A-League Men Round 6: Macarthur FC vs Sydney FC
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
Live stream: Paramount+
Last time they met: Round 2, Sydney FC 0, Macarthur FC 1 (Rose 17′) at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
COVID is causing havoc with A-League fixtures at the moment, but for now, Sydney FC’s trip to Campbelltown on Boxing Day is still going ahead.
It will be the second meeting between the two Sydney sides for the season, after Lachlan Rose’s 17th-minute goal proved the difference back in Round 2 at Jubilee.
Steve Corica’s side goes into this clash off the back of the first win of their campaign, a 2-1 result over the struggling Wellington Phoenix.
It was, of course, a relief to finally get the three points at the fifth time of asking, but it was hardly a convincing performance from the Sky Blues.
Goals from the in-form Elvis Kamsoba and ever-reliable Adam Le Fondre did the damage for Sydney before Ben Waine’s 83rd-minute strike made for a tense finish.
Thankfully, Corica showed some flexibility with his team selection, providing youngster Patrick Yazbek with his first start in the engine room. We can only hope this spells the end for the Paulo Retre-Anthony Caceres partnership that the manager has persisted with for much too long, and for unknown reasons.
There could have been some more experimentation planned for the FFA Cup clash with Brisbane Roar, but that fixture was postponed after Roar had “trouble boarding their flight“. It would have been a good opportunity to give some other up-and-comers some valuable minutes against decent opposition, but I digress.
In this week’s game, I’d like to see the same midfield and attacking line-up. Alfie’s spot is obviously safe, and I’m encouraged by what Caceres, Max Burgess, and Kamsoba have shown so far in this campaign.
Unfortunately, and contrary to what was previously thought, Miloš Ninković is not immune to the effects of ageing.
Ninko’s game time needs to be managed carefully and it does seem this means we’ll be seeing him starting from the bench more often than we’re used to. But that doesn’t mean he can’t influence this game – a well-timed sub, around the 60th minute, could be very fruitful.
Macarthur are enjoying a dominant start to their 2021-22 campaign – after five games, they’re still undefeated and have only dropped two points so far.
I must admit I haven’t seen much of them other than their first two games, but they must be doing something right.
A look through their line-up for last week’s clash with Newcastle shows they’ve got quality across the park.
Boasting attacking weapons including Lachlan Rose, Craig Noone, and Daniel De Silva, the Bulls will create chances, so we need to be strong defensively.
Ex-Premier League midfielder Jordan Mutch is a handy option for Ante Milicic, but his fitness is unclear. Still only 30 years of age, you’d expect a fit Mutch – much like Jack Rodwell over in Parramatta – to be a standout at A-League level.