With the Melbourne Victory, (and to a lesser extent) Adelaide, failing to take advantage and jump to top spot, here are three thoughts from that intense 2-2 draw.
Victory fail again to take top
What is with the Melbourne Victory and the opportunity to take top spot? Three weeks ago, the boys faced Wellington Phoenix with top spot up for grabs. We lost. Against Perth Glory a fortnight ago; a 1-1 draw. Again, Victory could have gone top (although the Phoenix can grab it back later) and once again it finished with 2-2. Now, you could put down last night's performance to United's roughhouse tactics, or Melbourne's lack of drive, but it is clearly a growing concern now. One time is a missed opportunity, but three times highlights a mental block. It seems when the pressure is truly on, the Victory crumble under it. Kevin Muscat has to begin working on changing that attitude if they want that Premiership, and most importantly, that home semi-final.
Referees again make the headlines, but for something different this time
Muscat said it best: “I think we would have seen a lot more from him if he wasn’t fouled every time he got the ball. Four out of five times he gets the ball, he's fouled." He's talking about Fahid Ben Khalfallah. The Tunisian opened the scoring with a lovely strike, and early on was invovled in all the Victory's best work. Then United began fouling him at every opportunity. And then began fouling every Victory player from there on.
You can say that it was about United's pressing and pressuring that lead them to have a foul count of 24, compared to Victory's 11. The problem was only three yellow cards were dished out to United, and for those watching the game, there were plenty of fouls that were not called, cards that were not given.
For all the fuss that everyone makes about referees making game-altering mistakes (surely someone noticed Jimmy Jeggo running from an offside position?) one of the biggest gripes for me, is their lack of control of games. Fouls are not called (how many times did Nigel Boogard come right through Besart Berisha and nothing was given), cards are not given (Berisha in turn "accidentally" looked to have elbowed Boogard) and the game usually descends into madness (Perth Glory anyone?). It has happened time and time this season.
But let's put that on the list of what the FFA has to do this off-season.
Thompson haunts Adelaide again
Archie said it before the game: he has a love-hate relationship with United. On Saturday, you can see that it might be leaning towards the "hate" side. Cometh the moment, cometh the man, and Archie is clearly still the big man for the big occasion. Put through by a lovely Gui Finkler ball, Thompson ran past Galekovic and from a tight angle, squeezed the ball in to level the scores. Is there a better player that can go one-on-one with a 'keeper?
It is the second straight game that Archie has started after Kosta Barbarouses' injury. He has two goals to his name and it is clear that he still has plenty to offer. Maybe that contract extension does not look like a bad idea.
What do you guys think? Should the referees make an effort to control the game more? Can Victory bounce back?