The following are previews with betting tips for Round 20 of the 2017/18 A-League season.
Friday, February 9
Melbourne Victory v Brisbane Roar
7:50 PM AEDT, AAMI Park
What’s Happened Most Recently: Both sides saw some damage done to their finals hopes, however the two sides losses hit Brisbane a lot harder as they are now just outside of the Top Six, while the Victory sit just inside it. However they are 7 points clear of 7th. Melbourne suffered a 2-0 defeat to Newcastle despite having 56% of the ball, 15 shots vs their 8 and a better passing accuracy than their opponents. While the Victory also suffered a bit of bad-luck with one of their shots coming of the woodwork and Jack Duncan being in fine form to deny them several could-be goals. It was Melbourne’s first game without the departed Mark Milligan and if it’s anything to go of, the rest of the campaign could be a real struggle for them. While for the Roar, Maccarone scored one, but didn’t do much good later on, as he missed the penalty that if capitalized on, would have evened the scores up. As a result they went down 2-1 to Melbourne City. Brisbane created the chances and led the game 1-0. However they just weren’t good enough to hold on, with a rare Jamie Young error also playing an unfortunate part in the result.
What Should Happen: Melbourne have been very inconsistent lately, losing 2 of their past 4 matches. During this run, they’ve put 3 past the Wanderers and kept them to 0. However they were also kept to 0 by Newcastle despite the countless chances they had in this game. And now without their former skipper in Mark Milligan, things are looking even darker for the once proud side. However, Kevin Muscat is still their HC and Berisha their head striker. While Lawrence Thomas is still in goals and the likes of Troisi and Valeri still feature in the side. Now in a precarious position, the Victory are too good and too experienced to let the past couple of weeks impact them. Their time is now, to rebound after a couple of bad losses and display why they were last years Grand Finalists, they shouldn’t let the opportunity slip.
Betting tip: Pick the Victory to win at $1.83 (William Hill)
Saturday, February 10
Melbourne City v Sydney FC
7:50 PM AEDT, AAMI Park
What’s Happened Most Recently: Solid victories for both sides means that Melbourne are still in 3rd and Sydney are still dominating the league in 1st. Melbourne were down 1-0 to the Roar, however a glut of possession (57%), a missed Brisbane spot-kick and strikes to Budzinski only 5 minutes after Brisbane had scored theirs and Stefan Mauk, meant that the visitors came out as 2-1 winners. However of some concern for City from their win will be the fact that only 6 of their 19 shots ended up on target. This can be partially explained through the answer in that it was their first game post Ross McCormack’s return to Aston Villa. But if they continue to struggle to convert shots post his leaving, then it should be a real worry for one of the A-Leagues wealthiest sides. While for the Sky Blues, Alex Brosque turned back the clock with a vintage performance in his sides easy 4-0 win over Wellington. He scored one and also got an assist. While the other men to find the back of the net were Super Carney and Adrian. While of the field, they recently announced that Ben Warland and Fabio Ferreria would be joining the club. Both should prove to be astute signings, especially with the ACL season coming up.
What Should Happen: City look a better and more well-balanced side since the departure of Tim Cahill to Millwall. While they also won their first game since Ross McCormack returned to Aston Villa after his loan deal expired. While other players have stepped up in their absences inclduing potential Socceroos bolter, Dario Vidosic who has been a superb singing for Melbourne. However as good as Warren Joyce’s men have been and will continue to be against smaller sides, coming up against Sydney is an entirely different kettle of fish. They’ll need more than one or two major attacking options to step up against the Sky Blues and this is where McCormack’s departure will really be felt. City should really struggle in this game without one of the A-Leagues leading scorers.
Betting tip: Pick Sydney to be victorious at $2.15 (William Hill)
Also pick them to find the back of the net first at $1.75 (CrownBet)
Sunday, February 11
Western Sydney Wanderers v Wellington Phoenix
7:00 PM AEDT, ANZ Stadium
What’s Happened Most Recently: Current Lazio and Australian National squad member Chris Ikonomidis recently joined the Wanderers on loan for the rest of the season. He had a solid debut of the bench in Western Sydney’s most recent victory over the Mariners. He successfully completed 10 passes for a passing accuracy of 80% while he also won 9 out of his 14 duels. He is a Cronulla junior and also played for Atalanta during his youth career. With the Wanderers gearing up for the finals and with the more game-time he receives, he should be a very good player for the Red & Black. While for the Phoenix, their game was error strewn and they were never in it as they went down 4-0 to Sydney in what was a pretty ordinary performance from the NZ based side. They were down 2-0 inside the opening 15 minutes and it never got any better from there as they were completely played of the pitch. Compounding Wellington’s woes were that they only had 36% possession and they had only 2 shots go on target the entire match. As a result of this game, the Phoenix are still in dead-last place with barely any hope of a revive.
What Should Happen: A win at Sydney’s biggest and best sporting venue would see the Wanderers extend their lead of points in 6th position. However for this to happen, they have to be victorious first. Janjetovic at times can be inconsistent meaning it will be down to either or both of Riera and Santalab to drive their side forward to an all important win. Riera for the season has scored 8 which is on par with players such as O’Donovan and more than the likes of Keogh and Krishna. While the heart & soul of the Red and Black only has 2, but he also has 2 shot assists and 1 goal assist. If these guys are able to work their magic and raw power out on the field, then expect nothing less than a comfortable Wanderers victory.
