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Preview: Western Sydney Wanderers vs Central Coast Mariners

WSWvCCM2013/14 A-League Semi Final
Western Sydney vs Central Coast
Saturday 26th April, 6:30pm AEST
Venue: Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta.
Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones.
Broadcast: Live on Fox Sports 3/3HD; Delayed coverage on SBS2/HD.

It’s Grand Final replay time on Saturday evening, with the Western Sydney Wanderers looking to exact revenge on the Mariners for their defeat in the Final last season, and the boys from Central Coast trying to continue on their winning ways – all the way to a possible Grand Final berth next week, against either Brisbane Roar or Melbourne Victory.

How they got there – Western Sydney Wanderers

Western Sydney left it late against Melbourne Heart in round 27, but a come-from-behind 3-2 win was enough to displace Melbourne Victory, and claim 2nd place on the A-League ladder. That ensured the Wanderers a week off, and a potential matchup with their grand final opponents from last season, the Central Coast Mariners.

How they got there - Central Coast Mariners

Central Coast played their five-man defensive structure last week against 6th placed Adelaide United, and with one counter-attacking movement, Bernie Ibini ensured that the Mariners would progress to the second week of the finals, and a matchup with the Wanderers in Parramatta.

The statistical breakdown

This Season: Western Sydney 1 win, Central Coast 1 win, 1 draw; Goal difference: Western Sydney +1.
At Central Coast Stadium: Western Sydney 1 win, Central Coast 1 win, 1 draw.
Last Match: Central Coast 2-1 Western Sydney (29/03/14 at Central Coast Stadium)
With Kris Griffiths-Jones as referee: Western Sydney 2 wins, 4 draws, 1 loss; Central Coast 5 wins, 4 draws, 2 losses.
In finals matches: 
Central Coast 1 win (Grand Final 2013/14 at Allianz Stadium)

Facts and Figures

  • The last meeting of these two teams ended 2-1 to Central Coast Mariners, at Central Coast Stadium (Goals to Rose, Ibini & Topor-Stanley).
  • Last time at Pirtek Stadium, Western Sydney defeated Central Coast 2-0 (Goals to Juric and Hersi).
  • Mariners have won 6 of their last 8 A-League matches, and have kept a clean sheet in their last 2 (against fellow top 6 teams Brisbane and Adelaide).
  • Mile Sterjovski, if involved, will this week play his 50 A-League game for Central Coast.
  • These two teams have kept more clean sheets than any other teams this season (Western Sydney 10, Central Coast 9).
  • Tomi Juric has scored against the Mariners in two of their three clashes this season.
  • John Hutchinson, if involved, will move to outright 2nd in A-League appearances (202), behind Matt Thompson (221).
  • Of all major A-League stadia, Pirtek Stadium averages the least amount of goals per game (2.28). The next least is Suncorp Stadium (2.63).
  • Shinji Ono, if involved, will this week play his 50th A-League game for Western Sydney.

Injury and Suspension List

Western Sydney Wanderers: Gol Gol Mebrahtu (knee), Tahj Minniecon (ankle).
Central Coast Mariners: Marcos Flores (knee), Adam Kwasnik (knee), Marcel Seip (knee).

Where Western Sydney have the advantage

  • ACL Scheduling
    Western Sydney’s Champions League draw really fell in their favour once they sewed up 2nd place in the A-League. Their last trip to Asia would be played during their week off, and their home fixture against bottom placed Guizhou Renhe would fall on a Tuesday night before a Saturday final. Add to that that the Wanderers never really had to get out of third gear against an understrength and disinterested Guizhou outfit, and that the Mariners had to travel to Asia on Wednesday, and the tight scheduling has definitely fallen in the Wanderers favour.
  • Scoring for fun
    The Wanderers have now pocketed 10 goals in their last 3 matches in all competitions. Not only are they scoring plenty, the goals are coming from a wide range of sources, including Tomi Juric, Brendon Santalab, Shannon Cole, Mark Bridge, Shinji Ono, and Labinot Haliti. If they can continue this run of scoring form, the Mariners will find it very difficult to keep the home side quiet on Saturday.

Where Central Coast have the advantage

  • Nick Montgomery and the defence
    The Mariners have kept high-tempo Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United scoreless in their last two A-League outings, and only conceded in their home Champions League fixture last week due to an unfortunate own goal. Playing with Nick Montgomery as a sweeper in front of their traditional back four has clearly served the Mariners well, and may well be a structure they once again implement this weekend.
  • Solid A-League form
    Phil Moss took a substantial amount of criticism earlier in the season when his side lost four on the bounce and looked a chance to miss the finals altogether. Fast forward two months, and the Mariners have won 6 of their last 8, and are one of the more in-form teams remaining in the competition.

Verdict

As with last week, you would assume the Mariners would sacrifice a large portion of possession and attempt to hit their opponents on the counter attack. The Wanderers, though, are in much better scoring form than Adelaide were, and are incredibly difficult to keep down at home – particularly with their raucous twelfth man in the stands. Couple that with the Mariners tough Asian travel schedule, and the Wanderers fairly comfortable one, and it should be the home side progressing through to the Grand Final next week. Western Sydney 2-0 Central Coast.

About the author

avatarJustin is a passionate football fan, and the Editor-in-chief of Ultimate A-League.

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Comments

  • britesparke

    Whilst the WSW scored plenty against a substandard Guizhou Rehne outfit, CCM are an entirely different proposition and I believe this will be a tough, tight contest. I remain unconvinced of WSW goal scoring form particularly against their nemesis, the mariners.