Liberty A-League R7 Preview: Jets looking to avoid unwanted record in clash with Sydney FC

A-Leagues reporter Nalin Mastou takes you through all the fixtures from round seven of the Isuzu UTE A-League 2023-24.

Round Seven of the Liberty A-League gets underway this Friday. previews every match.

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Friday, 7:00pm (AEDT): Western Sydney Wanderers v Central Coast Mariners

Liberty A-League action returns on Friday night when Western Sydney Wanderers host Central Coast Mariners at Wanderers Football Park.

The Wanderers went into the international break with plenty of wind in their sail after defeating Western United 2-0, claiming their first victory of the season.

It caps off a promising spell for Robbie Hooker’s side, who a fortnight earlier pushed Melbourne City all the way in a 4-3 loss, and drew 1-1 with Newcastle Jets a round earlier.

Sophie Harding has led the charge up front, scoring three goals in two games, including a brace against City.

Their opponents, Central Coast lost their first game since Round 1 before the break, falling to a heart-breaking 2-1 defeat against Melbourne Victory on the road.

The Mariners have been impressive throughout their return to the Liberty A-League, but were undone in crunch time against Jeff Hopkins’ side – with McKenzie Weinert scoring the winner in second-half stoppage time.

Central Coast parted ways with goalkeeper Courtney Newbon during the break after her injury replacement deal came to end, paving the way for Sarah Langman to return to the squad – alongside Casey Dumont who made her club debut against Victory.

Opta stat: Western Sydney Wanderers have scored three and two goals respectively in their last two games in the Liberty A-League; the last and only time they scored multiple goals in more consecutive games was a three-game stretch in December 2016.

Western Sydney Wanderers v Central Coast Mariners
Friday, December 8 2023
Wanderers Football Park
Kick-off: 7:00pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+, 10 Play

Saturday, 4:00pm (AEDT): Adelaide United v Western United

Kat Smith’s tenure in charge of Western United gets underway on Saturday afternoon, as last season’s runners-up take on Adelaide United at Marden Sports Complex.

Smith was announced as their new head coach last week, replacing the outgoing Mark Torcaso who resigned from his post after just over a season in charge.

The former Western Sydney Wanderers boss will be looking to get Western back on track after an up-and-down start to the campaign, that’s seen them take home seven out of a possible 18 points.

Western have scored six goals in six games so far this season, 1.8 fewer than their Expected Goals tally for the campaign so far; no team has trailed their xG by more this campaign.

Kahli Johnson has been one of their best performing players and most dangerous outlets in attack, making 12 carries ending in a shot at goal this season, which is five more than any other player in the competition.

Meanwhile, Adelaide are still looking for their first win of the season, sitting second last on the table on two points, although bottom-placed Canberra United have two games in hand.

Adrian Stenta’s side surrendered yet another lead in their last fixture against Brisbane Roar, which extended their winless run to nine games – a streak which stretches back to March 2023.

Their defence has been a major cause of concern during this spell, having conceded at least two goals in all but one of those matches.

Opta stat: Adelaide United have dropped seven competition points from winning positions in the 2023-24 Liberty A-League season, the most of any team in the competition, while no team has gained more points from losing positions than Western United (four).

Adelaide United v Western United
Saturday, December 9 2023
Marden Sports Complex
Kick-off: 4:00pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+, 10 Play

Saturday, 4:00pm (AEDT): Melbourne City v Perth Glory

A top of the table clash headlines Round 7 when Melbourne City face Perth Glory at Genis Steel Stadium.

City leapfrogged Perth into first place on the standings before the international break after defeating Sydney FC in a thrilling 3-2 victory on the road and Glory’s first loss of the season to Wellington Phoenix in Auckland.

Dario Vidosic’s side are the only undefeated team remaining in the competition, with five wins and a draw to their name and are the highest scoring team with 15 goals – averaging 2.5 goals a game.

However, Vidosic’s greatest cause for concern would be in the back-half, with City copping 10 goals this season and nine of those in the last four games.

Seven of Melbourne City’s last nine games have seen them both score and concede multiple goals on the day, including their last four games in a row – which could hint in a high scoring affair at the home of Preston Lions.

Perth, on the other hand, are itching to bounce back after surrendering a one-goal lead in their 2-1 loss to Wellington.

Glory haven’t lost back-to-back games since January 2023, showcasing how Alex Epakis’ side have been able to pick themselves back up off the mat after losing this calendar year.

This match is the third of a tricky run of games for Perth, who take on Sydney FC at home next week, before back-to-back road trips to take on Western United and Central Coast Mariners.

NOTE – City Members will go free. Kids – including Liberty Pass holders – will also be able to gain free entry for the top-of-the-table matchup. Non-members will be able to purchase tickets at the gate only, with adults priced at $10 and concessions $5.

