Can these four players take Newcastle to the finals?

Newcastle Jets got off the the best possible start to a new season thrashing rivals Central Coast Mariners 5-1 away from home. It’s hard to believe that the Jets didn’t score in their final five matches of last season. While it’s a bit early to call, the Jets have started exactly the way needed to if they are to make the finals for the first time since 2009-10. If they do, it will be on the back of the likes of Dimitri Petratos, Andrew Nabbout, Venezuelan Ronny Vargas, and hat-trick hero Roy O’Donovan. The Jets have never won two matches to start the season but let’s look at what Perth’s defenceΒ will be facing this week.

Ronald Vargas
The first Venezuelan to play in the A-League arrived late to Newcastle but still impressed Ernie Merrick enough to start in the F3 Derby. While he’s going to improve as time moves on the attacking midfielder still provided a solid performance against the Mariners, touching the ball 18 times, completing 81.8 per cent of his 11 passes, duelling for the ball eight times and firing two shots at Thomas Glover’s goal. The 30-year-only was replaced by Wayne Brown after 61 minutes last week but expect to play longer and cause more damage this week and the rest of this season.

Dimitri Petratos
He had to go to Seoul, South Korea to get from Brisbane to Newcastle but he finally arrived and didn’t take long to show why he was in such high demand in the first place. The older Petratos had 47 touches, made 25 passes, five crosses, created two chances, won three fouls, two tackles, and scored from his only shot, and what a goal it was! The former Sydney and Brisbane attacker was afforded too much time on the ball by the Mariners’ defence and he made them pay cash. Expect Perth’s defence to shut him down quickly to avoid a similar fate.

Stat attack

  • At the time of kick off it would’ve been 2171 days since Newcastle defeated Perth at home (2-0 win in November 2011)
  • Andy Keogh has scored four goals in nine matches against the Jets, winning seven of those games
  • Chris Harold’s three goals at McDonald Jones Stadium is the most he has scored at a venue other than nib Stadium
  • Roy O’Donovan has scored five goals in five matches against Perth
  • Nikolai Topor-Stanley played 37 matches for Perth between 2007-09 and has won 10 of 21 matches against his former club

Andrew Nabbout
Jets fans already knew how good Andrew Nabbout was given his exploits last season and while he didn’t get the same amount of attention his new teammates on the frontline got he caused just as much damage. From Nabbout’s 26 touches he made 14 passes, won seven duels, won two fouls, created three chances, and assisted two of the five goals. The Melbourne-born winger’s form faded away after a hot start to last season, he can’t afford to do that in 2017-18 but with the players around him that shouldn’t be a problem.

Roy O’Donovan
Who else was it going to be? Roy O’Donovan, hated by Novocastrians for the past two seasons quickly became their favourite player netting a hat-trick against his former club. The Irishman’s fire and lethalness in front of goal makes him one of the best strikers in the league. Just like Nabbout, the former Mariner only had 26 touches but made all of them count. He made 16 passes, won four duels, three fouls including a penalty which he converted, scored three goals from three shots, created two chances and provided an assist. Goals win games and his goals will be important as Newcastle try to end their seven-year finals drought.

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