A-League Elimination Final 2 Preview
Tonight, on the 20th of April 2014, the second elimination final will take place with the winner to book a spot in the semi final. The combatants? Melbourne Heart, the free-wheeling, take it when it comes team versus the iron clad defence of the Newcastle Jets. Who will come out on top? Let’s look at the stats.
In their past 3 games, the Jets have won once and the teams have drawn both other times. When Melbourne hosted Newcastle at their home ground, AAMI Park, they were trounced 3-0 and when they played away, they drew. Unfortunately, if this is anything to go by, then the Heart could be in for some trouble as the elimination final will be played at AAMI Park.
The Heart finished in 4th in the regular season, with 12 wins, 8 goals and 7 defeats. They could win easily, but when they lost they seemed to lose big as they had a GD of just +6. The manager John van ‘t Schip uses a 4-5-1 formation, with a very quick front 3 usually involving the likes of Nathan Burns, Iain Ramsay, Mate Dugandzic, Harry Kewell and Jason Hoffman. Massimo Murdocca will be on his own in the midfield, with his fellow centre mids injured. Therefore, youngster Enock Kwakwa will have to take the leap to the first team. Jonas Salley will plug the hole between defence and midfield, and is capable of playing out and just assisting the defence. The back 4, comprising of Aziz Behich, David Vrankovic, Patrick Kisnorbo and Rob Wielart, has a good mix of styles of play. Behich is a more attacking wing back, whilst Wielart is a natural centre back who will aid the young Vrankovic and experienced campaigner Kisnorbo. In goals is seasoned keeper Andrew Redmayne, a typical reliable keeper.
The Heart can play very well, but when they go down they seem to lose morale and throw results. Hopefully they can be more resilient in this match because the Jets are known for scoring quick goals and then defending, exactly what the Heart are weak against.
The Newcastle Jets bounced back from a disappointing start to finish 5th, after they lost the chance to finish 2nd. Towards the start of the season, they tried to go with the more attacking teams and failed, so in January manager Sean-Paul Lodovico transformed the team into a solid defensive unit and they rose steadily up the table as a result. The Jets also play a 4-5-1, and rely on target man Emile Heskey as an outlet to goal or a scorer himself. Young player of the year Andrew Hoole will play on the right wing, hoping to recapture his early season form; whilst the quickest man in the A-League, Alex Henshall, will be on the left. James Brown and Ruben Zadkovich will fill the playmaker and ball winner roles respectively in central midfield and Ben Kantarovski will be a half back, patrolling the space between the lines. In defence, David Carney and Josh Brillante will fill a variety of roles at full back and Taylor Regan and Connor Chapman will do their usual job as centre backs. Goalie Mark Birighitti will be relied heavily upon to make the same kind of saves he pulled off earlier in the season.
The Jets are brilliant in defence, and Lodovico relies on a quick, early goal to seal the deal. This play could frustrate the Heart and be a potential match winner.
The Melbourne Heart will be playing at home, which is a huge advantage in a knockout match. However, history tells us the Jets have the edge at AAMI Park, and they also exploit Melbourne’s weaknesses. This will probably not be a very high scoring match, however it is sure to be a very important one. The winner will advance to play Wellington Phoenix; the loser will be knocked out. Join us tonight for full coverage!