As we approach the half-way mark, the A-League is finally starting to show some clear differences between the teams.
Sydney FC are undoubtedly the strongest team as they defeated Adelaide United at home, while Melbourne City continued their chase by defeating Western United in a dramatic match where they almost surrendered their three-goal advantage.
Wellington Phoenix join City in the chase at the top as they handled the challenge of Central Coast Mariners. Melbourne Victory are making a belated dash with their convincing victory against the league’s punching bag Newcastle Jets. Western Sydney Wanderers’ plight continues at the bottom following their loss at home to Brisbane Roar.
Here are the five best players from Round 13 of the A-League.
Veteran striker Roy O’Donovan has been dropped in recent weeks leading to plenty of talk about whether he might be past it, but not enough about his 19-year-old replacement who has looked every bit of a quality player in his past two matches.
He might not have gotten on the score sheet but against Western Sydney on New Year’s Day he showed that this is definitely the level he belongs in.
The teenager’s movement continued to pull the Wanderers defence out of position and his understanding with his own teammates was what helped produce the winner as he exchanged a one-two with Brad Inman who then fired a low drive into the back of the net.
As a former striker himself, Robbie Fowler will hopefully have a very good understanding of what Muratovic needs to continue to develop, and that might even mean that O’Donovan could sit out a few weeks longer yet.
Last week against Sydney FC, I was especially critical of Noone’s performance, so it was inevitable that he would suddenly prove himself to be the top-quality player we all thought he was after his displays in the FFA Cup.
Finally, against Western United, Noone came alive as he ran laps around the opposition defence to help his team storm to a 3-0 lead at half-time. He produced a beautiful chipped ball behind the defence to get Luna into an easy scoring position for City’s second goal.
It’s been hard to figure out what might Noone’s best position be as he shifts between the left and right flank, but after Friday night, most would certainly be leaning towards the right-hand side where he can cut back in to get on his stronger left foot.
The question will now be whether the Englishman can maintain this form for a few more weeks or whether we will only continue to see these types of performances in spurts rather than for an extended period of time.