The 2017/18 A-League season is now sixteen games old, and for the most part, the table betrays a very familiar story.
Sydney FC are already well on course for another coronation as league premiers, with just one defeat and an enormous goal difference of +26. With other teams lying in wait to steal Sydney’s twin crowns, and a Champions League campaign for the Sky Blues to negotiate, the off-season was all about finding a man for every occasion.
In Adrian Mierzejewski, Sydney FC has just that person, and he is one of five standout signings thus far in 2017/18.
Adrian Mierzejewski (Sydney)
Arriving on a three-year deal on 12 August 2017, the Polish midfielder is currently on eight goals with his new club, a return which has aided what is shaping up to be another successful assault on the Premiers’ Plate. The tale of Mierzejewski’s career is one of perseverance and adaptability. Stints with native clubs Wisla Plock and Polonia Warsaw proved unremarkable, as did a spell at Turkish side Trabzonspor.
A return of eighteen goals in forty-three appearances for Al Nassr, between 2014 and 2016, represented an upturn in form for Mierzejewski, leading him to eventually become part of Sydney’s long-term dream to rule for generations.
Dimitri Petratos (Newcastle Jets)
Those that take a look at the latest A-League odds can see that Newcastle’s odds are shortening by the day, providing bettors with food for thought. Ending 2016/17 rock-bottom of the A-League few could foresee anything other than more abject misery for Newcastle. Last summer, Petratos made the long trip from Ulsan to Newcastle as an unwanted man after being deemed surplus to requirements in the K-League.
With two good spells (at Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar) behind him, it stood to reason that Petratos would return to Australia for a third time. It is almost as if he never left.
Through his attack-minded vision, Petratos has been the scourge of the A-League, returning just over a goal every three games so far. His presence in a domineering front four, combined with the revolutionary tactics of Ernie Merrick, enabled Champions League-bound Newcastle to spend Christmas in a comfortable second place.
Massimo Maccarone (Brisbane Roar)
The ageless Maccarone, now approaching his third decade as a pro, has proven his doubters wrong since arriving from Italian side Empoli on 17 July. A product of AC Milan’s renowned youth system, Maccarone has never lost his killer instinct, and he is currently averaging a goal every other game for Brisbane Roar.
Along with vast experience, Maccarone also boasts versatility, and his ability from the ‘number ten’ position gives ninth-placed Brisbane a small modicum of hope for the remainder of the A-League season. A top six berth is not entirely out of the question for Brisbane, but Maccarone and his Roar teammates must begin to deliver more consistently.
Roy O’Donovan (Newcastle Jets)
So far, O’Donovan is only one of two men to score a hat-trick in 2017/18, and boasts a monstrous strike rate of 140% to date. Sadly for Newcastle, O’Donovan will remain sidelined until mid-March at the earliest, but plans are already in place to make the most of the Irishman’s talents next season.
With Newcastle flying in the league, O’Donovan has every reason to stay on for at least another year. His versatility, as a striker and winger, will also be a great asset if – as expected – Newcastle can finish a miraculous turnaround and qualify for the 2019 AFC Champions League.
Oriol Riera (Western Sydney Wanderers)
WSW sneaked into the top six last season, but it was only persistent displays of defensive resilience that allowed Sydney’s red faction to do so. Just three points behind Perth Glory in 2016/17, and with the same goal difference, the fact that WSW scored eighteen goals fewer made it crystal clear that a greater degree of dynamism was needed in attack.
A new arrival, Oriol Riera is another player that has shown promising form. With the Spaniard maintaining a scoring rate of around 50% throughout 2017/18, WSW are well on course to improve on last season’s meagre tally of goals.