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  • Writer's pictureCody Ojeda

Melbourne domination, Sydney resurgence? FPF predicts the 2022/23 A-League Men season

The world’s most extended professional off-season is over, and the new Isuzu Ute A-League Men campaign will kick off tonight. Melbourne City host Western United in a Grand Final rematch to open the 2022/23 campaign.

With high-profile signings, new young stars emerging, and a World Cup on the horizon to reignite interest in Australian football, the new A-League Men campaign is set to be a big one.

To celebrate the new season, the FPF team have given their predictions for the Grand Final winner, who makes the top six, the Golden Boot winner, and the Johny Warren medalist.

And to start with the big one, who will win the Grand Final, Melbourne Victory looks to be the hot pick.

Off the back of a solid season, Victory has made several promising signings, most notably former Manchester United winger and Portugal legend Luis Nani.

Melbourne Victory is one of the favourites for the A-League Men championship this season. (The AFC)

Other significant signings include Paul Izzo, Cadete, and Tomi Juric. Tony Popovic has made improvements to his starting XI and replaced the key departures of Marco Rojas and Jason Davidson. He is still aiming to win his first A-League Men Grand Final as a head coach. When looking at the strength of his squad, it’s easy to see why most would suggest this year could be when he does just that.

Western United and Melbourne City look set to be Victory's biggest challengers for the championship. The widespread consensus is that the three Melbourne teams will again take up the top positions on the table.

Western had a quiet off-season, with Aloisi seemingly opting for squad continuity over improvement, only bringing in replacements for departures elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Melbourne City hasn’t looked convincing throughout their preseason matches or Australia Cup campaign. They have failed to beat A-League Men opposition in friendlies, and there is a sense that Patrick Kisnorbo’s men have been “figured out”.

The quality in the squad, strengthened with the signings of Thomas Lam, Richard van der Venne, and Valon Berisha, suggests they can very well challenge at the top.

Melbourne City face an uphill battle for a third straight Premiers Plate. (FTBL)

According to the FPF team, the challengers for the championship outside of Melbourne are Macarthur FC and Adelaide United.

Macarthur will be buoyed by their Australia Cup triumph heading into the new season. Having Daniel Arzani, Ulises Davila, Daniel De Silva, and Al Hassan Toure on board will ensure they’re not short on creativity. Head coach Dwight Yorke has made a point to let them run free and dazzle fans, meaning they will undoubtedly be one of the league’s most entertaining teams.

Macarthur come into this season fresh off their Australia Cup triumph. (Yahoo Sport)

Meanwhile, Adelaide has an intimidating front three of Craig Goodwin, Hiroshi Ibusuki, and Ben Halloran. But it’s their defence that often goes understated. Kristian Popovic and Lachlan Barr formed a formidable partnership at the back end of last season. Meanwhile, Joe Gauci’s form saw him invited as a train-on player in a Socceroos camp in January. He was also given the no. 1 spot in the Olyroos Asian Cup campaign.

Many still don’t see this side as finals contenders, and even less as championship potential. But with a mix of Socceroos and young talent set for big seasons, they could very well surprise the masses.

When looking at the broader top six candidates, Sydney FC and the Western Sydney Wanderers are not touted to go all the way. But both clubs' off-season recruitment has pushed them right back into finals contention.

Wanderers have signed 16 players after a dismal season last time out. Experienced players such as Romain Amalfitano, Marcelo Guedes, Milos Ninkovic, and Oliver Bozanic have come in, and there is a much more positive mood around the club.

Meanwhile, Sydney has opted to focus on promoting youth after the departure of 13 players. Young stars such as Jaiden Kucharski, Adrian Segecic, Aaron Gurd, and Jake Girdwood-Reich look set to have an increased presence in the first team. Their performances at the NPL level suggest they are more than ready to make the step up.

The youth strategy is coupled with the high-profile signings of Robert Mak, Joe Lolley, and Jack Rodwell. They are also returning to Allianz Stadium, and there is an increased mood going into this season.

Slovakian international Robert Mak is one of many high-profile signings for Sydney FC this season. (The Australian)

Meanwhile, the Central Coast Mariners and Wellington Phoenix look set to be the dark horses for finals contention this season.

The Mariners lost several key players over the off-season, including goalkeeper Mark Birighitti, right-back Lewis Miller, and centre-back Kye Rowles. They’ve opted to sign relatively unknown visa players to strengthen the squad.

This tactic is always risky, but it certainly has the potential to pay off.

Meanwhile, Wellington has brought several exciting visa players in Bozhidar Kraev, Yan Sasse, and Oskar Zawada. They have replaced key departures in Reno Piscopo and Gary Hooper. It looks as though they have improved on last season.

These clubs look like they are flying under the radar as finals contenders. But considering the quality in both squads, they very much are.

