The following are previews with betting tips for Round 1 of the 2015/16 A-League season.
Thursday, 8 October
Western Sydney Wanderers v Brisbane Roar
8:00 PM AEDT, Pirtek Stadium
After a fall from grace last season, these two respective former A-League and Asian Championship winning franchises will be hellbent in competing in the title race this term. With foundation manager, Tony Popovic, still at the helm at Western Sydney – it will be interesting to see how his team gels after numerous off-season changes to the team’s roster. No less than 17 players have departed the club with Popovic perhaps taking a leaf out of Adelaide United’s copybook in signing 3 Spanish midfielders. Brisbane Roar manager, John Aloisi, will have a more settled squad to work with – Luke Brattan the only notable departure from his squad. Not unlike his Western Sydney counterpart Aloisi has also delved into the Spanish market to boost his midfield stocks with Corona and Javier Hervas incoming.
These sides met almost 2 months ago in a FFA Cup clash with the Wanderers squeaking out a 1-0 win courtesy of a second half GolGol Mebrahtu strike. It’s difficult to take too much from that result as both sides were still in the early stages of pre-season. Roar look a little underdone in the midfield department going into this with Matt McKay away on international duty with the Socceroos while it is too early for new signing Javier Hervas to take any part. The Wanderers have never won on the opening day of the season but perhaps tonight is their night.
Nick’s tip: Western Sydney DNB @ $1.62 (Centrebet)
Friday, 9 October
Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory
7:40 PM AEDT, Adelaide Oval
Adelaide United will be aiming to at least go one better this season after they were brushed aside 4-1 by Sydney FC at the semi-final stages of season 14-15. Former Spain international and club technical director, Guillermo Amor, will aim to continue the good work of his compatriot Josep Gombau – the latter resigning at the back end of last season. Guillermo has made “like for like” replacements in the off-season, replacing Nigel Boogard and Awar Mabil with Iacopo La Rocca and Mate Dugandzic, respectively. It will be a case of more of the same for Kevin Muscat’s men after they did the double last season – claiming the minor premiership and championship. The Victory have done well to hang onto all their overseas players. Whilst the loss of Socceroo Mark Milligan is a big blow, the acquisition of fellow Socceroo Oliver Bozanic serves as a reasonable solution. In other areas, quality gloveman Danny Vukovic replaces the not so steady Nathan Coe.
Victory ran out comfortable 3-1 winners, just over a fortnight ago, when these sides clashed in the FFA Cup at AAMI Park in Melbourne. For this clash, both sides will be bereft of a number of players with the Young Socceroos and Socceroos on international duty. Adelaide United look weakened the most with no.1 keeper and club captain, Eugene Galekovic, ruled out while flying wing-back Tarek Elrich is also a big loss. A bumper crowd in excess of 30K is expected at Adelaide Oval so energy levels should be high with perhaps goals aplenty.
Saturday, 10 October
Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory
5:15 PM AEDT, Central Coast Stadium
Season 2014-15 marked a dark period in the history of both these clubs with Central Coast sacking their coach midway through the season (and recording just 5 wins in the process) while Perth were punished for breaching the salary cap and relegated to 7th place (after finishing 3rd) as a result. A new season brings new optimism and both Tony Walmsley and Kenny Lowe will be talking up their team’s respective chances. In the off-season, Central Coast’s recruitment drive has been focused mainly on boosting their attack with left winger Mitch Austin and Irish journeman striker Roy O’Donovan joining the club. Meanwhile, Perth have shopped at the higher end of the market with highly rated Spanish winger, Diego Castro, joining from Getafe and Dutch striker Guyon Fernandez joining from NAC Breda – among others.
There’s no doubting that Perth is blessed with the superior quality, at least on paper. Central Coast were anemic going forward last season so one wonders how the new guys have adapted to their new surroundings and Walmsley’s methods. The Glory lost only once on their travels last season and look to again have the troops to play the perfect counter-attacking game.
Nick’s tip: Perth Glory +0.5ah @1.52 (Bet365)
Sydney FC v Melbourne City
7:30 PM AEDT, Allianz Stadium
In his second full season at the club, the pressure is on Sydney FC manager Graham Arnold to go one better than last season. The Sky Blues did well to reach the Grand Final, after finishing 2nd to eventual champions Melbourne Victory (during the regular season), but the 3-0 drubbing in May was almost as embarassing as Frank Lowy’s dramatic fall. Owners of Melbourne City, the City Football Group, will be expecting a certain level of consistencyand at the very least another finals appearance from John Van’t Schip’s outfit. Last season, Melbourne City seemed to lack an identity – like an empty shell with no sense of direction or plan of attack.
With last season’s league top scorer Marc Janko returning to Europe, Arnie has responded in the transfer market with the capture of Serbian forward Milos Ninkovic and Slovakian winger Filip Holosko. In addition to the permanent signing of French duo Jacques Faty and Mickael Tavares (were on loan last season), Sydney FC is a team blessed with experience and youthful exuberance. Melbourne City will have a familiar look to fans of the Premier League with veteran keeper Thomas Sorensen and veteran Northern Irishman Aaron Hughes adding some much needed steel at the back. The outcome of this match could hinge on the availability of City’s marquee man, Aaron Mooy.
Nick’s tip: Sydney FC DNB (1st half) @1.63 (Bet365)
Sunday, 11 October
Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets
5:00 PM AEDT, Westpac Stadium
Wellington Phoenix were one of the revelations of season 14-15 with their quick, short passing game and lighting counter-attacking brand of football. Unfortunately for Ernie Merrick’s men, their form dipped just before the finals and they were ousted with barely a whimper to Melbourne City. To say Newcastle Jets had a season to forget, on and off the pitch, is a huge understatement. They had a manager in Phil Stubbins who was out of his depth and an owner in Nathan Tinkler who had fallen on hard times and fell behind on club debts – it was just a shambles. Unsurprisingly, the Jets finished bottom with just 3 wins. Since May, the FFA made certain moves to stabalize the future of the club. This included taking ownership of the club’s licence, appointing former Fulham assistant manager Scott Miller as Newcastle Jets’ head coach and former Melbourne Victory assistant, Jean-Paul de Marigny, as his right-hand man.
In the off-season, Wellington were dealt a huge blow as star striker and Socceroo, Nathan Burns, departed for FC Tokyo. In response, Merrick drafted in former Dutch youth international Jeffrey Sarpong from NAC Breda. The Jets have made some noteable signings with former Adelaide United captain, Nigel Boogard, joining their ranks in addition to former Wanderers midfield enforcer, Mateo Poljak. Up front, the signing of Brazilian striker Leonardo, and giant Serbian, Milos Trifunovic, will certainly make the Jets a more potent outfit.
Nick’s tip: Over 2.5 goals @1.8 (Bet365)