CHEEKY WEEK 23 A-LEAGUE MULTI
Andy’s Bet: Newcastle to win, Sydney to win or draw and Perth v Central Coast under 2.5 goals @ 3.80 (TAB Sportsbet)
FRIDAY (MAR 9)
Newcastle Jets v Gold Coast United (AEDT 2000)
With three weeks of the regular season still to play, Newcastle are in a great position to claim one of the remaining finals places. This Friday night’s match against the Gold Coast represents a golden opportunity for the Jets to move 3 points closer to a spot in the playoffs. The visitors are a club in crisis, hurtling towards A-League extinction at the end of the campaign and Newcastle boss Gary van Egmond will be instructing his team to show no mercy to their wounded Gold Coast opponents. The Jets are virtually at full strength and possess an injury list the Gold Coast would be envious of given United’s treatment room is as active as Clive Palmer’s mouth. Newcastle have a pair of tough fixtures to end the season so the Jets will be keen to bank 3 points in this one, and with goal difference likely to be critical come season’s end I’ll be on them for a healthy victory margin.
Andy’s Bet: Newcastle to win @ 1.45 (TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Newcastle to win by 2 or more goals @ 2.20 (Sportsbet)
SATURDAY (MAR 10)
Melbourne Heart v Wellington Phoenix (AEDT 1730)
Assuming Newcastle do the business over the Gold Coast on Friday night, Melbourne will start this game as the team under the most pressure to hold on to a finals spot. Given they are 3 points and goal difference clear of 7th placed Sydney, the Heart are in no immediate danger of being displaced in the top 6, however a bad result here will mean that next week’s match with the Sky Blues will not be so cosy. Wellington are currently third on the table and enjoying their best season, although the Phoenix’s hopes of a spot in the top two and a finals double chance appear to be over as Brisbane are a win and significant goal difference clear of the Kiwi club. Only Kristian Sarkies remains sidelined for Melbourne, while Wellington will travel across the ditch without attacking midfielder Daniel. The Heart have more to lose, which can often affect the psychology, so I’m tipping the Phoenix to take advantage of their opponent’s nerves and battle to a draw.
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.40 (Centrebet, Sportsbet)
Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory (AEDT 1945)
It’s been a season to forget for the A-League’s two glamour clubs. The hype machines were in overdrive after the big pre-season signings of Brett Emerton and Harry Kewell, but talk of titles has long since evaporated during the summer heat and both teams are unlikely to even make the finals. Sydney (7th) are still some chance of making the finals and a win here will keep the destiny in their own hands, with the Sky Blues scheduled to close the season with matches against Melbourne Heart (5th) and Newcastle (6th). Melbourne have only pride to play for after being as ineffectual for new boss Jim Magilton as they were for Mehmet Durakovic. Does anybody know what Ernie Merrick is up to these days? Sydney gain a trio of first team regulars back from injury, with Mark Bridge, Seb Ryall and Shannon Cole all recalled, while Melbourne lose creative attacking weapon Carlos Hernandez to suspension. When these two teams clash there will always be fireworks, so definitely tune in for some rash challenges and general excitement. The Sky Blues have more to play for and that should spur them on to victory over their fierce rival.
Andy’s Bet: Sydney to win @ 2.15 (Multiple Sites)
SUNDAY (MAR 11)
Brisbane Roar v Adelaide United (AEDT 1700)
Which team you back to win this match will depend on which formbook you read. Punters going off A-League form will waste no time loading up on Brisbane to win at home given the Roar’s domestic dominance, while those who follow the Asian Champions League will have noted Adelaide’s impressive away win over Uzbekistan’s biggest club – Bunyodkor – on Tuesday and taken similar notice of Brisbane’s home defeat against FC Tokyo of Japan. Mitch Nicholls misses due to a groin injury and the influential midfielder will be a loss for Brisbane, however the Roar have been the dominant league side over the past month and have enough depth to adequately cover Nicholls. Adelaide’s league form has been horrible in 2012, with the Reds only winning one of their past ten matches and that victory only came against the hapless Gold Coast. Brisbane will be too good as they look to sew up second spot and a finals double chance.
Andy’s Bet: Brisbane to win @ 1.39 (Sportsbet)
Perth Glory v Central Coast Mariners (AEDT 1930)
We’ll have to wait until Sunday night for the match of the round, but with fourth placed Perth hosting ladder leaders Central Coast it should be worth it. The Mariners form has been sketchy recently and Graham Arnold’s men are earning plenty of frequent flyer points, venturing to the extreme west of Australia just days after an Asian Champions League match in China. Even though the Central Coast are out of form – just one win from their last six league matches – they are still difficult to break down as was displayed in their 0-0 draw in China. The last time Perth played at home they were hammered by Brisbane, so this match represents an ideal chance for the Glory to earn some respect against a top team. Perth will be very excited to recall their two best players for this match as both striking weapon Shane Smeltz and midfield heartbeat Liam Miller return from injury. I fancy Perth to nick a victory against the out of form Mariners, although I will put a saver on a low scoring match. For those with an eye to the future, Perth are still $10 for the league title on Sportsbet. Just something for you to think about…
Andy’s Bet: Perth to win @ 2.30 (Sportsbet, TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Under 2.5 goals @ 1.95 (TAB Sportsbet)