The Mariners, in particular, have been in fine form in pre-season, winning all their games bar one and remaining undefeated against A-League Men opposition.

Star man Jason Cummings could majorly impact an individual accolade for the coming season.

Melbourne City forward Jamie Maclaren has won the last three Golden Boots in the A-League Men.

But following a season that saw his goal tally shrink from 25 to 15, there's a feeling someone else will finally beat him this season.

Many quality strikers have joined the league this season and last. But Cummings is the top pick amongst our writers to take out the award.

Since joining the Mariners, Jason Cummings has scored 10 goals for the club, represented the A-League All-Stars, made his Socceroos debut, and is a strong shout for the Golden Boot. (Football Scotland)

However, there’s no doubting Maclaren’s ability, and he will still be a front runner for the accolade.

Other names for the award are former Premier League striker Charlie Austin, Western United frontman Aleksandar Prijovic, and recently capped Socceroo Nick D’Agostino.

Austin joined Brisbane Roar in June following a poor attacking campaign from the club last season. With Riku Danzaki rejoining the club and Jay O’Shea staying put, he certainly won’t be short of service.

Nick D’Agostino will also benefit from the quality around him, as he’s supported by Ben Folami, Jake Brimmer, and most notably, Luis Nani.

Prijovic was a nightmare for defenders last season after taking some time to build up fitness. Should he hit the ground running early this season, he will push for the Golden Boot.

However, the most significant individual accolade on offer is the Johny Warren Medal, awarded to the best player throughout the season. And while no one player is a standout favourite, it seems as though the league's creative midfielders are the popular pick.

Bozhidar Kraev, Daniel Arzani, Ulises Davila, Florin Berenguer, and Luis Nani are the creative candidates for the award. Davila and Arzani are coming off the back of a stellar Australia Cup campaign, and carrying this form over to the A-League Men will do them plenty of favours.

Berenguer will again be a key player in Melbourne City’s midfield and could have a point to prove after missing out on the award last season.

Nani has a strong reputation following a career that saw him win four Premier League titles, a Champions League, and a European Championship. He has already impressed in pre-season, and fans are in for a treat should he reciprocate the hype around his signing.

Luis Nani has been the major marquee signing across the A-League Men for the upcoming season. (ESPN)

However, the outside pick for this award would be Western United centre-back, Leo Lacroix. The 6’6” Swiss giant is arguably the best defender in the competition. While a defender is usually unlikely to win the medal, Lacroix can upset the odds.

There is certainly a lot to be excited about this upcoming season. With so many teams set for exciting campaigns, this title race could be one of the most competitive in the league's short history.

You can catch all the action from the upcoming A-League Men season on Paramount+, with selected games also set to be shown live and free on 10Bold.

The FPF Team's Predictions:

Christian Marchetti:

Grand Final Winner: Melbourne Victory

Top 6:

  1. Melbourne Victory

  2. Western United

  3. Macarthur FC

  4. Sydney FC

  5. Melbourne City

  6. Adelaide United

Golden Boot: Jason Cummings

Johnny Warren Medalist: Ulises Davila

Ian Pulczynski:

Grand Final Winner: Macarthur FC

Top 6:

  1. Melbourne City

  2. Melbourne Victory

  3. Macarthur FC

  4. Western United

  5. Sydney FC

  6. Western Sydney Wanderers

Golden Boot: Jason Cummings

Johnny Warren Medalist: Bozhidar Kraev

Matt Olsen:

Grand Final Winner: Melbourne Victory

Top 6:

  1. Melbourne Victory

  2. Western United

  3. Melbourne City

  4. Macarthur FC

  5. Central Coast Mariners

  6. Wellington Phoenix

Golden Boot: Charlie Austin

Johnny Warren Medalist: Luis Nani

Antonis Pagonis:

Grand Final Winner: Adelaide United

Top 6:

  1. Melbourne Victory

  2. Western United

  3. Macarthur FC

  4. Adelaide United

  5. Melbourne City

  6. Sydney FC

Golden Boot: Aleksandar Prijovic

Johnny Warren Medalist: Daniel Arzani

Jeremy Magan:

Grand Final Winner: Western United

Top 6:

  1. Melbourne Victory

  2. Western United

  3. Melbourne City

  4. Western Sydney Wanderers

  5. Sydney FC

  6. Adelaide United

Golden Boot: Jamie Maclaren

Johnny Warren Medalist: Florin Berenguer

Cody Ojeda:

Grand Final Winner: Melbourne Victory

Top 6:

  1. Melbourne Victory

  2. Western United

  3. Melbourne City

  4. Western Sydney Wanderers

  5. Adelaide United

  6. Macarthur FC

Golden Boot: Nick D’Agostino

Johnny Warren Medalist: Leo Lacroix

To read Cody's full preview of the Western Sydney Wanderers 2022/23 season, click here.


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