The following are previews with betting tips for Round 1 of the 2017/18 A-League season.
Friday, October 6
Melbourne City v Brisbane Roar
7:50 PM AEDT, AAMI Park
General Statistic: The last time these two teams met was back in Round 19 of last season at AAMI Park. That day Brisbane led 2-0 courtesy of a Jamie Maclaren double before Melbourne scored two goals in the space of four minutes to force a two-all draw.
Pre-game Lead-up : Both sides look shaky coming into the season opener for the 2017/18 season. For Melbourne they only just scraped past Hakoah Sydney City East 3-2 before being knocked out of the FFA Cup 2-0 to Sydney FC (a team who they beat in the final last season). This while Brisbane were made to look like children going down to the Victory 5-1 in their only FFA Cup game. This continues on from each club’s poor showings in the finals last season as Melbourne were knocked out at home by Perth and Brisbane could only just scrape past an inconsistent Wanderers side at home on penalties before they were beaten the week after.
What Should Happen: We should expect a high-scoring affair given both sides’ leaky defences. Last season Melbourne conceded 46 goals while Brisbane 55 (including the ACL). This while both sides boast credible-attacking threats in the likes of Tim Cahill (one goal every two games for Melbourne) and Massimo Maccarone (29 goals in his latest stint at Empoli) means that attacking will be the first priority in this game and that defence will be more of an afterthought.
What Shouldn’t Happen: A desired result for either team. For Melbourne they are looking to prove themselves as title contenders while Brisbane are looking to show that they are not a spent force given all the ageing players they have in their squad. Both sides would love nothing but a win to open their campaign, but instead they’ll have to settle for a hard-fought draw.
Our Tip: A 2-2 draw.
Betting tip: Pick the draw at $3.85 (Pinnacle).
Saturday, October 7
Central Coast Mariners v Newcastle Jets
5:35 PM AEDT, Central Coast Stadium
General Statistic: Combined over the past three seasons these two sides have posted only 30 wins. This is an average of only five each a year from 27 games. Both sides have made massive off-season changes and will be looking to put that on full display come F3 Derby Day.
Pre-game Lead-up: Paul Okon wants his side to be featuring in the finals this year while Newcastle CEO Lawrie McKinna has claimed that “the top six is minimal”. Both sides made changes at the end of the season that reflect that as well. For the Mariners they’ve bought in some Spanish and Dutch imports in the likes of Asdrúbal and Tom Hiariej. At Newcastle Ernie Merrick is the new head coach while A-League commodities such as Roy O’Donovan and Glenn Moss have been bought in to bolster the squad. Both sides have a point to prove this season and would love nothing more than an opening win over their rivals to help bring them one step closer in an attempt to return to their club’s former glory days.
What Should Happen: An entertaining clash. No matter where the clubs are on the ladder they always get up for Derby Day and put on a show for both sets of fans. This was evident last season as the Mariners came away with a strong 2-0 win while before that it was a closely contested one-all draw. If that’s not enough to get you pumped up then maybe Roy O’Donovan facing his former club will be. O’Donovan scored 19 goals in an impressive stint for the Central Coast and will no doubt have this fixture circled on his calendar.
What Shouldn’t Happen: Poor form continuing into this clash. Last season the Mariners lost eight games at home while the Jets only won two all season away from Newcastle. Putting two and two together this encounter should produce a well-worth watching draw.
Our Tip: A 1-1 draw.
Betting tip: Home ground advantage should see the Mariners strike first, bet on that at $1.85 (William Hill).
Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC
7:50 PM AEDT, Etihad Stadium
General Statistic: Milos Ninkovic converted the penalty that ended Victory’s hopes of an A-League title last season.
Pre-game Lead-up: Instead of closing the season on an awesome note, they now get to help to open this season with a highly-anticipated rematch of last year’s Grand Final. For Sydney they were the best club in the League by a country mile and beat Melbourne in all four encounters last season. While for Melbourne they were quite obviously the second best team in the A-League. Melbourne will be looking to extract some revenge over Sydney for last competition’s Grand Final defeat while Sydney will be looking to extend their dominance over Melbourne into a fifth straight clash. The positional battles in this encounter will also be crucial such as Berisha (21 goals last season) vs Bobo (15 goals last season). Look for a fiery game with neither team taking a step back.
What Should Happen: These sides have a long-lasting rivalry dating back to the early days of the A-League. Whenever they play each other it can be a physical grind and there can be some hard tackles, expect nothing less this game. They go all-out against their Big Blue opposition and while this produces a very good game to watch, expect a fair share of yellows to be handed out. The most likely candidates being hard-hitters in Besart Berisha and Matt Simon. Whichever side brings it more will likely end up winners.
