Below is a season preview for the 2021/22 A-League Men competition, along with futures betting tips.
1st Macarthur FC
Last Season – 6th
Last Championship/Premiership – Nil
Coach – Ante Milicic
Captain – Ulises Dávila
Last season was their inaugural campaign and they still somehow managed to fight through to Week Two of the Finals. Not only that, but they were also incredibly entertaining along the way. Day 1 at Bankwest Stadium, thanks to a deflected Mark Milligan effort, they claimed a 1-0 win. Not long after vs Newcastle, Loïc Puyo’s bicycle kick and sweet, sweet goal went viral for the world to see. Along the way they also drew 2-2 against Western Sydney, with a combined 30 shots attempted during that match. They also bested the reigning Champions (at the time) Sydney 1-0 in Kogarah. The ‘Bulls’ also turned a practically empty Leichardt Oval into their playground late on in the season against Western United and they scored two ET goals to beat the Mariners in Gosford 2-0 throughout the opening week of the Finals.
Now they’ve added all of Ulises Dávila, Craig Noone and Daniel De Sliva to the equation as they look to continue performing in front of their passionate, ‘cowbell wielding’, never-say-die fanbase. Dávila previously represented Mexico at their youth levels, was on the books at Chelsea and banged in 19 goals across 49 games for Wellington, whilst just two seasons ago he led them to the unlikeliest of Top Six berths. Meanwhile Noone is a certified winner coming off City’s successful double season, while he also previously won the Championship with Cardiff City and League One with Brighton Hove & Albion. While his eight assists were the equal second highest in the Men’s Division last season.
Finally, onto De Silva. He sure has come a long way since making his debut as a starry eyed 16-year-old kid for Perth hasn’t he? The Same player who would also feature for Roda JC, Sydney FC and the Mariners, has turned out to be a fairly dependable Midfielder and one who on his day, can dictate the outcome of an entire game with both his raw, elusive skills and instinctive attacking tendencies. These three players are all A-League proven and all know what it takes to succeed at the highest level of club Football in Australia. Being backed by coaching mastermind Ante Milicic there’s no telling what they could potentially achieve.
2nd Melbourne City
Last Season – 1st
Last Championship/Premiership – 2021
Coach – Patrick Kisnorbo
Captain – Scott Jamieson
Melbourne City extremely deservedly claimed their maiden Grand Final win last season, along with a first-ever Premiership. They were by far the best team in Australia as they successfully claimed what they had been working towards for all those years prior. They saw Jamie Maclaren top the Goal Scorers list with 25, while Craig Noone came up with eight assists, the equal second highest in the A-League Men’s competition. While 20-year-old Marco Tilio set the league alight late in the campaign with two goals from two Finals games. It was a team effort last season. However, things will get increasingly more difficult for them as now everybody wants to beat them and steal their spot on the throne.
Aiding City’s pursuit of back-to-back Grand Final triumphs are some of the simply stellar additions that they’ve made over the off-season. Matthew Leckie is one of the huge names they’ve brought ‘Down Under’ as the 65X capped Socceroo will no doubt be massive for the Men’s Division. Manuel Pucciarelli is another as the Italian/Second Striker should prove to be a great complimentary piece in helping out Maclaren. And while his recent stats don’t stick out a great deal, his 17 strikes for Empoli earlier on in his career show that if given the necessary time, he can do amazing things for his employers. This attack will also feature players such as Andrew Nabbout and the previously mentioned Tilio, it’s unstoppable. City will excel with them all inform and roaring out on the field.
3rd Sydney FC
Last Season – 2nd
Last Championship/Premiership – 2020
Coach – Steve Corica
Captain – Alex Wilkinson
Sydney head into the new campaign off the back of yet another Grand Final, unfortunately for the ‘Sky Blues’ it was one in which they were battered heavily by Melbourne City to the tune of a 3-1 scoreline. And while they are bound to be there abouts again come the end of the season, it may well be age that stops them from going all the way. Andrew Redmayne is 32-years old, while Alex Wilkinson is five years his senior. Miloš Ninković is 36, Adam Le Fondre is 34, Bobô 36 and Kosta Barbarouses 31. Their potential decline, among other players, is a venomous possibility for Sydney and in order to help counter it, they’ll have to rely heavily upon some other lesser used squad members this year/next in order to stay in and around the summit.
