By Oliver Walker-Peel (@olliewalkerpeel)
A pulsating Round One of the A-League Men season is done and dusted.
After four and a half months following Western United’s success over Melbourne City in the Grand Final, the first clash between the two clubs since that evening lived up to the billing, with Jamie Maclaren (17 points) the top scorer in the clash.
On Saturday, it was a day for defenders at Suncorp Stadium as both the Roar and Macarthur drew a blank, while the Big Blue brought fireworks under the rain at the new Allianz Stadium, with Chris Ikonomidis (17) and ex-Sky Blue midfielder Josh Brillante (16) terrorising Sydney FC’s rearguard.
The following day, we saw the highest and lowest scores of the weekend, with Gabriel Cleur (18) helping the Wanderers to an opening weekend win, whereas Yan Sasse (-5) was given his marching orders as his Phoenix were pegged back in the dying embers of their game against Adelaide.
The highly anticipated F3 Derby between the Jets and Mariners fell victim to foul weather that swept across New South Wales over the weekend, with that game to be played at a later date.
From a Fantasy point of view, what is to be made of it all? Oliver Walker-Peel from the FPL Addicts Panel takes a look at two players who should be on your watchlist and two that could be on the chopping block.
Gabriel Cleur (WSW, DEF)
Price: $209,000; Points: 18, Next three: MVC (a), BRI (h), NEW (h)
A former Wanderers youngster, Sydney-born Cleur topped the A-League Men Fantasy charts on his debut in the league.
Capitalising on a goalmouth scramble, the former Alessandria loanee helped the ball on for Bosnian Sulejman Krpić, who scored the game’s decisive goal.
Operating on the right side of a Wanderers back four, Cleur showed his will to press forward, which bodes well from a Fantasy perspective.
The word of warning on Cleur is the fact he has only played one game so far in his senior A-League Men career; so wait for a larger sample size before making a move to him.
Chris Ikonomidis (MVC, FWD)
Price: $172,200; Points: 17; Next three: WSW (h), MCY (h), BRI (a)
Despite starting Saturday night’s Big Blue on the bench, the former Perth forward wasted no time making his mark on the match.
After setting up Josh Brillante to put the Victory in front for the first time on the night, Ikonomidis then took it upon himself to win the game for his club by tapping home into an empty net.
The former Lazio man only played 28 minutes at the weekend but showed all his class in that time, giving the Sky Blue defence nightmares in his relatively short stint on the pitch.
At a cheap price point, the only knock on Ikonomidis is his minutes; so if he can force his way into the starting lineup for the Victory, he may well be an option unable to be refused.
ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK
Stefan Colakovski (PER, MID)
Price: $165,300; Points: -2, Next three: NEW (a), CCM (a), ADL (a)
The North Macedonia youth international’s first league bout in Perth purple did not go to plan.
Aside from the result going against the Glory, the ex-Melbourne City midfielder gave away a penalty after fouling Ramy Najjarine, though it was later saved by Liam Reddy.
In spite of this, this cost Colakovski four points, more than cancelling out the single appearance point and the interception bonus that also earned him one point.
The midfielder clearly has talent but his lack of minutes is also a concern, so the 15% of managers that have him now have some thinking to do.
Léo Lacroix (WUN, DEF)
Price: $344,500; Points: -6; Next three: SYD (h), MAC (h), CCM (a)
One of the A-League Men’s best in his first season on Australian shores, it goes without saying the Swiss defender had a night to forget.
After being credited with the own goal that saw Melbourne City in front, his mistake led to Jamie Maclaren’s goal, the second concession leading to a further two-point deduction.
Lacroix has plenty of room for error following a brilliant campaign last season, but a poor performance has led to managers moving him on already.
Western United is renowned for its ability to defend, and Lacroix has been a centrepiece to that ideal, but the former Sion defender will have to return to his ways of old if he is to stay in the thinking of Fantasy managers.