A-League Round 2 Preview and Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 2 of the 2016/17 A-League season.

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Friday, 14 October

Adelaide United

Adelaide United v Western Sydney Wanderers

7:50 PM AEDT, Coopers Stadium

Western Sydney Wanderers

In what is a replay of last season’s Grand Final, on paper at least, both sides will be looking for maximum points following mediocre opening rounds, respectively. Perhaps it is naive to expect too much too early from two finalists that have undergone severe makeovers over the off-season. Against Newcastle, Adelaide United fielded just five players that started at the Adelaide Oval, back in May, while the Wanderers began with just four as they were thumped for four by city rivals Sydney FC. More on that later. First off, we touch on Adelaide United’s 1-1 draw at Newcastle. Aside from Isaias, a completely revamped midfield/forward line struggled to create chances against spirited opposition. On loan from Granada, Spanish striker Sergei Guardiola was often isolated up front while there was little drive from midfield meaning chances were at a premium. It was no surprise then that Adelaide’s equalizer came from a calamitous defensive mix up which gifted Jesse Makarounas a goal on debut. Western Sydney had their colours lowered once again, by the Sky Blues, stretching their winless Derby streak to 33 months. To be fair, the 4-0 scoreline flattered the visitors but there was no doubt that they were the better side on the night. In what was the biggest Sydney derby defeat since Western Sydney’s inception, in 2012, Wanderer’s gaffer Tony Popovic fielded 3 A-League debutants in Borda, Pinatares and Kusukami. While the Japanese national, Kusukami, acquitted himself very well in front of a raucous crowd of 61,880, the other two had a nightmarish introduction to A-League football. Uruguayan, Pinatares, looked well off the pace in midfield and was substituted at half-time, while Borda was sent off on 84′. On another night, maverick striker Karem Bulut would of scored a brace and perhaps changed the course of the game but Sydney FC gloveman Danny Vukovic was in tip top form.

Aside from the Grand Final, this fixture produced three low-scoring stalemates last season. Western Sydney are boosted by the return of club captain, Nikolay Topor-Stanley, who returns from suspension following his sending off in the FFA Cup quarters, against Melbourne City. Jacob Melling or Kearyn Baccus are in line for a start in place of Pinatares while Nicola Martinez’s impressive cameo appearance off the pine (last week) may earn him a full debut, in place of Steven Lustica. In the continuing absence of Adelaide United’s Argentinian maestro, Marcelo Carrusca, I expect Guillermo Amor to field an unchanged line-up.

Prediction: Western Sydney +0.75ah @1.63 (Pinnacle Sports)


Saturday, 15 October

Sydney FC

Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners

5:35 PM AEDT, Allianz Stadium

Central Coast Mariners

Sky Blues’ gaffer, Graham Arnold, will be guarding against complacency as his chargers take on former club and last season’s cellar dweller, Central Coast. There’s no doubting that a 4-0 thrashing of a bitter rival is a fantastic way to open a campaign but there are always things a manager can work on. At 2-0 up, the match against Western Sydney was still in the balance as Sydney FC’s earlier dominance in midfield had dissipated. Flying Slovakian winger, Filip Holosko, may have received all the plaudits (and the MOM award) for his goal and assist but it was the shot stopping brilliance of keeper Danny Vukovic, in key moments that set the platform for a comfortable victory. The Mariners make the short 80km journey down south in a buoyant mood after their eye-opening 3-3 draw in Perth. Former Olyroos manager and now top man of the Mariners, Paul Okon, made a brilliant start to his A-League career as his side reversed a 3-0 deficit at half-time to gunning for a winner, as the clock ticked down do full-time. What Okon said at the break definitely worked but it was also the substitution of Senegalese recruit Jacques Faty that went a long way in turning the tide. The experienced defender, who incidentally plied his trade with Sydney FC over the past few seasons, was simply awful in his Mariners’ debut – directly at fault for all 3 goals. Another former Sky Blue, goalkeeper Ivan Necevski, fared much better as he kept Perth at bay in the second 45 while wingers Trent Buhagiar and Connor Pain laid siege down Perth’s flanks. While the Mariners got a little lucky with the second goal that came about from a rare headed own goal by a keeper, in this case Liam Reddy, no one can deny that the visitors deserved something tangible from this match.

