The A-League season exploded into life last weekend when Brisbane scored twice in stoppage time to sensationally come from behind to beat Sydney 2-1. That was only the start of the action though, as the Roar’s striker and winning goalscorer Besart Berisha took his shirt off and gestured to Sydney defender Pascal Bosschaart that they settle their differences away from the playing field, prompting players from both sides to engage in a ugly scrimmage of pushing and shoving. Berisha has rightly been suspended for Brisbane’s match against the Melbourne Heart this weekend and hopefully the focus can return to the on field action, which has been splendid this season.
Each game of the weekend is previewed below. Read on to find out which club has conceded the opening goal in each of their last nine matches.
CHEEKY WEEK 16 A-LEAGUE MULTI
Andy’s Bet: Newcastle and Central Coast to win @ 3.90 (Sportsbet, TAB Sportsbet)
FRIDAY (JAN 20)
Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix (AEDT 2000)
The Jets will be thankful they get to play the Phoenix in Newcastle this time, rather than Wellington where the clubs have clashed twice already this season. The Phoenix comfortably won those encounters, 2-0 the first time and 5-2 most recently. Wellington have travelled very poorly this season, but were finally able to break through for their first win on Australian soil last weekend, with a late Tim Brown goal securing a 1-0 win on the Gold Coast. The latest update on Newcastle’s out of favour midfielder Kasey Wehrman is that he has now been told he is no longer required. The Jets fought on strongly in Wehrman’s absence last week, grinding out a 1-1 draw at ladder leader Central Coast. Lightning surely can’t strike twice for the Phoenix, and a second away win in succession is almost unprecedented for the Kiwi club. Newcastle were good enough against the Mariners to earn a point, if they play as well again this week they’ll get three. Ryan Griffiths is easily the Jets most dangerous striking weapon and is exceptional value in the ‘first to score for their team’ market.
Andy’s Bet: Newcastle to win @ 2.25 (Sportsbet, TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Ryan Griffiths first Newcastle goalscorer @ 4.00 (Sportsbet)
SATURDAY (JAN 21)
Central Coast Mariners v Adelaide United (AEDT 1730)
The league’s two in-form teams meet in the early kickoff on Saturday evening. Central Coast boast an impressive 14 match unbeaten streak, while Adelaide haven’t yet tasted defeat in the five games under new boss John Kosmina. Strangely, something doesn’t have to give here. A draw would ensure both clubs unbeaten records remain intact, however the Mariners odds of $1.80 jumped off the page at me when I was researching the odds. Yes, Adelaide have been on a good little run, but they are third last on the table visiting a club team three games clear on top. To give this some perspective, the Manchester clubs are usually $1.40 or less in home matches against teams in the bottom half of the ‘greed is good’ league (aka the English Premier League). This match will provide a good measurement of how much United have improved under Kosmina, with a recent 4-0 defeat to the Mariners one of former Reds boss Rini Coolen’s final games in charge. Have Adelaide improved enough to take a point or three home from the Central Coast? I think not.
Andy’s Bet: Central Coast to win @ 1.80 (Centrebet, Sportingbet)
Andy’s Bet: Central Coast to win to nil @ 3.20 (Centrebet)
Melbourne Heart v Brisbane Roar (AEDT 1945)
Melbourne have gone from being the form side of the competition three weeks ago to the club that is most out of sorts. The Heart have lost three in a row, including two on their home AAMI Park surface. Brisbane are just gathering their own momentum, knocking off Sydney last weekend to climb back into second spot on the ladder. In that match Thomas Broich and Henrique both made their long-awaited returns from injury via cameo appearances off the subs bench. Both players are massive inclusions and will be looking to regain full form and fitness in the run-in to the finals series. The Roar came from behind against Sydney last week and it seemed to me like they’ve been having to grind a lot lately, so I checked their recent stats and, amazingly, found Brisbane have conceded the opening goal in each of their previous nine matches! That would be quite frustrating for the players and makes it difficult to win games of football with any regularity. I’m tipping a draw here, and plenty of goals for the neutrals!
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.45 (Centrebet)
Andy’s Bet: Over 2.5 goals @ 1.77 (TAB Sportsbet)
SUNDAY (JAN 22)
Sydney FC v Gold Coast United (AEDT 1700)
Sydney are descending the A-League ladder faster than Cadel Evans snaked down the mountains during alpine stages of last year’s Tour de France. The Sky Blues have fallen to sixth and will potentially start this match outside the playoff spots for the first time since Week 2. Luckily for the Sky Blues they welcome bottom side Gold Coast to the Sydney Football Stadium this Sunday. Nothing other than a win for Sydney will do, with coach Vitezslav Lavicka’s job future possibly depending on a good result. Sydney will field a full strength line-up, while the Gold Coast will be without injured striker Dylan Macallister, who will miss the next 6 weeks with a hamstring strain. Sydney simply have to win and I believe they will win.
Andy’s Bet: Sydney to win @ 2.00 (Sportsbet)
Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory (AEDT 1930)
Perth currently have an abundance of spirit and confidence in their playing squad, as was in evidence in the Glory’s draw in Sydney during midweek action, with the away side fighting to the death to conjure a late leveller. This recent upswing in form has seen Perth climb back into the top six, the league’s most western club will actually start this weekend in fifth spot. Melbourne played with more fluency last week during new coach Jim Magilton’s first game in charge. Ultimately though, it was the same old story for the Victory fans, as their team was held to a home draw. Interestingly, Magilton employed Harry Kewell down the left flank, with the superstar producing arguably his finest display in a navy blue shirt, whipping a countless number of dangerous balls into the box. If Perth can stifle Kewell’s creativity they will have gone a long way to winning this match. The odds on a home win are too much for me to pass up, especially given Melbourne have lost their last four away matches.
Andy’s Bet: Perth to win @ 2.55 (Centrebet)