Putting Brisbane Roar to one side, this A-League season is amazingly even and just three points separate second to eighth after seven rounds. Wellington and Gold Coast are the two bottom ranked sides needing to getting good results or risk being the first carriages uncoupled from the long, snaking finals train. For the second time already this season a huge weekend looms for both the Melbourne Victory manager and the author of this column. Victory boss Mehmet Durakovic’s team has finished on the right side of the ledger just once this season, exactly the same as this column’s suggested bets and, ironically, those positive results occurred on the same weekend!
SEASON BETTING TALLY
Wagered = $700 – $10 per suggested bet
Collected = $393.20
Profit/Loss = – $306.80
% Profit/Loss = -43.8%
CHEEKY ROUND 8 A-LEAGUE MULTI
Andy’s Bet: Central Coast, Brisbane and Melbourne Victory all to win @ 5.10 (Sportingbet)
Adelaide United v Newcastle Jets (AEDT 2000)
Rini Coolen’s United have recovered nicely to be three games unbeaten since suffering a dreadful pummelling against Brisbane in late October. Further good news arrives this week in the form of an impending home match against Newcastle. The Reds’ November resurgence should continue as their visitors have lost all three away games this campaign and each defeat has been by at least two goals. The big news in the lead up to this game has been the shock retirement of Adelaide’s Andy Slory. The 29 year-old Dutch winger reportedly fell out with the club two weeks ago, prompting his omission from the team last week and culminating in his retirement this week. I don’t think Slory will be a major loss for the Reds as Iain Ramsey will be given a greater chance to impress with his pace. The bigger concern is the continued absence of striker Sergio van Dijk and last week’s potentially serious foot injury to defender Cassio. Meanwhile, Newcastle striker Michael Bridges has made the Jets 18 man squad and is likely to feature at some point in Friday night’s match. I expect a cautious approach from a Newcastle side wary of their own frail away form and the Jets will look to keep it tight as they feel their way in the early stages. A more ruthless team than Adelaide would put them to the sword, but even so, the Reds should still do enough to win.
Andy’s Bet: Adelaide to win @ 2.27 (Centrebet)
Andy’s Bet: Under 2.5 goals @ 1.85 (Centrebet)
Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne Heart (AEDT 1730)
The Mariners have been the best performed team in the league across the last four weeks, picking up ten points in that time to rocket from the bottom of the ladder to second from top. Melbourne Heart haven’t been doing too badly themselves, currently on a five match unbeaten run. Further to that stat, the Heart have not been behind in a match since the final whistle of their 2-1 loss to Perth Glory way back in Week 2. Melbourne coach Jon van ‘t Schip is doing a sterling job to get good performances from his team, with the Dutchmen only picking from a small squad due to injuries and players away on Olyroos duty. Central Coast kept a clean sheet in their last home match against the Melbourne Victory, proving they’ve got the defensive strength to complete another shut-out this weekend. Mariners captain and central defender Andy Wilkinson becomes the second player to reach 150 A-League games, and the first to do so at one club. Wilkinson is the heart of the Central Coast and his team-mates will be desperate to give him a win, against the Heart, in his milestone match.
Andy’s Bet: Central Coast to win @ 1.78 (Sportingbet)
Andy’s Bet: Central Coast to win to nil @ 2.65 (Centrebet)
Brisbane Roar v Perth Glory (AEDT 1945)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, just quite how a team on a massive unbeaten run can be at odds of $1.60 to win at home is staggering. In any of Europe’s major leagues, the top clubs are generally $1.30 or below when they play at home against mid-table opposition. While Brisbane keep dominating and the bookies keep offering odds greater than $1.50, I’m going to keep taking the odds! Perth really got me angry last week. I’d been closely following Ian Ferguson’s purple-shirted men after their purple-patch to start the season. They then lost three on the trot, so last week I went against and had a few bets on Melbourne Victory to beat them and beat them to nil. With twenty minutes to go I was feeling pretty good as the Victory held a 2-0 lead over a 10-man Glory team. Inevitably, Perth, who had not scored in over 300 minutes of play, netted twice to earn a 2-2 draw. Lightning can’t strike twice can it? I don’t think so and am pretty confident the Roar will turn on the style for their home fans.
Andy’s Bet: Brisbane to win @ 1.60 (Sportingbet)
Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC (AEDT 1430)
Brisbane have earned the nickname ‘Roarcalona’ due to their aesthetically pleasing passing game and now I’m going to coin Sydney FC the ‘Latecomers’ in reference to their remarkable ability to score goals only in the final half hour. In seven matches this season the Sky Blues have netted nine goals, with a whopping eight of those nine goals coming in the 60th minute or later. It gives the fans hope when the game is not going well, but coach Vitezslav Lavicka must be frustrated at his team’s inability to score early in matches. Wellington snatched a late draw at home last weekend thanks to a tidy cross from the returning Paul Ifill. Wellington boss Ricki Herbert will be hoping his star man has pulled up well and is right to start this one. I’m going a bit mental with my bets for this match, adding a 2-2 correct score bet. Let’s see what time the ‘Latecomers’ arrive on Sunday afternoon.
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.35 (TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Correct Score 2-2 @ 15.00 (Centrebet)
Melbourne Victory v Gold Coast United (AEDT 1700)
Mehmet Durakovic is the Melbourne Victory coach. Or at least I think he is. Isn’t he? I’m pretty sure that’s his job title, but a week of intense media scrutiny at AAMI Park has confused everything. Francis Awaritefe left his post as the club’s football director in mysterious circumstances after less than six months in the role. Meanwhile, assistant coach Kevin Muscat has been the most vocal man on the bench in recent weeks, barking more instructions to the players than Durakovic, while the club’s star player, Harry Kewell, seemingly dissatisfied with direction from the top, has gone and hired a personal coach to hone his skills. It is a very interesting story, which is probably why the media have blown it out of proportion. Durakovic hasn’t shown he has the managerial ability to combine the individual brilliance of his players into a cohesive team, but the season is only seven weeks old. He deserves another month to sort things out and the thing he needs more than anything else right now is for his players to accept some responsibility for the poor start to the season too. It’s never all down to the manager. Gold Coast started the season quite brightly, but have been awful in recent weeks, particularly last Friday night against the Melbourne Heart. United are a young, developing squad and are missing players like James Brown, away with the Olyroos squad, and the injured Joel Porter, so things are going to be tough for the next little while. The Victory have played their best football when they have had their backs to the wall – refer to a 2-1 win in Wellington and a 2-2 draw with nine men against Brisbane – and the Navy Blues will be in the mood to prove a few points this Sunday, and maybe even collect three of them.
Andy’s Bet: Melbourne to win @ 1.87 (Centrebet)
Andy’s Bet: Melbourne to win by 2 or more goals @ 3.50 (Sportsbet)