The following are previews with betting tips for Round 17 of the 2016/17 A-League season.
Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC
7:50 PM AEDT, Etihad Stadium
Melbourne Victory can recall a number of key players for this clash as they look to keep their title hopes alive. Jason Geria and Ben Khalfallah both return from suspension while rested duo, Oliver Bozanic and Marco Rojas, look set to be thrust back into the Starting XI.
Sydney FC are forced into another change at the back as Rhyan Grant misses out through suspension.
New signing, Jordy Bujis, is set to take make his full debut for the Sky Blues but the question is in what position? Graham Arnold may opt for a back three as there is no obvious replacement for Grant.
Nothing but a win will do for Melbourne Victory as they look to loosen Sydney’s grip on the title. It was a horror week for Kevin Muscat’s men with 2 defeats in 8 days, in Perth and Wellington, respectively. Realistically, a draw is perhaps the best Victory can hope for against the red hot league leaders.
Sydney FC returned to winning ways against Adelaide United to stretch their lead at the top to 8 points. After a drab scoreless draw in the Sydney derby, a fortnight ago, the Sky Blues returned to top form against the Reds.
Nick’s tip: Sydney FC 0ah @2.14 (Pinnacle Sports)
Newcastle Jets v Melbourne City
7:50 PM AEDT, C.ex Coffs Int Stadium
Newcastle Jets welcome back speedsters Andrew Hoole and Morten Nordstrand from suspension.
Yet to find his feet in the A-League, Finnish striker Aleksandr Kokko has surprisingly been left out of the squad. Wayne Brown misses consecutive matches with a hip flexor injury.
Melbourne City are at full strength as they look to win on the road for the first time since October.
The Jets will aim to rediscover their exciting brand of football after a disappointing 2-0 loss at Western Sydney. Newcastle suffered without some of their main forwards and as a result, failed to lay a glove on their opponents. I’m expecting a more vibrant performance with Hoole and Nordstrand back in contention.
Melbourne City continue to meander along, seemingly content with their FFA Cup triumph. The 2-1 win over 10-man Central Coast was hardly a result to send the pulses racing. They will need to match the Jets’ intensity if they are to get anything from the Hunter.
Nick’s tip: Melbourne City -0.25ah @1.62 (Pinnacle Sports)
Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory
5:35 PM AEDT, Central Coast Stadium
Roy O’Donovan serves a one match suspension after his harsh sending off against Melbourne City.
In the Irishman’s absence, Josh Bingham may get a chance to impress. Fit again Jacob Poscoliero is vying for a spot in central defense.
Perth are boosted by the return of flying winger Chris Harold, after missing out on last week’s fine 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory.
Club captain Rostyn Griffiths serves the final match of his suspension.
A repeat of October’s 2-0 win looks highly unlikely for the Mariners, especially in the absence of top scorer Roy O’Donovan. The return of Poscoliero may see Liam Rose revert back to his regular position alongside Nick Montgomery.
Perth’s recent resurgence has seen the club rise to 5th but they cannot rest on their laurels just yet with a third of the season to go. Such is the closeness of the league that 8th placed Newcastle are just 4 points behind. Perth are on a run of five games without defeat and I expect them to continue their rich vein of form against the sorry Mariners.
Nick’s tip: Perth -0.25ah @1.82 (Pinnacle Sports)
Brisbane Roar v Western Sydney Wanderers
7:50 PM AEDT, Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane name Brett Holman in their matchday squad for the first time since his knee injury in November. The former Socceroo has since had surgery so a short cameo is the best he can hope for.
Jamie MacLaren is pushing for a start after impressing off the bench in recent outings. It’s safe to say that the Arana experiment has not worked out for John Aloisi with the midfielder used as an auxiliary striker.
Western Sydney are set to start with an unchanged side after recording their first win since early December.
Lachlan Scott may keep out Wanderers’ top goalscorer Brendan Santalab after the 19 year old scored his maiden A-League goal last weekend.
Brisbane’s left it late against the Nix but J-Mac came to the rescue with a tap in on 87 minutes. It was an important three points for the three-time A-League champs in their bid to secure a Top 4 spot. John Aloisi’s men will be looking to kick on with Holman back in the fray.
The Wanderers have had a frustrating season with over 56% percent of their games resulting in draws. Striking options are at a premium at Wanderland but the recent emergence of Lachlan Scott and improved form of Josh Sotirio are two huge positives, as evidenced in the 2-0 win over Newcastle.
Nick’s tip: Western Sydney 0.5ah @1.7 (Pinnacle Sports)
Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix
5:00 PM AEDT, Coopers Stadium
After just 3 goals in 16 starts, Adelaide United has parted ways with Sergi Guardiola. The Spaniard never really hit off at the reigning champs so perhaps it was a good move for both parties.
Sergio Cirio will continue to lead the line for the Reds unless there is a late move in the transfer market.
Wellington are without Italian centre-back Marco Rossi after he picked up his fifth caution for the season.
Dylan Fox is likely to be brought in from out of the cold with perhaps his last opportunity to prove that he does belong in the A-League. The young Aussie has not featured since his dismal showing in the 6-1 defeat to Melbourne Victory, three months ago.
If Adelaide United are to stage an improbable gatecrash of the Top 6, then a win against 6th place Wellington is a must. Lying 8 points behind the visitors, Guillermo Amor’s men must make a stand here or they can start booking their holiday getaways.
Wellington are coming out of a tough run of three games in 7 days. After wins over Central Coast and Melbourne Victory, the Nix visibly tired late on against fast finishing Brisbane. Wellington will be eager to get back to winning ways, led by captain Andrew Durante whose gaff led to Roar’s late strike.
Nick’s tip: No tip.