I hope you tuned in to the inaugural A-League ‘Super Wednesday’ during the week as all matches showcased everything that is good about the league. Competition administrators need to be congratulated for dedicating a whole day to the league and scheduling five successive matches in a feast for football fans. The English Premier League is the self-styled most exciting league in the world, but the A-League rivalled it on Super Wednesday, with 23 goals netted in the five games played across Australia and New Zealand.
Friday morning brought the announcement that Melbourne Victory had sacked coach Mehmet Durakovic, installing assisting coach Kevin Muscat as temporary manager. The move was not unexpected as the Victory have lost their last three matches, following on from a disappointing start to the season. Durakovic’s predecessor Ernie Merrick will be entitled to have a chuckle at his old club’s plight. Merrick was sacked at the end of last season despite guiding Melbourne to two premierships and regular finals appearances in his six seasons in charge.
CHEEKY WEEK 14 A-LEAGUE MULTI
Andy’s Bet: Melbourne Victory and Wellington to win and Gold Coast v Adelaide over 2.5 goals @ 6.20 (TAB Sportsbet)
SATURDAY ( JAN 7 )
Adelaide United v Brisbane Roar (AEDT 1730)
John Kosmina is Adelaide’s miracle man, arriving to coach the Reds after they had gone 5 games without winning, Kosmina has breathed new life into Adelaide’s season, guiding his team to a draw in Sydney before overseeing back to back victories during the past week. United’s away day success over the Melbourne Heart on Super Wednesday was particularly impressive as it proved they can beat an in-form opponent, and key men Sergio van Dijk and Dario Vidosic got on the scoresheet. With van Dijk and Vidosic in form Adelaide are capable of beating anyone, including this week’s opponent, defending champions Brisbane. The Roar scrapped to a 3-3 draw in a highly offensive game in Perth during the week, but will find less space in attack in this match. Brisbane coach Ange Postecoglou was scathing of his team’s efforts in Perth and it will be interesting to see how the players respond to such public criticism. Personally, I don’t see the point in publicly criticising your players in the media and think it would be much more effective to make those points behind closed doors. I reckon Adelaide will spring a surprise and will be on them to win as well as both teams to score.
Andy’s Bet: Adelaide to win @ 3.25 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Both teams to score @ 1.75 (TAB Sportsbet)
Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets (AEDT 1945)
The Victory endured a horror festive season, losing all three games they played over the Christmas and New Year period. Admittedly all three games were away from home and against each of the top three teams on the ladder, but Melbourne’s season will soon start slipping away unless their players dig in and start producing results. Coach Mehmet Durakovic has been the first casualty of a stuttering campaign, sacked on the Friday before this match. Former fan favourite Kevin Muscat takes temporary charge of the Navy Blues and can put things right as early as this Saturday. The Victory are 8th on the ladder with 15 points, two less than their 6th placed visitors, so, depending on the result of the afternoon’s earlier game in Adelaide, Melbourne could climb back into the top 6 with a win. Newcastle have lost 5 of their 6 away games, drawing the other, making a bet on the home side a must for this one. Archie Thompson has scored in his last 2 games at AAMI Park and is nice odds to find the net again on Saturday.
Andy’s Bet: Melbourne to win @ 1.75 (TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Archie Thompson to score anytime @ 2.85 (Centrebet)
SUNDAY ( JAN 8 )
Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory (AEDT 1500)
Wellington have been, well, predictably predictable during their past 8 matches, winning every time they have played in New Zealand and losing every time they have crossed the Tasman to play on Australian soil. That sequence included a 1-0 win over Perth in Wellington as recently as the 10th December. The Glory have won just 1 of their past 11 matches and that was a home win over the bottom of the ladder Gold Coast. Perth were slightly more impressive in a 3-3 draw with Brisbane on Super Wednesday, a brace of goals from Mile Sterjovski providing the purple men with a much-needed attacking threat. The Phoenix really should win, and win well.
Andy’s Bet: Wellington to win @ 1.80 (TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Wellington to win by 2 or more goals @ 3.05 (TAB Sportsbet)
Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners (AEDT 1600)
Sydney have slipped to fifth on the ladder, winning only once from their most recent five matches, and in-turn, failing to consolidate on a very good start to the season. Rediscovering that winning feeling this Sunday will be tough, with the in-form Central Coast making the short journey to the state capital. The top of the table Mariners are now 11 games unbeaten and have won each of their last five matches on their travels. Following the recent sackings of Adelaide coach Rini Coolen and Melbourne boss Mehmet Durakovic, Sydney’s Vitezslav Lavicka will be next manager to feel the heat. I’m backing the Central Coast to continue their amazing away form and Lavicka to be wriggling uncomfortably in his chair come full time.
Andy’s Bet: Central Coast to win @ 2.37 (Centrebet)
Gold Coast United v Melbourne Heart (AEDT 1830)
I’ll be very excited to tune into this Sunday twilight match as my favourite A-League player will resume his place after missing the Super Wednesday action. The ‘Godfather of Goals’, James Brown, the young Olyroo, should be back in the United starting line-up, giving the Gold Coast more attacking threat. His inclusion is necessary as the Melbourne Heart are coming to the glitter strip, hoping to put their midweek defeat to Adelaide behind them and consolidate a spot in the top 3. The Heart won this contest in November and are playing better now that they were back then, so I’m tipping them to edge a high scoring encounter.
Andy’s Bet: Melbourne Heart to win @ 2.80 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Over 3.5 goals @ 3.15 (TAB Sportsbet)