The following are previews with betting tips for Round 16 of the 2015/16 A-League season.
Friday, 22 January
Brisbane Roar v Adelaide United
8:00 PM AEDT, Suncorp Stadium
In what proved to be a fruitless exercise, the Olyroos’ attempt to qualify for the Olympics seems to have affected league leaders, Brisbane, more than any other A-League side. Since the absence of Jamie MacLaren and Brandon Borello, the Roar have failed to find the back of the net following a scoreless draw at Wellington in addition to a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Melbourne Victory. After a succession of substitute appearances, Javi Hervas was handed his first start for the Roar and it was his nervousness on the ball that handed the hosts a two goal lead inside 15 minutes from which the visitors failed to recover from. Form side of the competition, Adelaide United, registered an important 3-1 win against bottom club Central Coast after a strong second half showing. Up until the hour mark, it looked like the Reds were destined to endure a frustrating afternoon following a string of spurned opportunities (incl. a missed penalty). Craig Goodwin opened the scoring with an expertly taken goal to set Adelaide United on their way to an important 3 points and a stranglehold on a top six position.
Aside from the unavailability of Brisbane’s aforementioned Olyroos, stand-in striker Jean Carlos Solorzano is out with a quad tear while veteran left-back Shane Stefanutto misses out through suspension. Adelaide are not without their selection problems either with Jimmy Jeggo and Michael Marrone both suspended while keeper Eugene Galekovic and winger Cirio are unlikely to feature due to injury. These sides met at this venue back in October with Brisbane running out convincing 3-0 winners. A similar scoreline is unlikely. Squad depth will be tested as both managers look to reshuffle their respective packs as best as they can.
Nick’s tip: Adelaide Utd 0.5ah @1.71 (Pinnacle)
Saturday, 23 January
Central Coast Mariners v Western Sydney Wanderers
7:30 PM AEDT, Central Coast Stadium
With the curtain soon closing on the January transfer window, the Mariners have been busily working behind the scenes to try and strengthen their squad – sitting bottom on just 9 points, it’s no wonder. Following the sale of Anthony Caceres to Manchester City (loaned to Melbourne City) the Mariners have brought in four players, notably ex Liverpool and Atletico Madrid star Luis Garcia while former Wandererer and Perth forward Youssouf Hersi is expected to sign on the dotted line on Sunday. Despite been outclassed 3-1 by a far superior Adelaide United outfit, there were some positive signs for the Mariners with keeper Alistair Bray impressive on debut while fellow new signing Francesco Stella sparkled in his cameo appearance. For the second week running, the Wanderers were on the receiving end of a harsh defeat after dominating the Sydney derby for long periods, just as they did against Melbourne City the week prior. Following Dario Vidosic’s excellent strike to square the ledger, there was only one side in it but the Wanderers failed to capitalize on their dominance and paid the ultimate price as Sydney’s Shane Smeltz made it 2-1 at the death.
The Mariners can expect a backlash as the Wanderers seek to take a stranglehold on the competition following some rather unfortunate results. Central Coast seem to have recruited well in the midfield and forward departments but the back line still looks short of a player or two. The signs are that the Mariners will eventually be a more competitive outfit but in the short term, they will continue to struggle. The Wanderers won this contest 2-0 almost two months ago and one can expect a similarly comfortable outing for the visitors.
Nick’s tip: Western Sydney -0.75ah @1.76 (Pinnacle)
Sunday, 24 January
Newcastle Jets v Perth Glory
5:00 PM AEDT, Hunter Stadium
It was a long time coming but the Jets finally scored and got a win to boot! Newcastle’s 3-1 win over Wellington put an end to a ten game streak without a win and a six game scoreless run. Who else but David Carney was the star of the show with an assist and a goal completing a productive day out for the ex Socceroo. It was a “must win game” for the Jets and it showed from the first whistle as their intensity and movement off the ball was too much to handle for an out of sorts Phoenix outfit. The sending off of midfielder Ben Kantarovski must of put a doubt or two in the minds of the home side and perhaps if it were not for Carney’s strike to go 3 nil up, then Newcastle may have buckled under Wellington’s late rally. For the second week running, Perth had a man sent off as Jacob Collard received his second caution for delaying the restart of play. Nevertheless, the Glory were able to hang on for a creditable 2-2 draw against high flying Melbourne City. Perth did well to restrict the league’s most potent forward line to only a handful of meaningful chances while remaining a threat themselves in counter-attacking situations.
If either side harbor realistic thoughts of playing finals football come April, then this is a game they should be winning. Perth trail sixth placed Adelaide United by 7pts so a win here is paramount; a draw will not suffice. Although Newcastle are 3pts better off than Perth, they themselves will not settle for a point against the worst away side in the league (Perth has an away record of 0-1-6) and a run of more difficult games to negotiate.
Nick’s tip: Perth 0ah @2.06 (Pinnacle)
Monday, 25 January
Melbourne City v Wellington Phoenix
7:30 PM AEDT, AAMI Park
With the controversial loan deal from parent club Manchester City completed, former Mariner Anthony Caceres is in line to make his debut for the hosts against struggling Wellington. As loan deals are not permitted between A-League clubs, the City Football Group consortium (owners of Manchester and
Melbourne City) took advantage of a loop hole that exists within the current rules to buy the player and loan him out to City without burdening the A-League club’s salary cap. Fair or not, John van Schip will be looking to Caceres to spark his side back into life after some patchy performances, including last week’s 2-2 draw against the ten men of Perth. Following last week’s 3-1 defeat in Newcastle, Wellington are without a doubt the league’s poorest side at the moment. Injuries to key players in addition to the poor form of one of the A-League’s most talented midfielders, Roly Bonevacia, has taken its toll on the club from across the Tasman.
City has ridden its luck a little over the last month with rather fortuitous wins over city rivals Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney while the 2-2 draw against Sydney FC (almost 3 weeks ago) required heroics from veteran keeper Thomas Sorensen. Wellington will be hoping to get a few bodies back from injury otherwise we could see a repeat of the 5-1 FFA Cup result, in August of last year.
Nick’s tip: Melbourne City -0.75ah @1.76 (Pinnacle)
Tuesday, 26 January
Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC
7:30 PM AEDT, Etihad Stadium
In what is arguably the blue ribbon fixture on the A-League calendar, “The Big Blue” derby will take centre stage (in a packed Etihad Stadium) with Sydney FC looking to get one over their old rivals for the first time in exactly two years. After a run of indifferent results, Melbourne Victory look primed to climb the table (currently in 5th & 3pts behind Sydney FC) following the 4-0 mauling of league leaders Brisbane and their most convincing performance for a good while. Guy Finkler produced a man of the match performance, pulling the strings in midfield, while Barbarouses looked sharp with his brace of goals putting the result beyond doubt. Sydney FC may be the “ugly duckling” of all the title contenders as their style does not lend to an expansive brand of football but it is effective. The 2-1 win over local rivals Western Sydney was a testament to that with Matt Jurman putting in a stellar performance at the back while setting up team mate Shane Smeltz for the dramatic late winner.
I doubt very much that Sydney will be as accommodating an opponent as Brisbane were last week, at AAMI Park. For all their good play, Victory did receive a massive helping hand from their opponents who were perhaps feeling the pinch following the short turnaround from their trip to Wellington. With the Olyroos unavailable for both sides, Victory look a little vulnerable at the back (without Geria and Deng) while Sydney FC look less potent going forward without the services of Gersbach, O’neill and Hoole. Note: Olyroo players should be available for selection.
Nick’s tip: Melbourne Victory -0.25ah @1.81 (Pinnacle)