Aside from a 1-0 loss in season 13/14, Sydney FC have negotiated this fixture quite comfortably in recent seasons, winning four of their last five by at least 2 goals or more (at the Allianz Stadium). Graham Arnold has an embarrassment of riches to call upon if he decides to alter his starting XI with Brosque, Ibini, Dimitrijevic and Ryall all waiting in the wings. With an FFA Cup semi-final against NSW NPL side Canberra Olympic to look forward to, perhaps some of the aforementioned will get their turn on Wednesday. The Mariners are expected to make one obvious change with Jake McGing coming in for the out of sorts Jacques Faty. Young starlet, Liam Rose, is away on international duty with the Australian U-20 side.

Nick’s tip: Sydney FC -1.25ah @1.76 (Pinnacle Sports)


Melbourne Victory

Melbourne Victory v Melbourne City

7:50 PM AEDT, Etihad Stadium

Melbourne City

Another round, another huge match in the A-League as Melbourne takes centre stage for the first of two Melbourne derbies in as many weeks. Three league points are up for grabs this Saturday night at ‘The Etihad’ while on Tuesday week, the two city rivals will face off at AAMI Park in an FFA Cup semi-final. Following on from the record-breaking 62,280 at ANZ Stadium for the Sydney derby, another bumper crowd is expected with traditional powerhouse, Victory, up against a Cahill-led Melbourne City. If last season’s quarter-final wasn’t painful enough (see last week’s summary), Kevin Muscat’s men suffered more heartbreak, at Suncorp Stadium, as 10-man Brisbane denied his side a certain 3 points. Looking back, the 1-1 result was a fair one but you won’t hear Muscat admit to that in a hurry as Brisbane’s Luke DeVere somehow looped a volley into the corner of the net, while falling backwards, with virtually the last kick of the game. Not too dissimilarly, debutant and ex-Mariner Mitch Austin had put Victory in front on 83′, after making the most of a looped cross that somehow fell at his feet off a posse of Roar defenders. In wet and windy conditions in Wellington, Melbourne City did just enough to get the 1-0 win after a dominant first half display. With Tim Cahill on Socceroos’ duty, other players got their chance to put their names up in lights with those of Brattan, Caceres, Kamau, Brandan and Colazo shining brightest. City almost paid for their profligacy in a match they should of had wrapped up before the hour mark when they were reduced to 10 men. Veteran keeper, Thomas Sorensen, was shown his marching orders for denying Fijian flyer, Roy Krishna, an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Thereafter, City were indebted to substitute keeper, Dean Bouzanis, who made some crucial stops.

Going on last season’s results, a win apiece and a draw, there’s not much separating the sides. City though is almost unrecognizable to the side that took to the field in season 15/16. The big news coming out of the Victory camp is that James Troisi will miss up to a month with a broken collarbone while fellow new recruit Marco Rojas, is likely to start off the bench as he is due back from New Zealand international duty, on Friday. All eyes will of course be on that man Cahill who should be fit and firing after playing limited minutes for the Socceroos. I will be surprised if he doesn’t start. Dean Bouzanis will deputize in goal for the ‘Great Dane’, Thomas Sorensen, who serves a one match suspension.

Nick’s tips:
Melbourne City +0.25ah @1.81 (Matchbook)
Over 2.5 goals @1.68 (Pinnacle Sports)


Sunday, 16 October

Newcastle Jets

Newcastle Jets v Brisbane Roar

5:00 PM AEDT, Hunter Stadium

Brisbane Roar

The Jets will hope that last week’s gutsy showing against reigning champs, Adelaide United, will bring more people through the turnstiles. The 9,145 in attendance, including members of the championship winning side of 07/08, witnessed a performance to be proud of as their side looked the more likely winners in a 1-1 draw. In what is hopefully a sign of better things to come for a club that has been beset by mismanagement, in recent times, Mark Jones got his A-League managerial career off to a bright start. Old habits die hard though. After Englishman, Wayne Brown, put the Jets in front with a perfectly placed shot, keeper Jack Duncan and Daniel Mullen got into an awful mix up to gift wrap an equalizer to the visitors. In the second half, Nicholas Cowburn and Andrew Hoole both missed glorious chances to seal all 3 points but it wasn’t to be. The Roar also gained a creditable 1-1 in their match with Melbourne Victory after playing a quarter of the game with a man less. In what was a slow start for John Aloisi’s men, they soon got to grips with the game as former Socceroo, Brett Holman, and fellow new recruit, Thomas Kristensen, began to get on the ball. In a match with few clear cut chances, Jamie Maclaren should have done better after springing the offside trap while left full-back, Corey Brown, was unlucky to have a goal chalked off for offside. With the game in the balance, Roar captain Matt McKay was shown his marching orders on 66′ for a second bookable offense. With both sides looking solid at the back, it was no surprise that the goals eventually came in a rather fortuitous manner.

Newcastle manager, Mark Jones, has his first real selection headache with no less than three players hobbling off against Adelaide. The news is definitely not good for Daniel Mullen who is likely to miss up to 3 months with knee ligament damage while Hoffman (achilles) and Kokko (calf) should be available. Devante Clut is likely to get the nod up front after impressing on Sunday while winger Morten Nordstrand is back in the squad. For the visitors, former Jet Jacob Pepper is a like-for-like replacement for the suspended Matt McKay while Oar and Petratos are pushing for starting berths. New signing, Arana, may not be risked at this stage as he works on his fitness.

Nick’s tip: Brisbane Roar 0ah @1.62 (Pinnacle Sports)


Perth Glory

Perth Glory v Wellington Phoenix

7:00 PM AEDT, nib Stadium

Wellington Phoenix

In what was one the most surprising turnarounds in recent memory, Perth will be looking to pick themselves up off the canvas after relinquishing a three goal lead, at home, against last season’s bottom side. The 3-3 draw against the Mariners was great viewing for the neutral but something akin to a nightmare for Glory manager Kenny Lowe. Perhaps his players fell into a false sense of security? We can’t know for sure but what we do know is that Mariners’ centre-back, Jacques Faty, was “Perth’s best player” in that first half. Following the break, Andy Keogh had numerous chances to wrap up the match but couldn’t make any of them stick. It will be interesting to see if this result has any lasting effects on the squad. Wellington will be kicking themselves for not taking at least a share of the spoils against Melbourne City. The Nix could not make their numerical advantage count on the scoreboard after Sorensen was sent off on 58′. To be fair, Melbourne City were by far the better side leading up to that moment as Glen Moss produced a few worldies to keep his side in the contest. Striker, Roy Krishna, would have had a lot to answer for during the week with some wasteful finishing and some incredibly selfish play costing his side dearly.

If recent meetings are anything to go by, then Wellington will be liking their chances of an upset. In the last 6 clashes between the sides, the visitors have come up trumps on five of those occasions. Kenny Lowe will perhaps look to rejig his defense with first choice centre-back pairing, Alex Grant and Shane Lowry, likely to be drafted in pending availability. Rhys Williams or Nebojsa Marinkovic could step into midfield for the inexperienced Brandon Wilson. Wellington welcome back a raft of players from international duty with New Zealand. Former Melbourne Victory winger, Kostas Barbarouses, should slot straight into the right wing position (for either Krishna or Watson) while Andrew Durante (in for Fox) and Michael McGlinchey (in for Gorrin) should also be awarded with starting berths.

Nick’s tip: No bet.


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