Isuzu UTE A-League R10 Preview: Master v Apprentice as Talay looks to tame Italiano’s table toppers

Take a look at all the upcoming matches in Round 10 of the Isuzu UTE A-League

Round 10 of the Isuzu UTE A-League season is here! Ahead of all the action getting underway, previews every game for what’s set to be another blockbuster round of fixtures.


Thursday, 7:45pm (AEDT): Melbourne City v Brisbane Roar

Brisbane Roar may have an interim coach in the dugout for Thursday’s clash with Melbourne City but Aurelio Vidmar isn’t anticipating a big difference between the side formerly coached by Ross Aloisi and the one now overseen by Luciano Trani.

“If the coach was sacked then that first game there’s always going to be a massive bounce,” commented Vidmar when discussing the upcoming match. “But Ross has left and it’s just a continuation for Luciano (Trani). They won’t be any different I don’t think.”

Despite guiding Brisbane to the final of the Australia Cup and garnering four wins from nine league matches Aloisi opted to depart the club in favour of taking up a coaching role alongside former mentor Kevin Muscat at Chinese club Shanghai Port.

Following their recent draw with fierce rivals Melbourne Victory, City are currently on a six-game unbeaten run in all competitions and have lost just once in the league since Vidmar took charge at the start of November.

“We’re building for sure,” said Vidmar. “we’ve taken some big steps from the first day that I got here that’s for sure. I still think there’s an enormous amount of upside for us.

“Draws are not good enough for us, we need to win. The more draws we have the further away we’re going to get from the top spot.”

Melbourne City are unbeaten in their last four meetings with Brisbane (W4, D1) and a win over the Queenslanders could be enough to move them into the top six.

As for Brisbane Roar, the departure of Ross Aloisi has undoubtedly shaken up the club this week following his decision to leave after just nine league matches.

ALOISI DEPARTS: Brisbane Roar announce departure of Head Coach Ross Aloisi

However something that has certainly given them a boost is the news midfielder Jay O’Shea has signed a new two-year contract with the Roar.

The 35-year-old has been in excellent form again this season, scoring four goals in nine matches, whilst he has also created more chances (39) than any other player in the competition.

“I believe in the direction that the club has gone and that’s why I’ve fully committed my future,” said O’Shea upon signing his new deal. “it was never the case for me to try and look what was going to be available in January for me or anything else like that.

“I believe that we’ve got ourselves back to a standard now at the club and it’s up to us to keep us there and to push on and make sure that this club is successful again, and I really feel that, that’s the direction the club has gone.”

JAY’S HERE TO STAY: Brisbane Roar star signs contract extension

Another big boost for Brisbane heading into the clash at AAMI Park is the return of former City midfielder Florin Berenguer to the squad.

The 34-year-old has been out of action since sustaining a quad injury in Round 5 against Perth Glory but has been named in the travelling party for the trip to Victoria.

Of their five away games this season Brisbane have won two, lost two and drawn one while the face a Melbourne City side who have drawn their last three home league matches at AAMI Park.

Team news

Melbourne City squad: 1. Jamie YOUNG (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 4. Nuno REIS, 6. Steven UGARKOVIC, 8. Hamza SAKHI, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (C), 10. Tolgay ARSLAN, 11. Leo NATEL, 16. Aziz BEHICH, 17. Terry ANTONIS, 18. Jordon HALL, 21. Alessandro LOPANE, 22. Curtis GOOD, 25. Callum TALBOT, 26. Samuel SOUPRAYEN, 33. Patrick BEACH (GK), 37. Max CAPUTO, 38. Harry POLITIDIS, 44. Marin JAKOLIS, 46. Ben MAZZEO

Ins: 18. Jordon HALL, 38. Harry POLITIDIS (both promoted)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 7. Mathew LECKIE (hamstring), 15. Andrew NABBOUT (achilles), 34. Arion SULEMANI (ACL), 35. Zane SCHREIBER (knee)

Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Macklin FREKE (GK), 5. Thomas ALDRED (C), 6. Joe CALETTI, 7. Florin BERENGUER, 8. Jonas MARKOVSKI, 10. Nikola MILEUSNIC, 11. Jez LOFTHOUSE, 12. Taras GOMULKA, 14. Rylan BROWNLIE, 16. Thomas WADDINGHAM, 17. Carlo ARMIENTO, 18. Shae CAHILL, 19. Jack HINGERT, 22. Alex PARSONS, 26. Jay O’SHEA, 27. Kai TREWIN, 29. Matt ACTON, 30. Quinn MACNICOL, 32. James NIKOLOVSKI, 35. Louis ZABALA 

Ins: 7. Florin BERENGUER

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 3. Corey BROWN, 13. Henry HORE,  2. Scott NEVILLE, 21. Antonee BURKE-GILROY

OPTA STAT: Melbourne City FC are undefeated in their last 17 A-League Men games against Brisbane Roar FC at AAMI Park (W14 D3) with a 1-2 loss in their first ever meeting at the venue in November 2010 their only defeat to the Roar there.

Melbourne City V Brisbane Roar
Thursday, December 28 2023
Kick-off: 7:45pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+

Friday, 7:45pm (AEDT): Sydney FC v Wellington Phoenix

It’s a classic case of Master v Apprentice in Round 10 when Ufuk Talay’s Sydney FC welcome high-flying Wellington Phoenix and their Head Coach Giancarlo Italiano to Allianz Stadium on Friday night.

Italiano, more commonly known as ‘Chiefy’, has flourished since taking over at the club following the departure of his former boss Talay, who left the ‘Nix at the end of last season in search of a new challenge.

“Chiefy was fantastic for me,” said Talay when asked about his friend and former colleague. “We worked with each other for four seasons and we’d always come up with the game plan together of what we’re going to do against the opposition we’re going to play.

“I spoke to him on Christmas Day to wish him a Merry Christmas…and that always leads to a football conversation!”

Having departed Wellington as the club’s most successful ever coach, Talay seemingly left the club in good hands with Italiano guiding the Phoenix to the top of the Isuzu UTE A-League ladder after racking up six wins from their opening nine games.

“We’re good friends off the pitch,” remarked Italiano when discussing Talay. “We confide a lot of things to each other, that’s part of friendship, but this week is as normal as can be.

“It’s not me versus Uffie, we’re not the ones running out there on the pitch!”

Giancarlo Italiano on facing former mentor Ufuk Talay in Round 10

But while they may have worked together for a long period of time Talay believes the two coaches are certainly different when it comes to setting up their sides.

“(They’re) maybe a lit bit more defensive,” said Talay when discussing his Wellington side compared to the current one. “In saying that they’re defensive, they’re still very attacking in those transition moments. Chiefy has got them well organised and they work as a unit, they defend as a unit and we’ve got to find those moments to try and exploit them.”

The Sky Blues head into the contest off the back of their recent 4-2 win over bottom placed Western United, with a double from Joe Lolley helping Talay secure a third win from his six matches in charge.

However they’re coming up against a Wellington Phoenix team that’s unbeaten away from home this season and also possesses the best defensive record in the competition, conceding just 7 goals in 9 matches.

“If it’s to go anything off the past he’ll know us quite well,” said Wellington Phoenix coach Italiano. “But our style is very distinct, very different, very hard to find tactical solutions which curb all our threats.”

Of those threats would normally be leading striker Oskar Zawada however the Pole is still likely to be out of action for another few weeks as he continues to recover from a thigh injury, with Italiano revealing he’s recently had more fluid drained from the contusion in his leg.

Sat in 9th position, Sydney FC currently have nine points to their name and all of those have been acquired since Talay took charge. Meanwhile their defensive record remains an issue, having conceded 10 goals in their last five games and are still yet to keep a clean sheet this season.

OPTA STAT: Giancarlo Italiano (Wellington Phoenix) has won six of his first nine games as manager in the A-League Men (D2 L1) and will be looking to become the first manager in the history of the competition to win seven of their first 10 games.

