A-League Week 19 Betting Preview
Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners – Latest Odds HERE.
Friday 10th February 2012.
It is rapidly approaching do-or-die time for Melbourne Victory, with a positive result against league leaders Central Coast Mariners all but essential if they are to extend their season into finals time.
Jim Magilton’s side currently trail sixth-placed Newcastle by three points and they can ill-afford to slip further behind especially as they face Brisbane next week and Wellington and Perth in their last two games of the regular season.
They showed precious little in last week’s drab derby draw with Heart, however, to suggest that they are capable of downing the men from Gosford and their cause will not be helped on Friday by the absence of Grant Brebner who will serve a one-match suspension.
Mark Milligan, meanwhile, looks a certain starter even though he has made it clear this week that he will not be considering staying on in the Victorian capital once his current loan spell comes to an end and it looks increasingly likely that enigmatic midfielder Carlos Hernandez will also not be donning the navy and white again next season either.
Olyroos trio Matthew Foschini, Diogo Ferreira and Isaka Cernak will all be unavailable once again this week, as will injured former Perth duo Billy Celeski and Tom Pondeljak and it will be interesting to see how Magilton opts to replace Brebner in the midfield engine room.
As for the Mariners, they will be keen to bounce back having seen their 15-game unbeaten run come to an end at the hands of title rivals Brisbane Roar last weekend.
That result gave both the Queenslanders and Wellington a glimmer of hope that the race for the minor premiership may not be done and dusted just yet and reinforced the notion that the Roar still retain a psychological edge over Graham Arnold’s men dating back to last year’s dramatic Grand Final.
With a seven point buffer still in place, however, there is certainly no need for the Mariners to panic and even if Arnold did want to re-jig his side a little this week, with Mathew Ryan, Mustafa Amini and Oliver Bozanic still away on international duty, his options are limited.
Adam Kwasnik will be hopeful of a promotion from the bench, especially as fellow-striker John Sutton is due to arrive on loan from Scottish Premier League side Hearts later this week and may even come into the squad for Friday if his paperwork can be rushed through in time.
The potential in Victory’s squad remains as high as ever, but they still show no sign of realising it any time soon and time is something they are rapidly running out of.
The best they can hope for this weekend is to pick up a hard-fought point themselves and for results elsewhere to go their way.
Prediction: Melbourne Victory 1-1 Central Coast Mariners
Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Heart – Latest Odds HERE.
Saturday 11th February 2012.
Impressive back-to-back away wins at Brisbane and Sydney have resurrected Newcastle Jets’ floundering season and propelled them right back into the finals mix.
Now occupying 6th place on the ladder, Gary van Egmond’s side will overtake Saturday’s opponents Melbourne Heart if they can clinch the points at Ausgrid Stadium and could even press for a home final if they can find the consistency that has eluded them thus far this term.
Jeremy Brockie continued his impressive form in front of goal by scoring twice in last week’s 5-2 romp against Sydney and the Kiwi will be hoping to add to his season tally of eight on Saturday, not least because he has yet to be offered a new contract by the club.
In terms of early team news, van Egmond should have a full squad at his disposal with the notable exception of Ben Kantarovski who remains away with the Olyroos and the Jets’ starting eleven is unlikely to show many changes to that which took to the field at the SFS last time out.
If the Jets are upwardly mobile, Heart are busy heading in the opposite direction on the back of seven games without a win.
Their slump began well before John van’t Schip announced his imminent departure from AAMI Park, but it’s hard to imagine that the coach’s bombshell has not had a negative impact upon the player group.
The absence of playmaker Fred has definitely taken its toll on the league’s newest club, as has their inability to add an end product to their generally impressive approach play.
For the trip to the Hunter, youngster Craig Goodwin should retain his place in the run-on side after catching the eye on his club debut last weekend, but Matt Thompson is still at least three weeks away from a return to full fitness and Aziz Behich, Jason Hoffman and Mate Dugandzic will also miss out again as they continue their international commitments.