Patrick Wood is chief among them for the ‘Sky Blues.’ During the season just past he registered four goals, along with seven shot assists. He produced that through an in incredibly low 23 minutes per game, through just 21 games played. And when Steve Corica gave him free reign, he showed Football supporters what he was capable of when he scored a double away against Macarthur to aid his side in claiming all three points. The Australian U23 international is an extremely capable Attacker and barring any sort of injury catastrophe he appears bound for an influential season ahead.
Sydney has the experience necessary, not to mention the individual star power, for another killer campaign. Even as Bobô ages, he’s still the same athlete that bagged 12 strikes last season, and who scored 95 career goals for Turkish giants Beşiktaş. Whilst as rocks and diamonds as Barbarouses might be, coupled with his age, he is playing for his future with Sydney, and he also managed seven goals and six assists last year. Unfortunately for Sydney, recruits such as Melbourne Victory reject Elvis Kamsoba, combined with recruiting sprees/internal improvement from the likes of City and the ‘Bulls’ means that it won’t quite get done this campaign for one of the leagues more popular clubs.
4th Melbourne Victory
Last Season – 12th
Last Championship/Premiership – 2018/2015
Coach – Tony Popovic
Captain – Leigh Broxham
Last season the Victory took a turn for the worse as they collected the dreaded Wooden Spoon for the first time in the club’s history, achieving just five wins from 26 attempts in the process. Not to mention they possessed a GD of -29! There’s also the fact that from their past nine regular season games, they’ve only conjured up a single victory. Now with former Crystal Palace assistant coach turned Asian Champions League heroics Tony Popovic in charge, the club has made a statement of intent as they search to forge their way back to Australia’s Footballing summit.
Amongst the players they have lured to their luxurious project for this season and beyond include 36X capped Socceroo Matthew Spiranovic and ex- Olympiacos, Wolverhampton and Benfica Defender Roderick Miranda as the franchise attempts to lock its bay down at the back. Both men bring a raft of experience to the club, and as well as that, both are proven winners. They’ll bring a sense of normality back to the Melbourne based club, something which they sorely lacked last season. When those players are added into the mix, alongside fellow new signing Chris Ikonimidis, a player who was on fire during Popovic’s tenure at the Glory, they start to look extremely potent and should be considered a dark horse to take out this seasons Championship.
5th Western Sydney Wanderers
Last Season – 8th
Last Championship/Premiership – Nil/2013
Coach – Carl Robinson
Captain – Rhys Williams
For a club that was the envy of the rest of the competition in its early seasons, they sure have had a grinding halt back to reality over recent years. They’ve finished 8th, 9th, and 8th over the past three campaigns, and they haven’t boasted a Top Six appearance since 2016-17. It would be safe to assume given their lack of success that Carl Robinson is now on borrowed time at the club and could quite well need a blistering start in order to avoid the sack.
One of their most tantalising players lies in the form of Bernie Ibini. The 29-year-old recorded four goals and four assists last season. However, the Forward also put up just 16 shots on target, while he had 38 off. For somebody who had such high responsibilities placed on him at the start of the season, his year was a disappointing output. He, along with returning player and former Sydney FC man Terry Antonis are either diamonds or rocks with regards to their performances. Yet Ibini on his day can tear his fellow competitors to shreds, while Antonis turns up in the deepest moments when his side needs him the most, https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=292049801728384 These two players have a lot riding on them this season.
6th Perth Glory
Last Season – 9th
Last Championship/Premiership – Nil/2019
Coach – Richard Garcia
Captain – Brandon O’Neil
Daniel Sturridge is the key to everything for the Glory this season. He is the key to unlocking their attack and getting it to fire, whilst he is also the key to Perth’s off-field decisions when it comes to how the club goes about marketing themselves and the particular image of themselves that they display to their loyal fans. Because by signing the former Champions League winner the side have displayed their hand as one who will be an absolute menace on the pitch this season. Not to mention the acquisition of Brad Jones, the former Liverpool Goalkeeper, is pretty phenomenal too.
Sturridge banked in six goals across 32 games for Manchester City and 24 in 96 for Chelsea. With Liverpool he scored 67 strikes in 160 appearances for the famous red jersey. As for England he got eight in 26. Even if he’s only half of his former self and can stay injury-free, then he should be a shoo-in for at least a double-digit tally of strikes this season. He’ll also have Bruno Fornaroli as his attacking partner-in-crime, as the Uruguayan put the ball into the back of the net 13X last campaign. Then finally there’s Andy Keogh who is the final piece of the deadly trio. The ex-Leeds and Wolverhampton man previously scored 16 goals for Perth across just two seasons. They should lead a finals desperate Glory side back to where they belong. They will commandingly put the rest of the A-League Men’s competition on notice.