What Shouldn’t Happen: A defence similar to last season for Sydney. Rhyan Grant has been replaced by Luke Wilshere while Danny Vukovic has been replaced by Andrew Redmayne. This means that Sydney will have to rely a little bit more on their strong attacking unit to compensate for their weakened defensive unit. Redmayne might concede but Sydney should still run out winners.
Our Tip: Sydney FC Win 3-2.
Betting tip: Both Berisha and Bobo always come through in the clutch. Bet on either player to score the last goal of the game at $6.00 and $7.00 respectively (William Hill).
Sunday, October 8
Wellington Phoenix v Adelaide United
3:00 PM AEDT, Westpac Stadium
General Statistic: Last season both of these clubs missed out on finishing in the top six. Wellington lost six games by one goal, had they converted all of those into draws they would have been in the finals. That number for Adelaide was eight.
Pre-game Lead-up: These two teams head into this clash in massively contrasting form. For Wellington despite bringing in some solid signings, their off-season has been very inconsistent headlined by being knocked out of the FFA Cup in Round One by WSW as well as losing a friendly match to a non A-League side. While for Adelaide they are only one win away form a shock FFA Cup Final appearance. When they started their quest for FFA Cup glory, Adelaide had a very small squad available but still knocked off the Jets 1-0. Since then they’ve gown massively in confidence and provided they can get past the Wanderers, they could easily be envisioned beating either Sydney FC or South Melbourne for the trophy…such is their absolute dominance heading into this match-up.
What Should Happen: An Adelaide victory. This is a given how previously mentioned both sides are faring so far. As well as this they have also been victorious against the Phoenix in three of their past five games, plus two draws. Finally Adelaide’s attacking options far overpower that of Wellington’s including the likes of Baba Diawara (67 goals for his career) and Nikola Mileusnic, someone who has strong A-League experience as well as having scored 16 goals in 25 games for Adelaide City in 2016. Adelaide shouldn’t have to go too hard to beat Wellington.
What Shouldn’t Happen: Wellington going scoreless. Last season combined with their FFA Cup campaign this year the Phoenix went scoreless in seven appearances. They also opened last season by not scoring in their opening three games. However Adelaide do have a few weaknesses in their defence meaning Wellington should be able to exploit them at least once.
Our Tip: Adelaide United Win 3-1.
Betting tip: Adelaide to win at $2.90 (William Hill).
Western Sydney Wanderers v Perth Glory
6:00 PM AEDT, Spotless Stadium
General Statistic: Back in Round 21 of last season both Chris Harold and Joel Chianese scored in a 2-0 win over the Wanderers. After that game heading into the finals, Western Sydney went on a six-match unbeaten streak.
Pre-game Lead-up: Western Sydney’s loss is Karabukspor’s gain. Veteran A-League head coach Tony Popovic very recently decided to pack up his bags and head to Turkey, with his staff rumoured to follow him. This has left the Wanderers in disarray and in need of a new coach only days out from their opening game against Perth Glory. Popovic has been with the Wanderers since their inception and during his tenure led them to claim an incredible ACL title (the first club in the A-League ever to do so). Will this crucial loss all but end the Red & Blacks campaign before it has even started or will it galvanise the squad and make it all the tougher to beat?
Oriol Riera. The former La Liga man has been unstoppable in the FFA Cup, scoring four goals from three games. Such is his goal-scoring prowess that for his career there has only been one team that he didn’t score for and that was Celta after he played only five games with them in 2010. Again highlighting his influence is the importance of these goals. In Round 1 it was in the final play of extra time to knock out Wellington 1-0. While in Round Two against Bentleigh it gave his side an uncatchable 2-0 lead. While against Blacktown it was 2-2 so both his goals there were very important in rescuing their cup campaign. Expect him to hit another in his first official A-League game.
What Should Happen: Late drama. These two clubs always seem to be involved in tight, tense affairs. Last season Western Sydney were knocked out of the finals on penalties while they advanced to the final four of this year’s FFA Cup by winning on penalties. And who can forget one of the most entertaining A-League games ever between Perth and Melbourne City last season? A game that ended as a 5-4 Perth win while in the space of the final 15 minutes of the game, five goals were scored. Expect it to be a down to the wire affair with not much room for error in the final stages of the game.
What Shouldn’t Happen: A happy Kenny Lowe. As a passionate footall fan I applaud his passion for the game and showing his emotions when his team scores or wins. But if Western Sydney open up their account for the season at home as they should do (despite Popovic’s depature), he might not be so jubilant.
Our Tip: Western Sydney win 2-1.
Best Bet of the Round: Central Coast vs. Newcastle – $2.60 on Roy O’Donovan to strike any time during the game against his former side. While for the opposition at $7.00, Wayne Brown is a smokey pick (William Hill).