Opta stat: Perth Glory logged a come-from-behind 4-3 win in their last A-League Women game against Melbourne City, snapping a five-game losing streak against them; in fact, the Glory have scored 4+ goals in each of their last three wins against them but those wins have come over a six-year span (W3 L6).

Melbourne City v Perth Glory
Saturday, December 9 2023
Genis Steel Stadium
Kick-off: 4:00pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+, 10 Play

Sunday, 2:00pm (AEDT): Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory

Wellington Phoenix will be looking to keep the good times rolling, when they welcome Melbourne Victory to Porirua Park on Sunday.

Paul Temple’s side returned to the winner’s list before the international break with an impressive 2-1 win over Perth Glory, taking them into third place on the standings.

However, the ‘Nix side that took the field in Auckland for said match against Perth will have a number of new faces after Chloe Knott departed the club and Marisa van der Meer was struck down by a season ending knee injury.

In better news, Macey Fraser should return to the squad after missing due to illness.

Meanwhile, Victory went into the break riding a four game unbeaten run, turning their season around brilliantly during November after consecutive defeats to begin the campaign.

McKenzie Weinert’s late goal ensured Jeff Hopkins’ side would head into the international break in fourth place on the standings and right in the hunt for the Liberty A-League Premiership.

Victory are unbeaten in their three matches against Wellington (W2, D1), but drew 2-2 with the ‘Nix in their last meeting during the last round of the 2022-23 season, which almost cost them a finals berth.

Opta stat: Wellington Phoenix have won their last three games on the bounce at home in the Liberty A-League but haven’t kept a clean sheet in New Zealand since a 5-0 defeat of Canberra United in January 2023.

Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory
Sunday, December 10 2023
Porirua Park
Kick-off: 2:00pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+, 10 Play

Sunday, 4:00pm (AEDT): Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC

Sydney FC are set to be bolstered by the welcome return of star duo Cortnee Vine and Kirsty Fenton for the trip to take on Newcastle Jets.

Vine has been out of action since suffering a hamstring injury during Matildas camp in October, missing Sydney’s entire AFC Women’s Championship campaign and the last two matches in the league.

Meanwhile, Fenton has been out of action since sustaining an injury in Uzbekistan and after playing through it in the final match against Hyundai Steel Red Angels, she’s missed the last two matches.

However, the duo look set to finally return, providing a much needed boost for the reigning champions, who went into the break off the heels of a 3-2 loss to Melbourne City.

Ante Juric’s side sit in eighth, but currently have two games in hand on most of the sides in the competition, due to their commitments in Asia. With an almost full strength squad to pick from, the Sky Blues are well placed to truly get the ball rolling on their season.

Newcastle, however, came into the break with a much needed 4-3 win over Canberra United, ending a four game winless run.

The arrival of Emily van Egmond on a four game guest stint has provided a huge boost, as has Sarina Bolden, who scored twice in her club debut against Canberra. The clash with the Sky Blues will be Van Egmond’s penultimate game of said stint and has already tallied two goals and two assists to her name.

Newcastle have lost each of their last nine matches against Sydney, and haven’t won back-to-back games since February 2019.

Opta stat: Sydney FC have won their last nine consecutive Liberty A-League games against the Newcastle Jets, scoring four goals in each of their last two games against them; the Sky Blues’ last defeat to the Jets in the competition came in November 2017.

Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC
Sunday, December 10 2023
No.2 Sportsground
Kick-off: 4:00pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+, 10 Play

Sunday, 4:00pm (AEDT): Canberra United v Brisbane Roar

Free scoring Canberra United will be hoping to turn their fortunes around when they welcome Brisbane Roar to McKellar Park.

Njegosh Popovich’s side incredibly have the best goal per game average in the entire competition with 2.5, but sit bottom of the standings after only claiming one point from a possible 12.

Canberra’s leaky defence has been their Achilles heel, copping 13 goals from four games, which is also the worst defensive record per game – averaging 3.25 goals conceded.

They are, however, unbeaten in their last five games against Brisbane, albeit four of those matches have ended in draws, including each of the last three.

A key to victory for Canberra will be Vesna Milivojevic who is in red hot form. The Serbian international has been directly involved in 10 goals in her last six league matches, scoring a whopping nine goals and tallying one assist.

However, she is yet to score or tally an assist in three matches against Roar.

Brisbane, meanwhile, sit in fifth on the standings with eight points but are winless in their last four games (D2, L2).

Their current winless span is their worst since April to December 2021, where they went five games without a win (D1, L4).

Alex Smith’s side have been resolute defensively this season, conceding only six goals, but have only scored six goals of their own – which is the equal-second worst attacking record in the league along with Western United and Western Sydney Wanderers.

Opta stat: Canberra United are currently scoring at a rate of 2.5 goals per game (10 goals in 4 games) which is the joint highest of any team in the competition and their highest game average in a season since 2016-17 (2.54).

Canberra United v Brisbane Roar
Sunday, December 10 2023
McKellar Park
Kick-off: 4:00pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+, 10 Play