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Five things we learned from the A-League round 8

1. Popa’s Spanish acquisitions are a class above.
Watching the triangle created by Alberto, Andreu and Dimas linking defence and midfield was a real pleasure on Sunday at Gosford, the ball moved effortlessly and intelligently.
Two moments of individual brilliance, as Ned Zelic would put it, stood out — the drag back by Alberto to wrong foot an opponent, and the back heel by Andreu to switch the angle of attack.
2. The league is split in two, and it’s still November (just).
Six points now separates the Mariners, in eighth, from Wellington just a place above, with Perth and Adelaide even further behind at the foot of the table.
None of the three has shown much likelihood in recent weeks of closing that gap, and their goal differences are starting to balloon out into minus territory.
We really don’t want the finals race to become six from seven — for the good of the league, we need wider competition.
3. Perth are not happy campers.
Goalkeeper Ante Covic is usually good value for some home truths and he didn’t hold back after the 5-1 hammering at Melbourne City — “more holes than Swiss cheese” was about the nicest thing he could say about the defence.
Coach Kenny Lowe keeps offering whimsical commentary on his side, but he’ll have to get serious before his job is seriously questioned.
4. Fouls are in the eye of the beholder.
Sydney FC were angry enough with the performance of referee Chris Beath to protest to FFA about him, but was he really that bad?
There were a lot of free kicks in the game but only a handful looked — to the neutral — unreasonably soft.
Sydney also had two penalty appeals waved away — again, to the neutral, correctly. Public grandstanding against officials isn’t going to do the team’s cause any good.
5. The fans won’t be taken for granted.
It was the death threats and abuse to a particular journalist that garnered the headlines, but out of the horrendous coverage football had for the past week grew collective fan responses that were intelligent, reasoned and well executed.
FFA: 'Should be right, not popular'
After a week of silence, near enough, FFA scrambled to respond, but the real lesson here is the power that could be harnessed for the game.

1Melbourne Victory7511147+716
2Western Sydney Wanderers FC8512127+516
3Brisbane Roar FC8431137+615
4Sydney FC834186+213
5Newcastle Jets833298+112
6Melbourne City FC83231815+311
7Wellington Phoenix83231213–111
8Central Coast Mariners8125916–75
9Perth Glory7115713–64
10Adelaide United8035717–103

Sunday, 29 November 2015
Central Coast Mariners
0 - 2
Western Sydney Wanderers FC
Saturday, 28 November 2015
Newcastle Jets
1 - 1
Brisbane Roar FC
Melbourne Victory
2 - 1
Adelaide United
Friday, 27 November 2015
Melbourne City FC
5 - 1
Perth Glory
Thursday, 26 November 2015
Sydney FC
0 - 0
Wellington Phoenix

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