Sydney FC v Wellington Phoenix
Friday, December 29 2023
Allianz Stadium
Kick-off: 7:45pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+

Saturday, 5:30pm (AEDT): Newcastle Jets v Western United

Both sides head into this contest off the back of defeats in Round 9, with Newcastle beaten 3-1 on the road in Adelaide while Western United suffered a 4-2 loss at the hands of Sydney FC.

For the Jets, they’ll be looking to make it back-to-back wins against Western having beaten them back in Round 4 to secure their first victory under Head Coach Rob Stanton.

However their subsequent run of five games since that win has seen them pick up just four points from a possible 15 and they’ve conceded 10 goals during that period leaving them with the second-worst defensive unit in the competition.

The goals of Apostolos Stamatelopoulos have kept Stanton’s side competitive throughout the season with the Aussie striker bagging seven goals in eight games while midfielder Clayton Taylor has also chipped in with three goals and an assist in his debut season.

MUST READ: The Newcastle Jets have unearthed a gem & his rapid rise has been ‘surreal’

As for Western United, after snapping their six-game losing streak against Brisbane Roar in Round 8 John Aloisi’s side were brought back down to earth last weekend, beaten 4-2 on their travels against Sydney FC.


As a result, Western have now slumped back to the foot of the ladder having lost seven of their nine games this season.

Aloisi’s side have struggled in front of goal this season, finding the back of the net just seven times whilst a lack of confidence and defensive frailties have been ruthlessly exposed at times, with the four goals scored by Sydney FC last weekend taking Western United’s goals against column to 21.

Despite being the away team for this fixture Western are likely to have more of the ball at McDonald Jones Stadium given the Jets are the side with the lowest average possession (43.6%) in the league this season while the pair have been somewhat shy when it comes to shooting, with both teams averaging below 5 shots on target so far.

As for the recent record between the two sides it’s Western United who hold the better record, winning four of the last 10 meetings, while Newcastle have won just ONE of their last eight matches at home.

OPTA STAT: Western United FC have lost their last four A-League Men games as the away team on the day, conceding four or more goals in three of those four games.

Newcastle Jets v Western United
Saturday, December 30 2023
McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 5:30pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+

Saturday, 7:45pm (AEDT): Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United

Episode Two of the Original Rivalry for Season 2023-24 of the Isuzu UTE A-League sees Melbourne Victory head into the clash with Adelaide United as the only undefeated side left in the competition.

Tony Popovic’s team survived a late scare against Melbourne City in Round 9 to seal a draw against their cross-town rivals and with it, move three points behind league-leaders Wellington Phoenix.

Top-scorer Bruno Fornaroli was nullified by the City defence in that game, who limited the Socceroos striker to just two shots – an impressive job given he’s found the back of the net 12 times so far this season.

As for Adelaide United, Carl Veart’s team snapped a three-game losing streak in Round 9, beating Newcastle Jets 3-1 at Coopers Stadium in a morale-boosting performance which saw the impressive Zach Clough take his tally to five goals for the season.

That win over the Jets was the Reds’ fourth of the campaign and the three points picked up saw them retain their spot in the competition’s top six.

These two sides are the top-scoring teams in the Isuzu UTE A-League this season with Victory finding the back of the net 19 times while Adelaide have scored 20 meaning we could be in for a goal fest at AAMI Park.

The last three editions of the Original Rivalry have finished in 1-1 draws while Adelaide will head to Victoria with a certain degree of confidence given they are unbeaten against Melbourne Victory in their home state in the last five matches.

OPTA STAT: The Melbourne Victory have scored 11 goals in the first halves of games this A-League Men season, more than any other team in the competition, while only Western United FC (12) have conceded more first-half goals than Adelaide United (8) this season.

Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United
Saturday, December 30 2023
Kick-off: 7:45pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+

Sunday, 7:00pm (AEDT): Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory

Central Coast Mariners will be hoping for plenty of fireworks on New Years Eve when they welcome Perth Glory to Industree Group Stadium.

