The wait is over: the A-Leagues are officially in full flight.
Kick-off to the 2021/22 Liberty A-League season on Friday night sees the women’s competition join the Isuzu UTE A-League men’s competition in providing wall-to-wall football action this weekend, with 11 games packing the schedule between December 3-5.
With Club Championship points on the line, the stakes have never been higher as the A-Leagues action unfolds.
LIBERTY A-LEAGUE: WELLINGTON PHOENIX v WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS
Wellington Phoenix enter the Liberty A-League for the very first time in 2021/22, playing a club-first fixture in the competition against Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday night. The red and black travel to face the ‘Nix at WIN Stadium, Wellington’s home away from home in Wollongong.
The Wanderers won three of five games to end the 2020/21 season, and with new head coach Catherine Cannuli at the helm there’s a new wave of positivity at the club. There’s bound to be fireworks as both clubs aim to beckon in a new era with a win.
KEY STAT: Wellington’s Lily Alfeld made more saves (54) and more punches (13) than any other keeper in the 2020/21 season.
ISUZU UTE A-LEAGUE: WELLINGTON PHOENIX v WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS
The ‘Nix will look to continue a club-record unbeaten streak of 13 games when welcoming the Wanderers to WIN Stadium on Friday night. Ufuk Talay’s side sit third on the Isuzu UTE A-League table after two rounds, whilst the struggling Wanderers are yet to win a game under Carl Robinson this season. A 2-2 draw with Newcastle Jets in Round 2 meant the Wanderers earned two points from a pair of home games to start the campaign, making this road trip to Wollongong key to kickstarting the 2021/22 season.
KEY STAT: The Wellington Phoenix have won five of their last eight Isuzu UTE A-League games against Western Sydney Wanderers (D1, L2), including a 2-1 win at CommBank Stadium in their last encounter.
LIBERTY A-LEAGUE: CANBERRA UNITED v MELBOURNE CITY
Club legend Ashleigh Sykes returns to Canberra United this season to team up with Allira Toby and Michelle Heyman in a frightening Green Machine attack. Canberra welcome Melbourne City to Viking Park in Round 1, a team bolstered by the arrival of its own attacking firepower in Football Ferns striker Hannah Wilkinson. Rebekah Stott, meanwhile, makes her triumphant return to lead City’s defensive line into battle.
KEY STAT: Canberra picked up a 2-1 win in their last game against Melbourne City in January 2021, snapping a three-game losing streak against them; they have never won back-to-back games against City in the competition.
ISUZU UTE A-LEAGUE: BRISBANE ROAR v ADELAIDE UNITED
The Reds are flying and the Roar are flailing – but that could all change as the Queenslanders return home for the first time this season.
Brisbane are pointless after two rounds of Isuzu UTE A-League action, losing 2-1 to Melbourne City before tasting defeat at the hands of Melbourne Victory the following game. Adelaide have collected two points from their first two fixtures, a pair of draws notched against Perth Glory and Melbourne City which have shown plenty of signs of encouragement for the South Australian side.
KEY STAT: Adelaide United have won seven of their last nine Isuzu UTE A-League games against Brisbane Roar FC (L2), including their last two meetings on the bounce.
LIBERTY A-LEAGUE: SYDNEY FC v NEWCASTLE JETS
The Sky Blues return to action determined to go one step further in 2021/22 after falling at the final hurdle last season, tasting Grand Final defeat at the hands of Melbourne Victory. Cortnee Vine is back from injury and ready to make an impact in attack for the Sky Blues, who have bolstered their squad with the key signings of Maria Jose Rojas, Paige Satchell, Sarah Hunter and Jessikah Nash.
The Jets fly into Round 1 with a similarly impressive list of recruits of their own, with Norwegian international Marie Markussen and United States defender Elizabeth Eddy headlining the arrivals supporting the talents of the likes of Tara Andrews, Gema Simon and Lauren Allan looking to guide the Jets up the table this season.
KEY STAT: Sydney FC have won their last five games in succession against Newcastle Jets, the longest winning streak of either side in the history of this fixture.
ISUZU UTE A-LEAGUE: MELBOURNE CITY v WESTERN UNITED
After a hiccup in Round 2, Melbourne City will be out to set the record straight against Western United this weekend. Conceding two late goals in a 2-2 draw with the Reds was a stinger for Patrick Kisnorbo’s reigning champions after a first-round win over the Roar. Western United, meanwhile, are buoyant after notching a 1-0 win over Perth Glory in Round 2. John Aloisi’s side have conceded just one goal to date this season in a 1-0 loss to Victory in Round 1, but that defensive solidity will be put to the test against a City strike force laden with Socceroos.
KEY STAT: Western United picked up a 2-1 win in their last Isuzu UTE A-League game against Melbourne City (April 2021), their maiden win against City after having lost all five of their previous encounters.
