With Round 2 of the Isuzu Ute A-League Men Season just around the corner, The Inner Sanctum takes a look at what you can expect this coming weekend.
1. Is this Josh Nisbet’s breakout season?
Last week, Josh Nisbet scored his debut A-League goal for the Mariners in his 43rd appearance, and it seems that the pocket rocket is ready for a break-out season in the A-League Men.
Standing at only 160cm, Nisbet has played numerous positions previously for the Mariners including defensive midfield, left midfield, and right midfield, but it seems that coach Nick Montgomery is set on trying Nisbet in a centre forward role to start the season.
Nisbet played in the centre forward position on Sunday for the Mariners, scoring a goal and creating two key chances. He will be one to keep an eye on again this weekend and for the rest of the season.
Nisbet will be in action for the Mariners on Saturday afternoon at 5:05pm AEDT against Wellington Phoenix.Embed from Getty Images
2. Melbourne Victory need a big attendance turnout
Whilst known for their success and stellar supporters, last season’s drop in performance also saw a drop in crowd attendance.
With their first home match scheduled for this weekend, a big turnout is needed to start a new era for Victory under Tony Popovic.
For the first time ever last season, Victory averaged less supporters per game than cross-town rivals Melbourne City – even with MV having over 7000 more members for the season.
A new era is brewing at Melbourne Victory – a completely refurbished squad, a new coach and a win away to Western United in the first match of the season – there is no reason why there should not be a big turnout by the fans this weekend.
Melbourne Victory take on Brisbane Roar Sunday afternoon at 4:05pm AEDT.
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3. Leo Lacroix against a lethal strike force
One of the more exciting defensive signings this season, Leo Lacroix excelled for Western United in the first round of the A-League Men season.
Although his side ended with a 1-0 loss, Lacroix showed that Western United fans he is not here for a holiday.
He showed brilliant composure, strength, and footballing IQ whilst also winning three-out-of-five ground duels and displaying his passing qualities by completing four-out-of-seven accurate long balls.
Whilst it was an impressive display, a big test awaits him in Friday night’s clash against Perth Glory, where he will have to show his defensive qualities against some of the best forwards in the league – Bruno Fornaroli and Daniel Sturridge.
It’s likely that Sturridge will once again be on limited minutes as he works his way back to full fitness, but the possibility looms that both himself and Fornaroli could both be on the pitch at the same time, which could prove to be very tough to handle for Leo Lacroix and the Western United defenders.
Catch Lacroix and Western United in action on Friday night against Perth Glory at 7:45pm AEDT.Embed from Getty Images
4. Calem Nieuwenhof’s time to shine
Sydney FC midfielder Luke Brattan will unfortunately miss the rest of the season after succumbing to an ACL injury in Wednesday night’s FFA Cup clash against Sydney Olympic, but it has opened up a door for bright talent Calem Nieuwenhof to show the league what he can do.
The 20-year-old only managed nine matches in what was an injury-riddled 2020/21 campaign, however he showed great composure and a brilliant work-ethic in the midfield role that Brattan plays so well.
Although it’s possible that the more experienced campaigner Paulo Retre could start as he did against the Wanderers last week, it’s likely that Nieuwenhof gets an opportunity at some point during the match. Given his performances last season, he really is a prospect for Sydney FC fans to get excited about.
Nieuwenhof’s Sydney FC take on Macarthur FC on Saturday night at 7:45pm AEDT.
Last match week can be considered as a ‘blowing out the cobwebs’ week as Round 1 of the A-League Men season provided fans with very close contests with minimal goals.
With Round 2 just around the corner, expect the lethal attacks of the likes of Melbourne City, Perth Glory and more to provide fans with more complete and exciting attacking performances as squads start settling into the new season.
Round 2 of the A-League Mens Season begins with Western United hosting Perth Glory at AAMI Park Friday night at 7:45pm AEDT
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