This weekend is the last round of home and away action for the A-League. The season has been a beauty and it is a shame it will end with a largely meaningless final round of fixtures.
Most spots in the top 6 are set. Brisbane will top the table and Central Coast are locked in for second. Adelaide are 3rd and will stay in that position unless Gold Coast produce a better result this weekend. Melbourne can only move from 5th if they have a big win and the Gold Coast have a big loss, while Wellington would need a monumental disaster not to secure the last finals position.
Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory (AEDT 2000)
This is probably the game of the weekend. These two teams hate each other and will both look to head into finals action on a winning note, so there is a lot still to play for. A win for Adelaide will secure 3rd spot and the potential to host 2 finals. This is crucial. The team in 4th place is likely to only get their first final at home. The incentive for Melbourne is to win and gain a psychological advantage for a potential re-match in the finals. Last time these sides met Kevin Muscat saw red and Adelaide hammered the Victory 4-1 in Melbourne. That result stung the Victory and the navy blues will be looking for revenge in this one. At the selection table, Reds defender Cassio misses with a thigh strain while young forward Matthew Leckie may come in. Leckie won’t play the full 90 minutes though as Reds boss Rini Coolen looks to ease him back to full fitness following a long stint out with injury. Robbie Kruse is back for Melbourne, and back scoring. The Socceroo returned and immediately found the net in the 2-0 win over Newcastle that secured their finals place. Key quartet Archie Thompson, Carlos Hernandez, Grant Brebner and Kevin Muscat are still missing through injury or suspension, so I expect Adelaide to be too strong at home.
Melbourne Heart v Sydney FC (AEDT 1900)
This match has got the feel-good factor swinging to Melbourne in a big way! In an ironic twist the A-League’s newest club will finish its inaugural season by farewelling retiring stars John Aloisi, Josip Skoko and outgoing Dutchman Gerald Sibon. The Heart and Sydney will finish in a similar league position this year, but Melbourne will be by far the happy as they are in their first year and Sydney are the defending champions. Sydney have left their run too late, and despite being unbeaten in 7, will miss the finals as defending champions. I think the sky blues players will now be thinking about end of season celebrations and Melbourne won’t be in a mood to let their stars or fans down. I’m also going to put a couple of cheeky dollars on Aloisi to score at anytime. I can guarantee that his teammates will be feeding him at every opportunity and if there is a penalty, he certainly won’t be giving the ball up.
Andy’s Bet: Melbourne to win @ 2.40 (TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: John Aloisi to score at anytime @ approx 2.30 (Centrebet – Odds not yet posted)
Brisbane Roar v Gold Coast United (AEDT 2105)
Like Friday night’s game, this another quality match-up between two finalists. I think that the result on Friday night will have an impact on how this match is played. If Adelaide drop points and the Gold Coast have a chance at 3rd spot, I think they are a chance to pull off the upset win. I doubt Adelaide will drop points though, so I think this will be a bit of a non-event with both sides looking to get through injury free. The more I think about this game, the more I think both teams will be happy with a draw. Brisbane would preserve their outrageous unbeaten streak and Gold Coast would avoid a psychological blow on the eve of the finals.
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.55 (Centrebet)
Wellington Phoenix v North Queensland Fury (AEDT 1500)
After Newcastle’s victory over Perth on Thursday night, the Phoenix still have to at least draw this match to guarantee a finals berth. That should be no trouble against North Queensland who, with a largely youth based squad, have lost their last 6 away matches, scoring only once and conceding 18 times during those fixtures. Wellington in a perfect contrast have won their last 5 at home, and have not conceded in their last 4 matches at the Westpac Stadium.
Andy’s Bet: Wellington to win by 2 or more goals @ 1.90 (Luxbet)
Central Coast Mariners v Newcastle Jets (AEDT 1700)
The Mariners are unbeaten in 8 outings and will look to this game for a nice tune up before a major semi final with Brisbane next weekend. Barring an amazing result from North Queensland in Wellington, Newcastle will have nothing to play for except pride. Central Coast have nearly a full list to choose from, while the Jets have been below full strength for a while now. At the time of writing the odds have not yet been released, but I would be punting on a Central Coast victory and a Central Coast win to nil.
Andy’s Bet: Central Coast to win @ approx 1.80 (Odds not yet fixed)