Despite enduring a rocky start to life under new Head Coach Mark Jackson which saw them lose their opening four matches, the defending Champions have steadied the ship and are now just two points behind sixth-placed Adelaide.

Last week’s impressive 3-0 away win over Brisbane was their third victory in the space of five games – a run in which they are also unbeaten – and it’s been largely spearheaded by forward Angel Torres.

The 23-year-old has taken a while to settle into the Isuzu UTE A-League, most notably getting sent off in the earlier meeting between these two sides in Round Three, but has since gone on to score six goals whilst also registering two assists, making him one of the most dangerous propositions in the competition.

With Torres in such scintillating form and dovetailing nicely with the brilliant Marco Tulio, the Mariners will fancy their chances of improving their record against Perth given they’ve won just two of the last 14 meetings.

As for Perth, Alen Stajcic’s side recorded a huge come-from-behind victory in Round 9, defeating Macarthur FC 3-2 at HBF Park.

Glory trailed that contest 2-0 at the break following another disappointing first-half showing however goals from Salim Khelifi, Luke Ivanovic and David Williams secured the three points for the home side to secure just their second win of the season.

While he may not have scored in that game, Adam Taggart certainly continued his impressive start to the season, registering his second assist of the campaign to go alongside his five goals in eight matches.

With Taggart in excellent goalscoring form it’s no wonder Alen Stajcic’s team has the highest shot conversion rate (13.6%) in the competition this season while the Mariners are narrowly behind them, converting 13.5% of their efforts.

Glory picked up their first win of the season in this fixture in Round Three, defeating the Mariners 2-0 at HBF Park, and can take confidence from the fact they’ve not lost at Industree Group Stadium since 2017, winning five and drawing two of the last seven meetings there.

OPTA STAT: No team has a higher shooting accuracy in the A-League Men in 2023 than the Central Coast Mariners (53%), two percentage points higher than the Perth Glory (51%) in that term; though, the Mariners have made 144 more shots at goal in that time than the Glory.

Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory
Sunday, December 31 2023
Industree Group Stadium
Kick-off: 7:00pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+ & 10 Bold

Monday, 5:00pm (AEDT): Western Sydney Wanderers v Macarthur FC

Last but certainly not least is a Western Sydney derby to close out Round 10 in the Isuzu UTE A-League as the Wanderers host Macarthur FC at CommBank Stadium.

Despite putting in a good performance in Round 9 Marko Rudan’s side returned home from Wellington with little to show for their efforts after conceding two late goals in a 2-0 loss to the league-leaders.

That defeat was the Wanderers’ second in the space of three games and leaves them five points off top spot in the competition.

As for the opposition, Macarthur were flying high and enjoying an unbeaten start to the season up until Round 8 but have subsequently suffered back-to-back defeats since then with the latest a 3-2 loss to Perth Glory in a game where they led 2-0 at half-time.

Something that will be of concern for Bulls boss Mile Sterjovski is the fact his side have also now conceded three goals in three of their last four league matches and have kept just two clean sheets all season.

Macarthur take on the Wanderers looking to end a run of four games without a win against their city rivals but that will certainly be no easy feat at CommBank Stadium given Marko Rudan’s side have kept four clean sheets in their last five matches at the venue.

The team from Campbelltown do pose a formidable threat up front though with both Valere Germain and Matt Millar scoring four times in the league this season and they’ve created more ‘Big Chances’ (28) than the Wanderers (19) according to Opta data.

The game will also be an intriguing battle of styles with the Wanderers preferring a game plan which has seen them hit more accurate crosses per match (6.8) and score more headers (6) than any other team this season while Macarthur sit bottom of the former category, registering just 2.9 accurate crosses per match.

OPTA STAT: Western Sydney Wanderers FC players have been dribbled past just seven times per game in the 2023/24 A-League Men season, fewer than any other team in the competition and three times per game fewer than Macarthur FC (10).

Western Sydney Wanderers v Macarthur FC
Monday, January 1 2023
CommBank Stadium
Kick-off: 5:00pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+