There are only 4 more weeks left in the A-League regular season. That means the fight for the 6 finals places is really heating up. Brisbane Roar have led all season and all but secured top place. Central Coast, Adelaide and Gold Coast all have realistic claims for 2nd place with Central Coast currently occupying the position. The Melbourne Victory are 5th on 33 points from 25 games played, just ahead of city rival Melbourne Heart in 6th on 32 points, but the Heart have played 26 matches. Newcastle are poised 1 point outside the finals places and with 2 games in hand on the Heart. Wellington are 8th, on 29 points from 24 games and can still make the playoffs with a good end to the season. Sydney, Perth and North Queensland are dreaming if they think they will be playing finals footy.
Adelaide United v North Queensland Fury (AEDT 2000)
Adelaide had the bye last week, so the reds have had 12 days to prepare for this one since their 4-1 triumph against Melbourne Victory. Their opponents, North Queensland, haven’t had any rest and this will be the Fury’s 12th fixture since the beginning of December. Adelaide defender Iain Fyfe has accepted a deal to transfer to for South Korean club Busan I’Park and will move at the end of the month. It will be interesting to see if Adelaide coach Rini Coolen will continue to pick Fyfe until he departs. Fury coach Franz Straka has been publicly criticising his senior players for thinking about leaving the bottom club and last weekend selected a squad packed with youth. The inexperienced team got smacked 4-0 and I can’t see how the Fury will bounce back in such low morale. Adelaide have only been beaten at home twice all season and expect them to give their red army more to cheer about in this one.
Andy’s Bet: Adelaide to win by 2 or more goals @ 2.10 (TAB Sportsbet)
Melbourne Victory v Melbourne Heart (AEDT 1900)
Saturday night is derby night in Melbourne and this is a real biggie! A win for either side would be a big boost for their finals chances, while a loss would be a massive blow for desires of playoff action. Victory have been hit hard by unavailabilities recently as key quartet Archie Thompson, Robbie Kruse, Kevin Muscat and Adrian Leijer have all spent significant time on the sidelines. Thompson and Leijer are strong chances to return for the derby and that might swing things in favour of the navy blues. Melbourne Heart have been going about their business very nicely, following up a 1-1 draw in Perth with another 1-1 against the Gold Coast in Melbourne midweek. If you haven’t seen Alex Terra’s amazing equaliser in the match in Perth look it up on youtube. Melbourne Victory’s big game experience just gives them the edge.
Andy’s Bet: Melbourne Victory to win @ 2.17 (Centrebet)
Andy’s Bet: Melbourne Victory to win by 2 or more goals @ 4.50 (Centrebet)
Gold Coast United v Newcastle Jets (AEDT 2115)
Gold Coast head home to Skilled Park with 1 point gained during their midweek visit to Melbourne. They play a Newcastle side that will be fighting for everything to try and sneak back into the top 6. United have a good home record and the Jets will have to improve on last weekend, but their injury list is massive and coach Branko Culina has bemoaned the absence of his key players. Look for new Gold Coast recruit Peter Perchtold to improve from his poor debut against Melbourne Heart midweek. 26 year old Perchtold has had stints with high profile German clubs Stuttgart and Nurnberg, so should have plenty of class to impact the latter part of this A-League season.
Andy’s Bet: Gold Coast to win @ 1.67 (Sportsbet)
Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory (AEDT 1500)
Perth Glory lost 2-1 to Central Coast midweek and last season’s club champion, Andy Todd, has been released from his contract. It is a sad state of affairs for a club many expected to push for finals action this campaign. Wellington’s star player Paul Ifill is still sidelined, but the Phoenix should be aiming to boost their goal difference here. They should stick 3 or 4 past Perth.
Andy’s Bet: Wellington to win @ 1.75 (Sportsbet, TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Wellington to win by 2 or more goals @ 2.90 (Centrebet, TAB Sportsbet)
Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC (AEDT 1700)
Central Coast are red hot at the moment and despite a packed recent schedule, will go looking for a 4th win in 5 games during the last 15 days. Their opponent on Sunday is Sydney and the sky blues have a good little patch going themselves, taking 7 points from the last 9 available. Sydney were very poor last weekend against Melbourne though and I think the Mariners have too much firepower and desire.
Andy’s Bet: Central Coast to win @ 1.90 (Various sites)