Jeronimo has been important for Adelaide this season. Image courtesy of Morne de Klerk/Getty Images
When Adelaide United snuck home 1-0 against Western Sydney in round 2, giving the A-League debutant back-to-back losses to start the season, it would have been hard to imagine Tony Popovic’s team as a top four contender. But just over two months on, the Wanderers have found a home among the competition’s elite, with a 2-0 derby win over Sydney FC moving them in to fourth on the table.
Considering Adelaide only had the now defunct Gold Coast United propping it up on the ladder at the end of last season, it is still somewhat of a surprise to see the Reds fighting it out with Central Coast for top spot. It was this time last season John Kosmina took the reins of the Reds from sacked coach Rini Coolen, and the former Socceroo has developed a squad which has taken care of business against teams in the bottom half of the table.
United is still to prove it can consistently beat fellow top five aspirants, though, as its two losses have come against the Mariners and Victory, while fifth-ranked Perth shared the points in its round 6 visit to Hindmarsh Stadium. Peculiarly, this is the fourth time this campaign Adelaide has been on a two-game winning streak, but they haven’t been able to stretch it any further in the first 11 rounds. With Argentine Marcelo Carrusca firing, the Reds are probably in the best form they’ve been in all season following a 4-2 win over Victory and last weekend’s 3-1 disposal of Wellington.
The Wanderers will be buoyed by the win over Sydney FC, which backed up the 1-0 defeat of Brisbane the week before. Adelaide has scored in every one of its matches so far, but Western Sydney has conceded just eight goals in 11 games, so after seeing the scoreboard ticking over regularly the past fortnight, the Reds might find the new boys a tougher nut to crack. Star midfielder Aaron Mooy came off the bench after coming back from Socceroo duty last week, but will be a welcome addition to the starting XI this week.
Click here to bet on A-League matches