New signing Paul Reid may well be promoted from the bench to add some experience and guile in midfield and David Williams could also get the nod to start ahead of the inconsistent Alex Terra.
The Jets took the honours in the corresponding fixture back on the opening day of the season and although they were well beaten at AAMI Park in Week 6, with their parochial crowd behind them and Heart severely lacking in confidence and momentum, a home win look very much the go here.
Prediction: Newcastle Jets 2-0 Melbourne Heart
Sydney FC v Perth Glory – Latest Odds HERE.
Sydney Football Stadium
Saturday 11th February 2012.
If Sydney FC defend like they did against Newcastle last weekend and Perth Glory attack with the same ruthlessness they showed against Gold Coast in their most recent outing, Sky Blues goalkeeper Liam Reddy could be in for a long night at the SFS on Saturday.
Vitezslav Lavicka’s side were nothing short of calamitous at the back in that 5-2 humiliation at the hands of the Jets, with so many players unmarked at times that they were literally queuing up to score and although they did show some character to haul themselves back into the contest early in the second-half, they did not look like a side that is going to pose any kind of threat come the business end of the season.
That result saw the Sky Blues slip out of the top six and outgoing coach Vitezslav Lavicka now faces a mighty task if he is to mark his final campaign in charge at the SFS by steering the club to another finals appearance.
Sydney have now won just once in their last nine outings, with that solitary victory coming against rock-bottom Gold Coast, but they may draw at least a little comfort from the fact that they have picked up four points from this season’s two previous meetings with Glory.
Lavicka may finally be tempted to ditch his rigid adherence to 4-4-2 in a bid to counter Glory’s more flexible 4-2-3-1 and there is a possibility that Pascal Bosschaart may be moved from centre-back to midfield where his fine distribution would undoubtedly be more effective.
Brett Emerton is expected to return from his hamstring injury and should make the starting eleven, Shannon Cole could also come back into the selection frame after recovering from a hip problem and youngster Mitch Mallia may earn a bench spot given the way his pace troubled Glory when they last met less than a month ago.
In sharp contrast to the hosts, Glory are absolutely flying at the moment, rattling in the goals and reviving memories of past glories in the old NSL.
Ian Ferguson’s side set a new club record of eight A-League games without defeat as they swatted Gold Coast aside on Monday night and the SFS will hold no fear for them given that they have lost there just twice in ten visits.
Neither Josh Mitchell nor Todd Howarth are expected to return to the squad this week, while Chris Coyne, Evan Berger and Scott Neville are definitely ruled out, but the West Australians did not pick up any fresh injuries last week and Ferguson is set to name an unchanged starting eleven on Saturday.
Glory will be looking to chalk up a fourth consecutive away win as they head east this weekend, a remarkable turnaround for the club with the reputation as the league’s poorest travellers and they are a great chance to maintain their superb run.
Prediction: Sydney FC 0-2 Perth Glory
Gold Coast United v Adelaide United – Latest Odds HERE.
Sunday 12th February 2012.
The honeymoon period for new Adelaide United coach John Kosmina is well and truly over and the season looks to be all but over for the side they face on Sunday, Gold Coast United.
It all looked so hopeful for the Reds when Kosmina succeeded Rini Coolen and picked up nine points from his first five games in charge, but since then the South Australians have lost three from four and have slumped back to second-last on the ladder.
A victory at Skilled Park is therefore essential if Adelaide are to stand any chance of featuring come finals time and given the way the home side have been performing in recent weeks, there’s every chance they will pick up those vital points.
Miron Bleiberg cut a forlorn figure as he fronted the media in the wake of his side’s 4-0 rout in Perth on Monday night, the usually effervescent Gold Coast coach seemingly resigned to the fact that he simply does not have a squad capable of avoiding the wooden spoon.