Betting tip: Pick Western Sydney to win at $2.15 (Sportsbet)
Friday, February 16
Western Sydney Wanderers v Newcastle Jets
7:50 PM AEDT, Spotless Stadium
What’s Happened Most Recently: The Wanderers last time out posted a tense 2-1 victory over the Central Coast. They opened the scoring through Sotirio in the 14th minute, before a Ben Kennedy own-goal 16 minutes later saw them head into half-time with a comfortable 2-0 advantage, although it could have been 3 or 4 with the way they were playing. However new Mariners addition Peter Skapetis made for a nervous finish when he scored in the 76th minute of the match. The tight win meant that the Wanderers jumped back into a finals position and if they are good enough, they really shouldn’t lose it from here. The Red & Black were pretty accurate in front of goal as well, with them finding the back of the net twice from only the 3 shots they had on target for the entire match. While Newcastle are still chasing the Sky Blues hard in 2nd place after their commanding 2-0 victory over Melbourne. The Novocastrian’s opened their account through Nigel Boogard in the 31st minute, before they sealed the result with a first Jets goal to Riley McGree in the 70th minute. Interestingly in this game only 3 yellow cards were handed out and all of them went to Newcastle. While they got 2 in the 47th minute alone to both Kantarovski and Topor-Stanley.
What Should Happen: Defence, defence and some more defence. The Wanders will have no option but to defend, playing against a side that features the likes of O’Donovan, Nabbout and Rodriguez in attack and against one that has scored 6 goals from it’s past 6 games. While the Jets also have the 2nd best goal difference in the league at +19. This highlighting not only their incredible attacking capabilities, but also how stringy their defence really is. While Newcastle also kept the Victory to 0 goals in their last game, further adding to the Wanderers concerns for this match. While Western Sydney will unleash Riera on the Jets, who’s thumping header produced a goal last game, the Jets will have to lock him up with some strong D as well.
Betting tip: Pick the Jets to have the hotter start to the game and score first at $1.94 (CrownBet)
Saturday, February 17
Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory
5:35 PM AEDT, Westpac Stadium
What’s Happened Most Recently: With the transfer window just having closed, the Phoenix did a fair bit of work to their squad. This included the departure of Ali Abbas. The Iraqi and ex-Sydney FC man never quite made his mark over in New Zealand as he featured in only 8 of the Phoenix’s games while being on the score-sheet 0 times. This was probably the best option for both parties going foward with Abbas unlikely to break past the likes of Kaluderovic, Burns or Ljujic in the starting line-up. While it also allows him to find a team where he can be more of a featured option, like he was before his horrible injury occurred during his time in Sydney. However, Wellington needs some attacking threats of the bench and this is already looking like a poor choice on Wellington’s behalf given their most recent game without him was a 4-0 shellacking at the hands of Abbas’s former club in the Sky Blues. As for the Glory, they are in crisis mode right now just like Wellington after their 3-1 win over Western Sydney was followed by a disappointing 2-1 loss to Adelaide. Perth had the 1st goal of the match within 5 minutes after a 5th of the season to Andy Keogh, but from there it all went down-hill with an own-goal and a United goal leading the Glory to the loss. Perth had more of the ball than their opponents, but when it came to converting their shooting opportunities they were simply terrible. Only 3 of their 14 shots went on target. There’s a lot of work to do for Kenny Lowe’s men if they wish to win this match and keep their quickly fading finals hopes alive.
What Should Happen: A Wellington win. They might be in last place, but they are coming up against a Perth side that have been absolutely dreadful for a fair period of time. If it’s not Kenny Lowe’s head rumored to be on the chopping block, then it’s 99% of the time the garbage they are leaving out on the field. Or maybe it’s the leads, own-goals or cheap penalties they are giving away. Highlighted by all of this was their record 6-0 loss to Sydney during this poor period of time. Perth are long gone from their heyday of the NSL and now they are playing a Phoenix team that will be at it’s best. This considering they will want to rebound from their horror loss against Sydney and now that the finals are pretty much out of reach for them, they can play more freely.
Betting tip: Pick a shock Wellington upset win to occur at $2.25 (Bet365)
Also pick the Phoenix to score first at $1.81 (CrownBet)
Adelaide United v Central Coast Mariners
7:50 PM AEDT, Coopers Stadium
What’s Happened Most Recently: Marco Kurz’s men are back into the Top Four, while the Mariners may have to wait another season to feature in the finals. In some bad news from Adelaide in their otherwise positive 2-1 win over Perth, both Elsey and Gulum went of with injuries, this adding to an already greatly affected injury season for United. To make matters worse they were down 1-0 within the opening 5 minutes of the game, before a Djublic OG and a Mileusnic strike saw Adelaide claim all 3 points. In this match, Adelaide completed 69 long balls to their opponents 46. Coming up against a Mariners side that isn’t exactly potent defensively, this could be a rather easy way for them to break through. While as mentioned before, the Mariners finals hopes took a big hit in their 2-1 loss to Western Sydney in Gosford. Skapetis was the only goal-scorer for the Mariners and the game was mostly dominated by the visitors. However had it not been for a Ben Kennedy OG, then the result may have been a little bit different. The OG happened however as a result of an absolutely thumping Oriol Riera header. Paul Okon would be furious from this match at his sides blatant inability to take corners and that only one fourth of their shots ended up being close to the opponents goals.
What Should Happen: More disappointment from the Mariners. Yes they have a limited budget, yes Paul Okon has done a decent job with them considering the circumstances and yes they have improved under him. However, they are still an average side at best, while they struggle to score goals and have only 3 victories this campaign from 19 bl***y games. While, with no disrespect, when Blake Powell is one of your best players, you know somethings wrong, while the same applies to Andrew Hoole. The Central Coast’s season has been severely overrated by a lot of people. But every over-joyous fan and the Mariners themselves are about to receive a big reality check from a team that has a finals position safely secured.
Betting tip: Pick Adelaide to win comfortably at $1.91 (Sportsbet)
Best Bet of the Round
Choose WSW to beat Newcastle (6th to beat 2nd) at $2.85 (William Hill)