We cast our eye over some interesting statistics and identify where the teams need to improve following the opening round of the Hyundai A-League.
It's never easy to judge how your team is going to go in round one and this certainly proved the case when season nine of the Hyundai A-League kicked off. Some teams picked up from where they finished last campaign, while others bucked trends that had crept into their game. We cast our eye over some interesting statistics stemming from the opening round of the competition and identify your team's strengths and where they need to improve heading into matchday two.
Sydney FC v Newcastle Jets
Sydney FC got their campaign off to the best possible start in the Hyundai A-League season opener, with new captain Alessandro Del Piero leading from the front with a goal and an assist. The Italian superstar has now scored 10 goals in his last 12 appearances for the Sky Blues. Just as pleasing for coach Frank Farina will be the fact his side managed to keep a cleansheet, as they had the worst defensive record in the league in 2012/13. The Jets will be disappointed with their effectiveness from the several set-piece opportunities they had, especially considering they scored the highest proportion of their goals from these situations in the A-League last season.
Central Coast v Western Sydney Wanderers
It-s not surprising that last season-s Champions and Premiers Plate winners couldn-t be separated in their grand final rematch at Gosford in round 1. The match pitted last season-s joint best attack (Mariners 48 goals) with the league-s best defence (Wanderers 21 goals conceded). Going into the match the home team had never scored in the four previous meetings between the two sides - but the Mariners put a stop to that when they grabbed the game-s opener. Meanwhile the Wanderers were able to continue their habit of dominating scoring opportunities despite being starved of the ball at times. The Wanderers averaged less possession than any other side last season (43%) on their way to claiming the minor-premiership in their inaugural season.
Melbourne Victory v Melbourne Heart
Melbourne Victory had won just three of their nine encounters against the Heart going into Saturday night-s derby, however they had won the past two. Striker Archie Thompson had scored in both of these encounters but was unable to find the back of the net against a much improved Heart defence. The Red and White went into this match having ended last season with five straight losses. They have also rectified their form on the road, with the 0-0 result putting a stop to a league high joint record nine consecutive away defeats. The Heart only won once on the road all last season so coach John Aloisi will be hoping they can carry their resolute display throughout the season.
Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar
Wellington continued their trend of being cagey starters in their clash against the Roar. There was not a single goal scored in the opening 15 minutes of a Hyundai A-League game involving the Phoenix last season. This run will continue for at least another week with Stein Huysegems- opener coming on 22 minutes. For the Roar, Besart Berisha picked up where he left off last season. The striker netted six goals in his final nine A-League appearances last season and made sure he got his name on the scoresheet once more. The Phoenix were desperately unlucky not to take anything away from this game but unfortunately the Roar continue to be their bogey side, as they-ve lost more games against them (12) than any other team in the competition.
Adelaide United v Perth Glory
Defense has never been Perth Glory-s strong suit, though they can be forgiven for looking a little shaky at the back against Adelaide having been without their pre-season centre back pairing of Michael Thwaite and Lujbo Milosevic. Including finals matches Glory have conceded more goals than any other club in the A-League-s history (302) and have now failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 16 league matches. Adelaide continued their good form against the Glory and now have two wins and two draws from the last four matches between the two sides. Nearly 80% of the Reds goals last season came from open play - the highest proposition in the league. This trend looks set to continue under Josep Gombau given the high possession, short passing game he is aiming to implement at his new club.