Fresh from a season-high third straight win, Adelaide United begin two matches in quick succession against Western Sydney Wanderers, starting with a Wednesday night meeting at Coopers Stadium.
The Reds tackle the Wanderers tomorrow night before travelling to New South Wales to face them on Sunday.
As alluded to, Adelaide is in fine form results wise after registering three consecutive 2-1 victories, most recently sinking Newcastle Jets to lie in third place on the Isuzu UTE A-League ladder.
Western Sydney were unable to consolidate its stirring derby scalp against Macarthur FC, falling 3-1 last weekend.
This promises to be an intriguing clash with both teams coming into the match on short rest and needing points for contrasting reasons.
Will United’s perpetual ability to score late come to the fore again or can they produce a more complete performance from the outset?
Or can the visitors spoil the momentum Carl Veart’s side has established, with the Reds also not beating the Wanderers at home since a 2-0 triumph back in November 2017.
Carl Veart will be without Juande who misses the clash due an accumulation of yellow cards. Nick Ansell, Kusini Yengi and James Delianov remain long-term absentees with respective injuries.
What the experts say
Robbie Cornthwaite: Adelaide are on their longest winning run in the league since this time last year. Joe Gauci has been in excellent form every time he has been called on, allowing Adelaide the opportunity to let their youngsters do the job from the bench. The wanderers weren’t able to build on their derby win. Last week against the Bulls they played some very attractive football in the front half but couldn’t bury their chances.
Robbie Thomson: Adelaide United’s continued late shows are like some self-fulfilling prophecy at the moment. Whether by design or otherwise, the Reds have a belief that they can turn around a contest in the dying seconds – that is great for their confidence and it’s also in the back of their mind of their opponents. Wanderers are ever-improving and feel that their performances are not reflected in their results. The question is when will they turn the corner?
Daniel Mullen: The table doesn’t lie – for the squad they have, Western Sydney have been inconsistent and disappointing. Adelaide will go into this match with confidence and momentum after another exciting last minute winner.
One to watch
Robbie Cornthwaite: Craig Goodwin continues to get the job done for Adelaide. Finding the back of the net or setting up team mates. He’s the most consistent player at the club and always delivers.
Robbie Thomson: Craig Goodwin produced a complete performance against the Jets. His versatility and leadership saw him move from right-wing to left-back, his technique saw him provide an assist from both positions, and his vision saw his direct traffic throughout. He even went close to netting that 35th goal in Red that will ultimately see him draw level with Bruce Djité in the club’s history books and eventually overtake him. Will it happen Wednesday?
Daniel Mullen: Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Mohamed Toure is such a dangerous weapon to have. As well as the obvious, Toure’s raw pace changes the way opponents set up and allows others to find more space.
Robbie Cornthwaite: Mrcela v Ibusuki should be fun to watch. The Japanese import has made the perfect start to like at Coopers and has been a fantastic midseason addition.
Robbie Thomson: The battle for the ball. Dominating possession isn’t always a guarantee of success; WUFC and Macarthur are proof of that. However, the Wanderers (56.8%) and Adelaide (53.1%) are ranked second and fourth in the league respectively and are clearly comfortable with the ball. The team that imposes their game plan, or can adapt quickest to their opponent will be on track to getting all three points.
Daniel Mullen: Craig Goodwin vs Tate Russell. With another 2 assists last match, Russell will need to be at his best to keep him quiet.
One change you’d like to see
Robbie Cornthwaite: I’d love to see Mo Toure given a go from the start but at such a young age and the way he plays I’m happy to go with whatever Carl decides is best. The Boss seems to get the best out of the kids.
Robbie Thomson: Juande’s ability to do the dirty work at the base of midfield and work in deference to his teammates movements and strengths and weaknesses made him crucial to the side’s functioning against the Jets. His suspension against the Wanderers is a blow. How Carl Veart adapts to that and who he brings in will be another key factor in the outcome of this game.
Daniel Mullen: No changes for me except for Juande’s replacement.
Last five meetings
2-2 draw (H)
1-1 draw (H)
2-3 win (A)
5-2 loss (A)
2-3 loss (H)
Robbie Cornthwaite: Adelaide to make it four in a row, 2-1.
Robbie Thomson: The home ground advantage could make all the difference here. Only Glory and Roar have played fewer home games than Adelaide this season. That means that Cooper’s will be seeing plenty of football in the next few weeks and coming off a confidence-building, energy-creating late win could go a long to building a fortress atmosphere in the City of Churches. Add to that, the Wanderers are winless in their last 6 on the road, losing 5 of them, and the form guide suggests another home win. But of course, the theory of the form guide always stands aside for the reality of the pitch…
Daniel Mullen: It will be a close encounter with a few goals in store. 2-2 my prediction.
Wednesday, 16 March vs Western Sydney Wanderers
Isuzu UTE A-League 2021/22
Kick-off 7.05pm ACDT
Venue: Coopers Stadium