ISUZU UTE A-LEAGUE: SYDNEY FC v NEWCASTLE JETS
Sydney FC are winless after two rounds, increasing the importance of this Round 3 clash for the Sky Blues to target as a season kickstarter. But it won’t be easy to defeat the Jets, who under Arthur Papas have shown energy and an identifiable style of play as the new boss stamps his philosophies on the playing squad. Both teams have picked up one point from two games to start the season.
KEY STAT: This will be the 50th meeting between Sydney FC and the Newcastle Jets in the Isuzu UTE A-League; the Sky Blues have won 29 of their previous 49 encounters with the Jets – their joint-best win rate (59%) against any team they’ve faced at least 10 times (also 59% v Perth Glory).
LIBERTY A-LEAGUE: PERTH GLORY v BRISBANE ROAR
No wins in 2020/21 left Perth Glory hungry for improvement this season – but a winning start to the new Liberty A-League campaign will be tough to obtain against a Brisbane Roar outfit tipped to impress.
New Roar boss Garrath McPherson recruited strongly in the off-season, with CommBank Matildas star Katrina Gorry headlining the new signings. The Queenslanders travel out west to face a Perth Glory side bolstered by the return of Lisa De Vanna, a late inclusion to the Glory squad who has significantly strengthened Perth’s attacking stocks.
KEY STAT: Perth Glory made 11 touches inside the opposition box per game last season, the fewest of any team in the competition and 15 per game fewer than first-ranked Brisbane Roar (26).
Have you heard our new A-Leagues anthem yet? Listen below!
ISUZU UTE A-LEAGUE: MACARTHUR FC v CENTRAL COAST MARINERS
Macarthur FC’s impressive 1-0 win over Sydney FC in Round 2 shone a spotlight on the Bulls, who begin the weekend in fourth spot on the Isuzu UTE A-League table. One spot behind Macarthur sit the Mariners who began the campaign with a strong F3 Derby win over the Jets, only to fall to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Wellington in Round 2.
KEY STAT: Macarthur FC picked up a 2-0 extra-time win in their last Isuzu UTE A-League game against the Central Coast Mariners (2020/21 elimination final); although, they have lost all three of their regular season meetings with the Mariners.
LIBERTY A-LEAGUE: MELBOURNE VICTORY v ADELAIDE UNITED
The first Liberty A-League fixture of Channel 10’s weekly Sunday afternoon showcase of women’s football begins with an Original Rivalry bout between Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United.
Victory, the reigning Champions, are in the conversation for silverware contention once again this season, with all eyes focussed on how CommBank Matildas star Kyra Cooney-Cross can take her game to a new level this season. The travelling Reds missed out on a club-first finals campaign on goal difference alone last time out, and head coach Adrian Stenta will know that to go one step further this season, opportunities to convert in-game dominance into points will be paramount from the very first round of action.
KEY STAT: Adelaide United have opened a campaign with a win only once in their history in the competition (D5, L7).
ISUZU UTE A-LEAGUE: MELBOURNE VICTORY v PERTH GLORY
Melbourne Victory head coach Tony Popovic faces his former side for the first time on Sunday afternoon, as he welcomes Perth Glory to AAMI Park in the final game of a landmark A-Leagues weekend.
Popovic departed Perth after the 2019/20 campaign. He took on the job as Victory boss this season, and in doing so lured three former Glory stars – Jason Geria, Nick D’Agostino and Chris Ikonomodis – out west, along with Jason Davidson and Matthew Spiranovic, a pair of Perth defenders who contributed to the club’s Premiers Plate win in 2018/19.
Now, the Victory squad with a Glory flavour will face off with the West Australian outfit searching for a first win of the season. Star man Daniel Sturridge was the notable omission from the Glory side which lost 1-0 to Western United in Round 2, and Perth fans will be praying to see his name in the match day squad this time around.
KEY STAT: Melbourne Victory have won their opening two games of the 2021/22 Isuzu UTE A-League season; the last and only time they opened a season with more consecutive wins was a seven-win streak to start the 2006/07 season.
OUR LIBERTY A-LEAGUE SEASON PREVIEWS
By Tom Smithies and Matt Comito
Adelaide United: Can Chelsie Dawber lead the Reds into the post-season?
Brisbane Roar: Gorry returns – but do departures take their toll?
Canberra United: Tune in to the Heyman and Sykes renaissance
Melbourne City: Another season of obscurity for the heavyweights?
Melbourne Victory: Can the champions go back-to-back?
Perth Glory: De Vanna arrives eager bounce Perth back up the table
Wellington Phoenix: can the exuberance of youth help Wellington make a fast start?
Western Sydney Wanderers: Can coach Cannuli inspire a postseason charge?
LISTEN: Join Danny Townsend, Daniel Garb, Robbie Cornthwaite and Amy Chapman for a special edition of the Official A-Leagues Podcast. Listen here, or via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify.