The following are previews with betting tips for Round 5 of the 2016/17 A-League season.
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne City
7:50 PM AEDT, Suncorp Stadium
3 days rest? No problem. Melbourne City’s squad depth came to the fore last week, accounting for Adelaide United just 72 hours after a spiteful FFA Cup derby win over rival Melbourne Victory. John Van’t Schip made 4 changes to the side that played in midweek with old war horses, Tim Cahill and Michael Jakobsen, given the night off. Bruno Fornarolli’s brace was enough to see off a fast finishing Adelaide United with recalled Socceroo, Luke Brattan, the standout. Brisbane made it two wins on the trot as they overcame in-form Perth. Just moments after been introduced off the interchange bench, Brandon Borrello strode onto a long throw and finished clinically beyond Liam Reddy to give Roar a deserving 2-1 win.
Despite their surge up the table, Brisbane will aim to keep improving on their performances to date. Things are slowly looking up as marksman Jamie MacLaren broke his scoring duck while former Socceroo, Brett Holman, put in his most accomplished performance since his return to these shores. Aloisi has a full squad to choose from with forwards Dimi Petratos and new signing Arana, deemed fit enough for selection. The visitors are also back to full strength with John Van’t Schip likely to thrust Cahill and Jacobsen straight into his starting XI.
Nick’s tip: No bet.
Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets
5:35 PM AEDT, Westpac Stadium
“Nux hit for sux!”. In what has become a traditional Melbourne Cup Eve fixture, Wellington suffered a demoralizing 6-1 defeat at the hands of Melbourne Victory. In what was their fifth consecutive defeat at the Etihad in as many years, 10-man Wellington imploded as they managed to concede 4 times in the final 20 minutes. Referee, Alan Milliner, bore the brunt of Wellington’s protestations with some rather peculiar decision making. Newcastle were swept aside by runaway leaders Sydney, 2-0, although it may have been a different story had Ugarkovic converted an easy chance on the stroke of half-time.
Ernie Merrick is a man under pressure as his side look to break a streak of 4 straight defeats. With a host of Wellington’s All Whites unavailable for next week’s fixture at Central Coast (due to New Zealand’s World Cup Qualifier against New Caledonia), the game against the Jets takes on added significance. The visitors have enjoyed recent success in this fixture but a long injury list could make this a very tough assignment.
Nick’s tip: Wellington -0.25ah @1.75 (Pinnacle Sports)
Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
7:50 PM AEDT, Allianz Stadium
The Big Blue is back baby! What better way to lead into this blue ribbon event at The Allianz than with both sides in top form. Sydney FC have stolen most of the headlines so far with their faultless start to their campaign. The Sky Blues sit pretty atop of the A-League table with 12 points, 11 goals scored, and none conceded. Only two sides have managed a similar feat, since the competition’s inception, and both went on to claim the league title. The 2-0 win at Newcastle was a procession as the Sky Blues hardly needed to get out of third gear. Following the disappointment of been knocked out of the FFA Cup to rival Melbourne City, as defending champions no less, Victory responded in the best possible manner. Besart Berisha and Marco Rojas both helped themselves to a brace each as Kevin Muscat’s men ruthlessly feasted on a Wellington side in disarray.
It has been 9 games and almost 3 years since Sydney FC last won this fixture. The Sky Blues won’t get a better chance to get one back on the old enemy with confidence and team morale at an all time high. Graham Arnold would probably take a scratchy 1-0 win if you offered it to him but his players would be looking to put on a show, not to dissimilar to the one offered up in the Sydney Derby (4-0 win against Western Sydney). While the humiliation of a poor Wellington side was good for team confidence, Kevin Muscat would know that Sydney will be nowhere near as accommodating.
Nick’s tip: Sydney FC -0.5ah @1.90 (Pinnacle Sports)
Adelaide United v Central Coast Mariners
5:00 PM AEDT, Coopers Stadium
How does the cliche go? “You can’t win a championship in the earlier rounds but you can definitely lose it”, something like that anyway. Just 4 games into the season and defending champs Adelaide United are in a bit of a pickle. Injuries have really put paid to Guillermo Amor’s best laid plans as his side suffered a third straight 2-1 defeat, this time to Melbourne City. Amor could take heart from the fact that his side finished the game off strongly with Sergei Guardiola scoring his maiden goal on Australian soil. The Mariners were the latest side to make the most of some lax Western Sydney defending as debutant, Adam Berry, struck close to the hour mark to earn his side a share of the spoils. In what was a ridiculously open game, the Mariners rode their luck at times but could of snatched all three as Connor Pain missed a sitter with an open goal at his mercy.
Riley McGree, Jordan O’Doherty, and Danny Choi are perhaps not household names as yet but if their showing against Melbourne City is anything to go by, then perhaps they could don the Green & Gold some time down the track. There’s no time like the present though and Amor will demand maximum points with a tough schedule ahead. It will not be easy as Mariners gaffer, Paul Okon, regains the services of club captain Nick Montgomery who will add some much needed steel in the middle of the park.
Nick’s tip: No bet.
Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers
7:00 PM AEDT, nib Stadium
The curious case of Kerem Bulut. Will he or won’t he fly to Perth? The ‘once’ troubled Western Sydney striker was left out of the squad last week as part of Tony Popovic’s squad rotation policy. That was the official club explanation anyway. With just over a minute on the clock, Popa looked like a genius as Bulut’s replacement, Brendon Santalab, opened the scoring after a flowing counter-attacking move. Thereafter, Mitch Nichols had at least three golden opportunities to extend the lead while Japanese midfielder, Jumpai, struck the woodwork. For a second week running, following the 2-2 draw against the Jets, the home crowd were left rather deflated as a defensive mix-up, involving Robbie Cornthwaite and much maligned keeper Andrew Redmayne, led to the concession of an equalizer. Meanwhile, Perth will be hoping to return to the standard that took apart highly-fancied Melbourne City a fortnight ago. Despite a slight recovery after an extremely poor first half, Perth deservedly left empty-handed from Brisbane in a 2-1 defeat.
Kenny Lowe’s return to the dugout after a one-match ban will definitely boost energy levels on the pitch. The exuberant Perth manager will be jumping for joy at the news that Shane Lowry and Adam Taggart return to the squad after recovering from their respective knocks. Despite just the one loss this season, Tony Popovic will feel that Western Sydney should be further up the table. Perhaps the away manager has worked on some extra fitness drills during the week as recent fade outs have led to questions about his side’s stamina.
Nick’s tip: Perth -0.25ah @1.83 (Pinnacle Sports)