The following are previews with betting tips for Round 19 of the 2016/17 A-League season.
Sydney FC v Wellington Phoenix
7:50 PM AEDT, Allianz Stadium
Sydney FC left-back Michael Zullo returns from suspension. Milos Dimitrijevic is in line for a recall alongside Josh Brillante.
Brandon O’Neill faces a mandatory one week on the sidelines after collecting his fifth caution, in the scoreless draw at Brisbane.
Wellington are without veteran striker Shane Smeltz after his sending off against Western Sydney. Smeltz scored the 91st goal of his A-League career, surpassing Archie Thompson in second place on the all-time scoring charts.
Hamish Watson makes a welcome return from injury but may be utilized off the bench. Michael McGlinchey is likely to be thrust into the Starting XI.
The Sky Blues took a big step towards going through the entire regular season undefeated, following a creditable scoreless draw in Brisbane. Roar keeper Michael Theo was in career best form to deny the league leaders but Sydney can take great satisfaction from their performance.
Wellington’s Top Six aspirations are hanging on a knife’s edge after a disappointing 3-1 home defeat to the Wanderers. Another season of disappointment beckons for the Nix as a run of 3 games without a win has seen them slide down to 8th. The visitors have won just once on their travels all season (2-0 against the Mariners). It is difficult to look passed a home win, even though Wellington have enjoyed recent success in this fixture.
Nick’s tip: Sydney FC -1ah @1.7 (Pinnacle)
Adelaide United v Perth Glory
7:50 PM AEDT, Coopers Stadium
Adelaide keeper and club captain, Eugene Galekovic, is set to be out for up to a month following a muscle tear in his shoulder. John Hall will deputize in his absence.
Key midfielder Isaias is suspended following his 8th booking in the 2-1 defeat to the Mariners. A trio of new signings were confirmed by the Reds in midweek but neither have been included in this week’s matchday squad.
Veteran keeper Liam Reddy returns for Perth after missing out on last week’s vital 3-2 win over the Jets, last week.
Aryn Williams is likely to continue at centre-back following a quadricep injury to Shane Lowry.
Adelaide’s defeat against second from bottom Central Coast all but confirmed their wooden spoon status for this season. The Reds now trail the Mariners by 5 points. Expect a young side to take to the field this weekend with Adelaide turning their focus to the Asian Champions League, which kicks off later this month.
Diego Castro was in sparkling form against the Jets as his brace set up a relatively comfortable win. Perth will be hoping for more of the same from the little Spaniard as we head towards the business end of the competition. A win here will thrust Perth into 4th place, if only temporarily, above Melbourne City.
Nick’s tip: Perth +0.25ah @1.94 (Pinnacle)
Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Victory
5:35 PM AEDT, Hunter Stadium
Jets midfielder Steven Ugarkovic returns from suspension in an attempt to reignite Newcastle’s finals hopes.
Finnish striker, Aleksandr Kokko, is also named in the provisional squad after playing no part in the 3-2 loss to Perth.
Melbourne Victory are boosted by the return of James Donachie from suspension. Donachie has been Muscat’s preferred choice at centre-back this season and is likely to line up alongside Spaniard Alan Baro.
Newcastle occupied 5th before the start of last week’s round. The Jets now find themselves outside looking in as they sit in 7th place. It will be interesting to see whether Newcastle persist with Daniel Mullen at right-back after he was tied up in knots by Diego Castro in Perth, last weekend.
Melbourne Victory will be buoyed by their lucky escape at Etihad Stadium, last Saturday evening. Staring defeat in the face with 85 minutes on the clock, Besart Berisha made up for his earlier penalty miss to tap in from a Marco Rojas cut back. Minutes later, Victory completed the comeback in controversial circumstances with City full back Manny Muscat turning into his own net, while Berisha stood in an offside position. The flag was raised but the goal stood.
Nick’s tip: Newcastle +0.75ah @1.81 (SBOBET)
Melbourne City v Brisbane Roar
7:50 PM AEDT, AAMI Park
Up to seven players from Melbourne City’s title-winning National Youth League side are vying for a start following a raft of suspensions and injuries to the senior squad.
Thomas Sorensen will make his first start since Matchday 1 against Wellington Phoenix, following the 9 game suspension handed out to Dean Bouzanis for his altercation with Besart Berisha.
Michael Theo, Brett Holman, Manuel Arana, and Jacob Pepper are all likely starters for Brisbane after been left behind for the midweek Asian Champions League qualifier in China.
Dimi Petratos has departed Brisbane for Korean K-League club, Ulsan Hyundai. Jack Hingert pulled up lame in the famous 2-0 win over super rich Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua while club captain Jade North is suspended.
In what was a tempestuous Melbourne Derby, headlined by the distasteful altercation between Bouzanis and Berisha, City were left counting the cost of a heart-breaking 2-1 defeat. Michael Valkanis will earn his corn this week as he looks to assemble a competitive side in the battle of 3rd Vs 4th.
Brisbane are hitting their straps at just the right time. With qualification into the ACL group stages assured, Roar must quickly turn their attention to matters closer to home. John Aloisi will have three days to prepare his side for a fixture that has proved difficult in the past. Brandon Borrello has been Roar’s main man recently with six goals and two assists in his last 5 outings, in all competitions.
Nick’s tip: Draw @3.5 (UniBet)
Western Sydney Wanderers v Central Coast Mariners
5:00 PM AEDT, Spotless Stadium
Mitch Nichols is back in contention for the hosts after missing the 3-1 win in New Zealand. Scott Neville will be reinstated at right-back following his return from suspension.
Central Coast midfielder Blake Powell returns from injury but will most certainly start on the bench on the back of the visitors’ impressive recent form.
The Wanderers will feel their season has finally got up and going after continuing their good form across the Tasman. Nico Martinez and new boy Terry Antonis were most impressive against the Nix with their quick feet and creative minds adding another dimension to Western Sydney’s play. This is a must win for the home side with the start of the ACL campaign only a fortnight away and the Sydney Derby sandwiched in between.
You need to go back almost 3 years since the Mariners won two league games on the bounce. The deserving 2-1 win over Adelaide kept Paul Okon’s men within touching distance of the Top Six, but they cannot rest on their laurels. This is like a Grand Final for the visitors as they trail 6th place Western Sydney by 5 points. Defeat here will be terminal.
Nick’s tip: Western Sydney -1.25ah @1.97 (SBOBET)