7th Central Coast Mariners
Last Season – 3rd
Last Championship/Premiership – 2013/2012
Coach – Nick Montgomery
Captain – Oliver Bozanic
Last season the Mariners finished 3rd with 12 wins to their name, while the season before they finished last with just five. Suffice to say Gosford was buzzing! And deservedly so! Fans came to the games, and they were rewarded with an entertaining, industrious, and more than anything else, successful team. Now the challenge for them is to emulate that this campaign. However, it’s not going to be easy given that Nick Montgomery is replacing Alen Stajčić at the helm.
Montgomery, while he had a very well-versed playing career is more dubious as a coach, given his only previous role was from 2018-2021 as an assistant for the Mariners. Not only that, but the team also worked well together last season and were fairly seamless at what they did, now they’ll have teams attacking them from every angle, wanting to get one over the now highly fancied side. These two factors very well could derail their season if they’re not careful.
While on a more positive note, Nicolai Müller looks to be a wonderful signing for the club. He played twice for Germany, featured countless times in the Bundesliga and has already shown what a valuable asset he can be in the A-League Men’s competition through his stint with the Wanderers. He created 22 chances for his teammates at goals last season and double the season before. He’ll slot in perfectly for the Mariners attack and will be perfect in helping contribute to what the side wants to achieve.
8th Western United
Last Season – 10th
Last Championship/Premiership – Nil
Coach – John Aloisi
Captain – Alessandro Diamanti
Western United are perplexing to say the least, they replaced Mark Rudan with John Aloisi. Besart Berisha also departed the club, but Alessandro Diamnati remains a mainstay of their attack. While Filip Kurto has been replaced by Jamie Young, among other decisions. It really is difficult to judge how they’ll fare this season, they could perform super well or super poorly. But even with all of these ‘questionable’ choices being made a few things are already abundantly clear.
A – Alosi is determined to succeed with the Green & Black.
B – Diamanti is as influential as ever, and now Dylan Wenzel-Halls is there too.
During Aloisi’s most recent managerial stint with the Roar, the club achieved back-to-back Top Four finishes, however just nine games into his third season in charge he resigned with Brisbane struggling. Based off what he’s said however, he’d rather recapture his glory days, as opposed to the less then memorable ones. Luckily for him though, he has an extremely talented group of players to work with.
Meanwhile Alessandro Diamanti ages like fine wine and the assists flow through him like a Neymar or a Pogba, he is that good. And why wouldn’t they? Given what the former Italian international has achieved in World Football. Last season he produced nine goal assists and 71 total shot assists. And now he has Wenzel-Halls to help him out. The 23-year-old Striking sensation comes from the Roar, having already represented them for four years, 2018-21. While playing in the NPL QLD for Western Pride he scored a simply phenomenal 40 goals from just 29 appearances! The impact Diamanti will have on Wenzel-Halls’s game could be paramount in his future as a professional Footballer. It’s an unlikely partnership, but one that also has the potential to turn their sides attack and club into something special.
9th Newcastle Jets
Last Season – 11th
Last Championship/Premiership – 2008/Nil
Coach – Arthur Papas
Captain – Matthew Jurman
Between the two of them, Jordan Elsey and Dane Ingham bring over 170 games of A-League Men’s experience between them. While there’s also none other then Matthew Jurman, a player who started his career waaayyy back in 2007 and has won 2X A-League Men’s Championships and 1X Premiership. These three new signings help shore up the Jets traditionally shaky defence MASSIVELY. Newcastle wants to triumph this season and it’s on clear display for the rest of their rivals to see.
They’ve also added Greek Attacker Savvas Siatravanis to the equation. He knows how to play a tough brand of Football and will hopefully instil a bit of a backbone into the club’s attack. The same could also be said of Georgian, Beka Mikeltadze. With both players heading over to the Hunter Valley from Xanthi, they are already well accustomed to each other. While the European club finished 2nd domestically last season, so the lads are also bringing some success over with them as well. Even if they fail to reach the finals, Newcastle will be a different breed of dog this season! That is guaranteed!
