Every week that I've been watching, I've noticed one thing. This season of the A League is one of the most competitive/unpredictable in recent years. Even the clubs lower down the table are still sticking it to some of the league's top contenders, despite a bit of a points difference.
There's a 6 point gap between 4th and 5th, but only 3 points separates 9th placed Mariners from the 5th placed Jets. It's still too early to call Sydney premiers just yet, and still too early to say who will definitely be playing finals. Let's take a look at this week's action.
GAME OF THE WEEK
How can you go past a good old fashioned derby?
This week's Melbourne derby was supercharged from the last 2 clashes between the pair, the whopping 5-1 game and the FFA Cup semi final. City have been flying, while Victory have slowly but surely worked their way up. Regardless of table positions, it's always going to be a huge game. It didn't disappoint, plenty of spite, couple clashes of egos on field. Berisha's goal proved to be contentious after the game, replays showed a hint of offside but it was extremely tight to call in real time. Not like City haven't had their favours either.
I was on the edge of my seat, I couldn't relax. Every pass, every shot, everything was critical, and it made for a hell of a game.
GOAL OF THE WEEK
Another round brings another selection of goals to choose from. I managed to narrow it down to 3, but I only pick one. Despite the handball foul being disputed, Brisbane Roar's Dimitri Petratos scored a ripper free kick from distance and put it in the far side top corner. It's always incredible to see free kicks scored, and Petratos' goal reminded me of the Carlos Hernandez days for the Victory. Great strike, let's hope we see more of these this season.
A mention goes out to Roy O'Donovan for scoring against the Roar. An inch perfect through ball by Fabio Ferreira lead to the Irishman scoring his 5th of the campaign. Beautifully worked and finished.
And also to Western Sydney's Santalab. Scoring an acrobatic volley straight off a corner deserves a mention any week of the season. As the commentary team said, Santa delivers at Christmas time.
THE UNHERALDED HERO
Whoever has been criticising Besart Berisha's lack of goals, thank you. To all of you. After scoring a perfect hat trick against Western Sydney, he scored the winner in the Melbourne derby, despite replays suggesting a hint of offside. I'll take it as revenge for that weird goal in the FFA Cup and move on
That goal took his recent tally to 4 in 2 games, and puts him atop the golden boot race for the season with 9, and equalled Archie Thompson's all time goal scoring record in the league.
All that happened after some fans said he should be dropped due to not performing. Cheers guys, this one goes out to you.
It was announced this week that legendary A League marksman Shane Smeltz will be returning to the Wellington Phoenix in January. The Kiwi striker most recently had a stint in Malaysia but has elected to return to his first A League club.
Say what you want about his age, but for me it shows that the A League can still bring back some good calibre players to our competition. The strikers in this league are already exciting, with an array of talent across the competition. I'd name them, but I'd be here for a while if I did that.
Smeltz adds experience and great goal scoring ability to that. He'll be giving Besart Berisha a run for his money and will have his eyes on the all time goal scoring record as well. He currently stands at 89 goals.
Haven't seen a goalkeeping howler for a little while, but what was Jack Duncan thinking??
The Newcastle stopper must've had a bit of a brain snap as he opted to punch Isaias' free kick, only for it to end up in the back of the net. Seemed like it should've been a pretty ordinary catch, Robbie Slater says it's a regulation catch, but it happened. Check it out.
Tim Cahill making too many headlines for the wrong reasons, booing doesn't affect me, texting his missus, complaining on social media. When a player says the booing spurs him to play better, and the following week instructs his missus to take his kids out early, what does that tell you? Looking tough for the camera perhaps?
A. I think any football fan knows that it's one thing to criticise a player, and another to personally attack his family. Personally, I'll hang crap on you while you're playing for City. That's it. You're a Socceroos legend, my childhood hero, but there's no chance I'm gonna say a thing about anyone's family in football.
B. You've played at some of the biggest, most fanatical places in Europe, but somehow we're the worst? You've gotta be kidding me right?
C. Shut up, you whine too much. On the field is one thing, but when you start making comments and complaining on social media, you really look like a child that can't get over the tiniest of incidents.
Pull your head in mate, you play so much better when you don't let these distractions get to you.