There are one or two rays of sunshine among the gloom for the Queenslanders, namely the fact that they hammered Adelaide 3-0 back in mid- December and that key man James Brown could return from an ankle injury this week, but the men from the glitter strip have won just once since that triumph at Hindmarsh and confidence in the camp looks to be at an all-time low.
With Joel Porter and Dylan Macallister still sidelined by injury, Bleiberg has little room for manoeuvre in terms of shaking up his attacking options, although Golgol Mebrahtu may come into the reckoning for a start this week and Daniel Severino could be handed some more game time as he looks to enhance his growing reputation.
As for the visitors, Zenon Caravella may earn a promotion from the bench to face his former club and Cassio is set to back up after making a successful return from injury last week, but Spase Dilevski, Jon McKain, Anthony Golec, Daniel Mullen and Milan Susak will all miss the trip north due to injury or international duty.
It’s not easy to get excited about this clash between the bottom two, a game that is likely to be played out in front of Skilled Park’s lowest crowd of the season.
With Jonas Salley patrolling central midfield the home side will never roll over, but Adelaide have enough firepower to pick up what would be just their second away win of the season and just about keep their slender finals hopes alive.
Prediction: Gold Coast United 1-2 Adelaide United
Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar – Latest Odds HERE.
Sunday 12th February 2012.
The game of the round takes place across the ditch on Sunday as second-placed Wellington Phoenix welcome third-placed Brisbane Roar to the Cake Tin, with the home side’s best crowd of the season expected to be in attendance.
Phoenix have surprised almost everyone, perhaps even themselves, as their organised, committed, but by no means star-studded squad has battled its way through adversity to become a genuine chance for the title.
Even without Paul Ifill they managed to grind out some decent results and since the talismanic Englishman returned to full fitness, they have been irresistible.
A run of four consecutive wins has seen them move to within three points of leaders Central Coast and with three of those victories coming on the road, even the prospect of playing four of their last six games away from home will not unduly concern the super-confident Kiwis.
Since the club’s injury crisis eased and his players stopped picking up senseless red cards, coach Ricki Herbert has managed to field a largely settled side and is set to stick with the tried and trusted once again in Sunday’s clash with the reigning champions.
Lucas Pantelis and Nicky Ward remain sidelined, but everyone else is fit and available and even previous first-team regulars such as Vince Lia are struggling to force their way back into the run-on side.
With morale in the camp already high, the home side can draw further encouragement from the fact that they held Roar to a 1-1 draw at Suncorp in Week 6 and then beat them comfortably 2-0 in Dunedin in Week 10.
As for the Queenslanders, they were impressive in their win over the Mariners last time out, but off the field they have enjoyed mixed fortunes over the course of the week.
It now appears almost certain that Matt McKay will not be returning to Suncorp on loan as his current club, SPL giants Rangers, will reportedly not agree to the deal unless a fee changes hands.
Roar coach Ange Postecoglou has ruled any such payment out, thereby scuppering the deal, a development that will have delighted the club’s rivals in the A-League title race.
Less delighted is attacking midfielder Issey Nakajima-Farran who was left out of Roar’s Asian Champions League squad which was announced in midweek and it will be interesting to see if the tricky Canadian international is included in the travelling party this weekend.
On a more positive note, the Indonesian Bakrie Group has now completed its takeover of the club and that should benefit Postecoglou when it comes to squad strengthening in the coming months.
In terms of early team news, Jack Hingert may be included in the squad after overcoming an ankle injury, but Matt Jurman, Mitch Nichols and Rocky Visconte all remain away with the Under-23s, meaning the likes of Matt Mundy and James Meyer should be involved again this week.
An absolute cracker looks in store in Wellington where the Yellow Fever will demand that their side does not die wondering against the a Roar outfit still not quite back to their all-conquering best.
It’s not easy to pick a winner, so a spot of fence-sitting may pay dividends on this occasion.
Prediction: Wellington Phoenix 2-2 Brisbane Roar