The following are previews with betting tips for Round 24 of the 2016/17 A-League season.
Western Sydney v Melbourne City
7:50 PM AEDT, Spotless Stadium
Tony Popovic has a fully fit squad to choose from. Few changes, if any, are expected after Western Sydney produced arguably their most complete performance of the season, in the 3-1 win over Wellington.
Melbourne City bad boy, Dean Bouzanis, is available again after serving his five match suspension. Michael Jakobsen has also been promoted after recovering sufficiently from a persistent calf problem.
Tim Cahill misses out as he is away on international duty with the Socceroos. Fernando Brandan is a long-term absentee.
The Wanderers will hope they’ve turned the corner after two fine wins in the space of 4 days. What made last Saturday’s 3-1 win over Wellington even more impressive was that it came off the back of a 3-2 triumph in the ACL, away to Seoul FC. Confidence should be at a season-high and with a stranglehold on sixth place, Western Sydney should be looking to kick on and perhaps snatch fourth place off faltering Brisbane.
City look almost assured of a home preliminary final after their 4-0 win over Newcastle. After suffering an early scare, Socceroo great Timmy Cahill settled the nerves with a trademark headed goal. The introduction of Nick Fitzgerald, and Bruce Kamau later on, put the contest to bed with their pace and trickery too much for a dispirited Jets outfit.
Nick’s tip: Western Sydney -0.25ah @2.13 (SBOBet)
Central Coast Mariners v Adelaide United
5:35 PM AEDT, Central Coast Stadium
First choice goalkeeper, Paul Izzo, returns from suspension. It will be interesting to see if Izzo is reinstated to the starting lineup following Ivan Necevski’s standout performance against Sydney FC.
Adelaide United stalwart, Isaias, is likely to slot straight back into the starting XI following his return to fitness.
At just the tender age of 18, Riley McGree is hoping to become the second youngest capped Socceroo when Australia faces off against Iraq and UAE. McGree misses out along with Marcelo Carrusca, the latter serving a one match suspension.
Ivan Necevski’s ‘man of the match’ heroics were not enough to stop the Mariners from suffering their 13th defeat of the season. Returning to the familiar surroundings of Allianz Stadium, Necevski put in a stellar goalkeeping performance but could not deny former club Sydney FC a 1-0 win. There was no denying that the Sky Blues were the far superior side but Central Coast did have their moments, especially in the first half.
Finals football for Adelaide United has long been off the agenda. It has simply been one of the worst title defenses of any reigning A-League champion. The Reds though are on a 3 match unbeaten run that includes last week’s midweek 3-3 draw against Jeju, and the controversial 2-1 win over Brisbane, on Sunday. A win here will see Adelaide jump over the Mariners to second from bottom.
Nick’s tip: Adelaide United 0ah @1.88 (Marathon Bet)
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory
7:50 PM AEDT, Suncorp Stadium
A couple of veterans return for Brisbane with Luke de Vere and Thomas Broich back off the treatment table.
Matt McKay is expected to sit out for at least a month after injuring his knee in the spiteful clash in Adelaide. Goalkeeper, Michael Theo, serves an automatic one match suspension after elbowing Dylan McGowan.
A host of Melbourne Victory youngsters will get their chance to shine with a number of regulars away on international duty.
Besart Berisha is on World Cup qualifying duty with Kosovo, James Troisi is away with the Socceroos, while Marco Rojas and Jai Ingham are away with the All Whites.
It’s safe to say that referee Steven Lucas will not be appointed to any A-League fixtures in the foreseeable future. That’s scant consolation to the Aloisi brothers who are probably still seething after the events that led to Brisbane’s 2-1 defeat in Adelaide. As a result, their Top 4 aspirations are in the balance with Perth just a point behind in 5th place. Brisbane will fancy their chances on their home turf after four consecutive games on the road.
Melbourne Victory all but secured second spot on the table with an entertaining 4-1 win over Perth, a fortnight ago. The scoreline could of been anything really, such was the open nature of the contest. It was good news all round for the 3-time A-League champs with formerly banished midfielder Ben Khalfallah receiving a standing ovation for an outstanding performance.
Nick’s tip: Brisbane -0.25ah @1.99 (SBOBet)
Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets
5:00 PM AEDT, Westpac Stadium
Des Buckingham will be forced to make as little as five changes to his regular starting XI. Wellington did propose to the FFA to have this fixture rescheduled, but to no avail.
Watson, Parkhouse, Fox, Bonevacia are just some of the names sure to come into the side.
For the visitors, Jason Hoffman returns from the one game suspension picked up against Brisbane, a fortnight ago. Mark Jones may opt for more changes after his side’s dismal showing in Melbourne, last week.
Wellington will be keen to keep their finals hopes alive despite the huge setback at Western Sydney, last week. The 3-1 defeat to the Wanderers, Wellington’s direct rival for that sixth and final playoff spot, opened a 5 point gap between the sides. Flying into Sydney just 24 hours before kick-off, the Nix got off to an extremely slow start, one of which they never fully recovered from. With the international football calendar thoroughly crippling their starting XI, Des Buckingham will hope he has enough quality in reserve to combat the struggling Jets.
Newcastle looks almost certain to extend their barren run to 7 seasons without finals football. The 4-0 defeat to Melbourne City was their heaviest this season. The Jets have shown signs of improvement, under the stewardship of Mark Jones, but just two wins since the turn of the year does not make for good reading.
Nick’s tip: Wellington 0ah @1.94 (SBOBet)
Perth Glory v Sydney FC
7:00 PM AEDT, nib Stadium
Former Romania U21 international, Lucian Goian, is vying to make his home debut after signing on as a free agent in midweek. Brandon Wilson is also in line for a starting berth following the surprise Socceroos call-up for teammate, Rhys Williams.
Graham Arnold is forced into making two changes to what has proven to be an almost unbeatable starting XI. Former Wanderers and Melbourne City keeper, Andrew Redmayne, will get his chance between the sticks with Danny Vukovic away with the Socceroos. Former Socceroo, David Carney, may switch to the left to accommodate for the absence of Rhyan Grant.
In what is easily the match of the round, Perth is sure to throw everything at champions elect Sydney FC. A top four berth, and the reward of a home prelim final, is well and truly on the cards for Perth despite the 4-1 defeat to Melbourne Victory, a fortnight ago. The final score was cruel on the Glory with the concession of goals either side of half-time swinging the game in favor of the hosts. Perth, more than any other side in the Top 6, are hungry for a final at NIB as they have won just twice on the road all season.
With the premiers’ plate in safe keeping, Sydney FC is gunning for Brisbane’s record points haul of 65 in a regular A-League season. A fortnight ago, the Sky Blues accounted for Central Coast to stretch their points tally to 56. Filip Holosko’s eighth minute volley at the back post was enough to see off the lowly Mariners but hard task master, Graham Arnold, couldn’t have been satisfied with the profligacy in front of goal.
Nick’s tip: Over 3 goals @1.89 (Pinnacle)