10th Brisbane Roar
Last Season – 4th
Last Championship/Premiership – 2014
Coach – Warren Moon
Captain – Tom Aldred
The Roar were incredibly well versed defensively last season. In their sole Finals game against Adelaide, they kept the away side to just three shots on target the entire match. Prior to that against Sydney FC, it took the away side until the 95th minute to score their second goal of the day. Then in five out of six matches, which proceeded all of the previously mentioned encounters, they kept Perth to one goal, City to zero, Newcastle to one, which was an OG and just two shots on target, Adelaide to one and the Central Coast to zero.
With promising young Goalkeeper Macklin Freke in goals, along with Aldred in defence + experienced A-League veterans such as Corey Brown (129 games for Brisbane), Jack Hingert (191 appearances for the Roar) and Scott Neville (previously played for Glory X2, Jets and Wanderers), it may not be star-studded, but it is certainly reliable and one that can be counted upon in high-pressure situations.
Losing Jamie Young is obviously a significant blow, but Macklin has the potential to grow throughout the season and really make the role his own, whilst making Young’s departure seem less despairing and more prosperous for the 3X Championship winning club. Their defence would usually list them higher up then this most seasons, but the loss of Riku Danzaki back to his parent club Consadole Sapporo (only for him to be loaned again), sees Brisbane sit here within my predictions, especially given he banged in nine goals last season.
11th Wellington Phoenix
Last Season – 7th
Last Championship/Premiership – Nil
Coach – Ufuk Talay
Captain – Yet to be announced
Being based in Wollongong for god knows how long probably won’t do the Phoenix many favours this season. While there’s also the issues of losing the almost irreplaceable Ulises Dávila along with Steven Taylor. Even accounting for the fact that they finished 9th last season and just a point outside of the finals, every team who finished below them last campaign have by some metrics improved. Just as a few examples, the Glory have acquired Daniel Sturridge, while the Victory have revamped close to their entire playing squad. Ufuk Talay is a bright and well-educated coach, but I wouldn’t go as far as to call him a miracle maker.
Englishman David Ball should keep the ‘Nix’s’ attack alive fairly strongly, even if his support is more limited then in recent years, given over each of the past two campaigns he’s collected six goals and four assists each time. However, the defence has some major red flags surrounding it. Players such as Right-Back Louis Fenton and Left-Back Tim Payne are fine in smaller numbers, but that’s exactly Wellington’s problem, the majority of their defence is made up of average-to-good, but by no means great players. Who’s going to call the shots at the back? Who’s going to complete the match winning tackle? Sorry ‘Nix’ supporters, but it’s looking extremely ominous for you this season.
12th Adelaide United
Last Season – 5th
Last Championship/Premiership – 2016
Coach – Carl Veart
Captain – Stefan Mauk
Tomi Juric is gone as is Al Hassan Toure to Macarthur. Ryan Strain has bounced, as has Jordan Elsey. Noah Smith has left the premises, and Michael Marrone among others is also no longer plying his trade for the ‘Reds.’ It will take a lot for Adelaide to overcome these loses, particularly Juric’s goalscoring exploits and Toure’s x-factor abilities. They are now left with an incredibly young squad that doesn’t have enough balance in it. For example, as good as Craig Goodwin is, there are layers of truth about his inability to succeed overseas re why he keeps on returning to a comfortable home in the form of Adelaide.
Among others Stefan Mauk is certainly an admirable player, but he alone isn’t enough to get it done for the South Australian side. And when you move away from their veterans and onto their younger brigade, well … there’s lots of them is certainly one way to put it. Kusini Yengi is 22 years old, Louis D’Arrigo is 20, Joe Caletti is 23 and Josh Cavallo is 21. While they also have multiple players in the First-Grade squad on scholarship contracts including the likes of Ethan Cox, Bernardo, Yaya Dukuly, and Jonny Yull. That distinct lack of experience in most cases never bodes well for a side, and it’s difficult to see the ‘Reds’ breaking that trend or being one of the few rare ones who aren’t negatively affected by it.
Championship Winner Betting tips:
Pick One – Macarthur FC at $11.00 (Sportsbet)
Pick Two – Melbourne City at $4.33 (Sportsbet)
Smokey Pick – Melbourne Victory at $11.00 (bet365)
Top Goal-Scorer Betting tips:
Pick One – Bobô (Sydney FC) at $11.00 (Unibet)
Pick Two – Jamie Maclaren (Melbourne City) at $3.75 (Unibet)
Smokey Pick – Tomor Hemed (Western Sydney Wanderers) at $13.00 (Unibet)