The following are previews and betting tips for week 25 of the A-League.
CHEEKY WEEK 25 A-LEAGUE MULTI
Perth to win @ 2.15
Sydney to win or draw @ 1.33
Brisbane to win @ 1.85
Combined odds @ 5.30 (Centrebet)
FRIDAY (MAR 23)
Adelaide United v Melbourne Heart (AEDT 2000)
The season is cooking along nicely for both these clubs despite the fact they are dining at separate restaurants. Melbourne held Sydney to a draw last week, which was enough for the Heart to qualify for the finals series beginning next weekend. The playoffs were off Adelaide’s menu long ago as the Reds have languished near the foot of the table for some time. United’s main course this season will instead consist of a decent run in the Asian Champions League, with Adelaide now topping their group after a 2-0 victory over Japanese powerhouse Gamba Osaka during midweek action. Adelaide are resting a large number of regulars for this match, while Melbourne are at full strength and all Heart players will be out to secure a starting berth for next week’s elimination final. Melbourne have drawn their last three matches, but now the all important finals place has been secured I expect the Heart to have victory on their mind, rather than avoiding defeat.
Andy’s Bet: Melbourne to win @ 2.95 (Sportingbet)
SATURDAY (MAR 24)
Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory (AEDT 2130)
These teams played at this very venue only two months ago and Perth belted their Melbourne visitors 4-1. The manner in which the result was obtained was a pointer to how the rest of the season would progress for both clubs. Perth have continued to hammer their opponents, winning 6 of 8 matches since, keeping a clean sheet in each of those wins whilst plundering 15 goals. Melbourne, on the other hand, have just won twice in that time, although the Victory did win and complete a shutout last week as they humbled the Phoenix 3-0. Perth are the only team in finals contention with a long injury list, however they will still field Shane Smelt, Travis Dodd and other players that ooze class. Melbourne also have talented players, but the Navy Blues don’t have the same defensive steel and have the unwanted knack of defensive lapses at the worst possible times. I am not super confident of this tip because of the Glory’s lengthy injury list, however Melbourne have burnt me too many times already this season!
SUNDAY (MAR 25)
Wellington v Central Coast Mariners (AEDT 1430)
Fourth hosts first in this tasty encounter to kick off a super Sunday of A-League football! My read on this match is that the Mariners will look to manage the workload of their playing list and hold off from going full bore. Central Coast played a draining match in the Asian Champions League on Wednesday night and will not be keen on this trip to New Zealand ahead of a two-legged Semi Final with Brisbane, and with no-one on the injury list, coach Graham Arnold has plenty of options if he wishes to shuffle his pack. Wellington will be treating this as a dress-rehearsal for their pending Elimination Final, which they will host next week at this venue. I am going for Wellington to win based on their home ground advantage and my inkling that the Mariners might take this one a bit easy.
Andy’s Bet: Wellington to win @ 2.45 (Sportsbet)
Sydney FC v Newcastle Jets (AEDT 1600)
Who said the A-League finals start next week? It will be season on the line type stuff this Sunday afternoon as Sydney and Newcastle fight for the final spot in the top 6. It will be enthralling for the neutrals and mostly agony for fans of the teams involved, as the goal to end their season could be scored at any time. A few seasons ago the A-League promotional campaign went with the tagline ’90 minutes, 90 emotions’ and come 6pm Sunday, the Sky Blues and the Jets will be at opposite ends of that spectrum. As with other matches to be played this weekend, psychology will play an important role given a draw will be good enough for Newcastle, but only a win will do for Sydney. I think this plays into Sydney’s hands as they know they need to attack, while Newcastle won’t know whether to look for goals or try to avoid conceding, possibly doing neither. Karol Kisel returns from suspension to bolster the Sky Blues midfield and forward Shannon Cole will look to continue his goalscoring form after netting two second half goals last weekend. I’ll finish this review with a trivial statistic – this is the seventh A-League season and at least one of Melbourne Victory and Sydney have made the finals each year, it is now up to Sky Blues to continue the trend for the glamour clubs.
Andy’s Bet: Sydney to win @ 2.17 (Centrebet)
Gold Coast United v Brisbane Roar (AEDT 1830)
Farewell Gold Coast United. We’ll miss your under-appreciated focus on nurturing young talent and your small army of passionate fans who have supported the club. We won’t miss Clive Palmer. Gold Coast have certainly been handed a tough final exam by the A-League schedulers, with the big boys from Brisbane coming to town. Credit needs to be given to United’s players who have remained committed to the cause, picking up a win and two draws since the brown stuff hit the air conditioning. Brisbane must be seriously envied by their Queensland neighbours, with the Roar stable off the field and going from strength to strength on it, as shown by a current 7 match unbeaten streak. One time Socceroo left back Shane Stefanutto has been recalled for the Roar, underling the incredible depth at the disposal of Brisbane boss Ange Postecoglou. Brisbane striker Besart Berisha is the A-League equivalent of Leo Messi or Crristiano Ronaldo, and Berisha might just spoil the Gold Coast’s final exam party.