

Sydney FC continued their derby dominance over rivals Western Sydney Wanderers with a 3-1 victory at Allianz Stadium on Sunday night.

A brace to Adrian Mierzejewski and a goal to Bobo, the Brazilian’s 21st of the league campaign, completed the comfortable win despite going down early courtesy of Oriol Riera.

The Spaniard’s goal, a result of Andrew Redmayne’s inability to deal with a cutback, sparked wild scenes at the away side’s active end as the Red and Black Bloc defied FFA – and club – warnings to set flares alight.

While the FFA are yet to respond to the matter, it represented the only bit of joy Wanderers fans would get as Mierzejewski brought the home crowd to their collective feet with a masterful performance.

The Poland international now has 12 A-League goals this season along with 7 assists – a remarkable feat with six domestic games left to play and the Johnny Warren Medal firmly in his sights.

For head coach Graham Arnold, the result was expected given the 54-year-old’s near-perfect record (one defeat in his last 13 meetings) against the Wanderers.

"Stats don't lie, and this is a pretty lopsided derby,” Arnold said after the game. “I think the most lopsided derby in Australian football."

And with the Sky Blues a whopping 26 points ahead of Josep Gombau’s men, it appears the gulf in class between the two clubs is now apparent in every sense.

Do your job!

"I usually say it evens itself out over the year. It hasn't.”

John Aloisi was left fuming yet again after officials seemingly spurned his Brisbane side a chance back into the match against the Newcastle Jets on Saturday night.

After Joseph Champness broke the deadlock with just over 10 minutes remaining, the Roar saw late claims for a penalty fall on deaf ears as Ernie Merrick’s men held on for the 1-0 victory.

“Every single fan in the stadium saw it,” Aloisi said of the incident. “Their fans saw it, their players saw it."

Nikolai Topor-Stanley appeared to make contact with Avraam Papadopoulos just inside the box, but neither referee Stephen Lucas, nor video assistant referee Chris Beath felt the need to intervene.

"Maybe we might get a sorry this week from (FFA),” Aloisi added on the mistake.

The 42-year-old is the latest head coach to publicly bemoan league officials after Adelaide United’s Marco Kurz and Merrick himself lashed out for similar reasons last weekend.

With the pair previously labelling recent refereeing performances as one-sided and “disgraceful”, Aloisi came to the conclusion that the officials are flat-out failing to do their job – an alarming remark considering the VAR’s presence in today’s game.

The A-League’s own Hazard

Football fans and pundits alike are obsessed with comparing world football’s greatest young talents to those past and present, so it should be no surprise that Melbourne City’s Daniel Arzani is no exception.

No, before you roll your eyes, it’s not Lionel Messi, but rather Chelsea’s own Eden Hazard.

If similar size and stature doesn’t convince you, surely the positional capabilities and playing style will.

Arzani’s low centre of gravity, quick change of pace and ability to dribble past defenders at will has become rather reminiscent of the highlight reels Hazard has produced since his days with Lille.

In fact, the 19-year-old’s superb solo effort during City’s 2-1 defeat to Perth Glory on Saturday night showed just why the Iranian-born Australian has become the hottest talent in the country.

After collecting a long ball played out to him on the left wing, Arzani brought the ball to a near-standstill, stood veteran Dino Djulbic up, before cutting inside and curling a gorgeous shot into the top corner.

While it wasn’t enough to earn Warren Joyce’s men all three points in the end, it was certainly the latest example of the wonderkid’s potential.

Put some respect on my name

Neil Kilkenny rolled his frustrating time with Melbourne City this season up into a ball and slotted it past Dean Bouzanis to help new club Perth Glory take all three points on Saturday night.

The former Socceroo opened up midweek on his time under coach Warren Joyce, revealing the former Manchester United Reserves manager showed him no “respect” despite earning City’s Player of the Year award last season.

"He (Joyce) never spoke to me about it,” Kilkenny said of his release. “It's obviously personal … a bit of respect would have been nice.”

But after finding the back of the net in what was just his fourth appearance for the Glory, it is the 32-year-old who will fittingly have the last laugh, after celebrating his effort directly in front of the City bench.

"I'm sure he (Joyce) did (see it)," he said after the game. “To go from what I was last season, to non-existent this season ... people don't know what I went through mentally."

Joyce’s questionable demeanour has rubbed a few players the wrong way already this season, with Kilkenny’s release coming almost two months after Socceroos star Tim Cahill also sought the City exit.

Nevertheless, Glory’s 2-1 come-from-behind win, completed by Adam Taggart’s injury-time header, has kept their finals hopes alive with just six games remaining in the regular season.

Behave yourself

Adelaide United found themselves a man down for the second successive week on Saturday night, but unlike last week’s efforts against the Central Coast Mariners, there was to be no comeback.

After establishing a 2-0 lead just before the half-hour mark, Melbourne Victory later rode their one-man advantage and a Besart Berisha goal to earn their first win in five matches.

"Today it was a very experienced team against a young team,” coach Marco Kurz said of Adelaide’s performance. “My boys, in a lot of situations, were too scared."

Unfortunately, new Reds signing Dzengis Cavusevic only made matters worse, receiving a straight red card for slapping Victory’s Rhys Williams less than 10 minutes after coming on.

The Slovenian’s senseless act comes after Ersan Gulum saw red after just 18 minutes against the Mariners.

While Kurz may brush this result off with United seven points safe inside the top six, his young side – ranked third and second in yellow and red cards respectively – will need to fix their disciplinary issues if he is to have a full-strength line-up at his disposal for the finals. 

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6 min read
Published 26 February 2018 at 10:40am
By Jonathan Bernard