CHEEKY WEEK 19 A-LEAGUE MULTI
Andy’s Bet: Central Coast to win or draw, Newcastle to win and Perth to win or draw @ 5.25 (TAB Sportsbet)
FRIDAY (FEB 10)
Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners (AEDT 2000)
A daytime tv soap puts it, ‘Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.’ And so, indeed, is Melbourne Victory’s 2011-12 A-League season. Watching a Victory game is really not that dissimilar to sitting through an episode of Days of Our Lives. The brooding stares from those in navy blue shirts after another equalising goal is conceded rival the best work from an actor pondering the latest family feud. In all seriousness though, this is a must win game for Melbourne if they are to keep in touch with the top 6 ahead of their road trip to Brisbane next weekend. Central Coast were surprisingly beaten by Brisbane last weekend, ending a 14 game unbeaten run for the Mariners. That result confirmed the Roar’s recent dominance of Graham Arnold’s men, but the Central Coast have the edge on pretty much every other team in the completion. Melbourne have included Spanish defender Ubay Luzardo in the squad and Victory boss Jim Magilton will have to shuffle his pack to cope with the loss of Grant Brebner through suspension, with Mark Milligan likely to push up to the midfield and Luzardo into central defence. Despite a defeat last week I expect the Mariners to keep steady with the team that has served them so well this campaign. The Victory have a knack for conceding poor goals, so I’m on the Mariners to extend their gap at the top of the ladder.
Andy’s Bet: Central Coast to win @ 2.50 (Multiple Sites)
SATURDAY (FEB 11)
Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Heart (AEDT 1730)
Hands up all those who thought Newcastle’s season was over when the Jets won just once across a nine game stretch during December and January. I’ll raise my hand! Things were even worse off field, with coach Gary van Egmond dropping Kasey Wehrman from the squad due to some negative off field comments made by the influential midfielder. Van Egmond now looks like a genius though, as form and confidence have returned to the Jets squad, even if Wehrman hasn’t. Two wins on the trot have lifted Newcastle into the top 6 and now there is a chance to leapfrog this week’s opponent into the top 5. Melbourne Heart are the visitors to Ausgrid Stadium, and there has never been a better time to play the red and whites given the Heart have not won any of their 7 matches played in 2012. Captain and midfield playmaker Fred returns to the Heart squad this week, however, even his return is not enough to sway me from backing a Newcastle triumph.
Andy’s Bet: Newcastle to win @ 2.25 (TAB Sportsbet)
Sydney FC v Perth Glory (AEDT 1945)
As the season rounds the final bend and clubs charge towards the finals, Perth, from nowhere, have emerged with the best sprint finish. The Glory have been crazy-good recently, winning their last five matches and remaining unbeaten in 2012, which has seen them shoot from second last on the ladder to fourth in those five weeks. The manner of the victories has been frighteningly ominous for the rest of the competition, with Perth scoring 13 goals in their last 3 matches, while conceding only one. Meanwhile, Sydney have been Perth’s antithesis, the Sky Blues picking up just 5 points from their last 8 matches, including 3 home defeats. Marquee man Brett Emerton should boost Sydney with his return, however the Sky Blues will be without skipper Terry McFlynn due to suspension and striker Mark Bridge will miss with an ankle injury. McFlynn’s absence is compounded by the continued unavailability of fellow central midfielder Terry Antonis who is away with the U23 national team. I expect the Perth to overpower Sydney in the middle of the park and the Glory’s central midfielder Liam Miller will be the star man. 30 year old Miller is an ex-Irish international and a class above most in this league. Perth are good enough to win this, however conservative punters may prefer to take the win-draw double chance or draw-no-bet options.
Andy’s Bet: Perth to win @ 3.20 (Sportingbet)
SUNDAY (FEB 12)
Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar (AEDT 1500)
Sunday’s double header kicks off with this intriguing match from Westpac Stadium between the teams which are second and third on the ladder. Wellington have won their past four matches, including three in Australia, to surge to second spot, a place ahead of their visitors. The Phoenix will be full of confidence and I expect this to play into the Roar’s hands as Brisbane will likely be given more space to attack into as Wellington press forward. Thomas Broich is back up to speed after his lengthy layoff during the middle of the season due to injury. Brisbane’s Besart Berisha is the league’s top scorer this season and is enjoying having Broich back to play alongside. Berisha has scored three times in the four games since Broich has returned, but did not score at all during the eight weeks prior, which coincided with Broich’s absence. I’m tipping an upset and going for a rare away victory in Wellington.
Andy’s Bet: Brisbane to win @ 2.70 (Centrebet)
Gold Coast United v Adelaide United (AEDT 1730)
The round concludes with this less than tasty encounter between the bottom two teams on the ladder. The viewers who tune in at 5:30pm this Sunday afternoon, and who have forgotten which teams are playing, will be in for a nasty surprise. It will be similar to opening the pantry on a Monday morning before work and finding nothing but mouldy bread. Yep, these two teams went stale long ago and football purists will find this match difficult to stomach. On the basis of the season so far, Adelaide are slightly less worse than the Gold Coast, and the Reds still have a mathematical chance of making the finals. The Gold Coast were thumped by Perth last week and are running out of fit players with striker Maceo Rigters the latest casualty. Rigters has been included in the squad for this weekend’s match even though he looked a long way off the pace against Perth. Adelaide actually have a team that looks like it should score plenty of goals, comprising the attacking threats of Dario Vidosic, Sergio van Dijk and Bruce Djite. For those looking to chase losses from earlier in the weekend, you could do worse than back the Reds to win by 2 or more goals.
Andy’s Bet: Adelaide to win @ 3.25 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Adelaide to win by 2 or more goals @ 8.00 (TAB Sportsbet)