A-League Week 22 Betting Preview
Hyundai A-League Week 22
Thursday 1st March 2012
Two wins from their last four games should be enough to earn Perth Glory a first ever home A-League final and on paper at least, a trip to struggling Adelaide United would appear to offer the perfect opportunity to pick up three of those required six points.
The West Australians will head across the border without several key men, however and may also be a little short on confidence in the wake of last week’s 3-0 home drubbing at the hands of Brisbane.
With Liam Miller and Shane Smeltz already ruled out by injury, Glory could have done without losing another of their main creative forces in the form of Mile Sterjovski who this week completed a surprise move to the Chinese Premier League.
Dean Heffernan is expected to be pushed forward from left-back into left midfield to replace the former Socceroo, with Todd Howarth earning a recall to the starting eleven and Adam Hughes continuing in central midfield against his former club.
Steven McGarry is also set to retain his place despite his touchline spat with Ferguson following his substitution in last week’s defeat, while Josh Mitchell should snare a bench spot after recovering from the knee injury that has kept him out of action for nearly two months.
The home side, meanwhile, saw their faint finals hopes all but disappear as they lost 1-0 at Newcastle last time out and having recorded just one win in their last nine games, it comes as no surprise that the future of coach John Kosmina has again been the subject of debate this week.
Reports are now suggesting that former Victory coach Ernie Merrick could be poised to make his A-League return at Hindmarsh Stadium, with Kosmina moving upstairs to fill a Director of Football role, although such a change would almost certainly not take place before the end of the current campaign.
In terms of Thursday’s team news, both Daniel Mullen and Antony Golec should come back into the Reds squad after returning from Olyroos duty and Bruce Djite and Zenon Caravella could be promoted from the bench if Kosmina decides to throw caution to the wind now that his side’s domestic season is effectively over.
Glory have already beaten United twice this season, but with their leading scorer and main midfield creators all missing will find it tough to make it three out of three even against an Adelaide side for whom the end of the season can’t come soon enough.
It’s hard to foresee a classic unfolding at Hindmarsh and a low-scoring draw looks the most likely outcome.
Prediction: Adelaide United 1-1 Perth Glory
Friday 2nd March 2012
Having snapped their alarming 2012 slump by picking up two wins in their last two games, Heart have shored up their finals credentials, but they will have to improve again if they are to maintain their recent revival at the expense of a Roar side who look to be hitting their straps at just the right time.
Imperious in their 3-0 trouncing of Glory last weekend, Ange Postecoglou’s men have now closed the gap on leaders Central Coast to just three points and it would take a brave punter to bet against them retaining their crown.
Thomas Broich may return from his shoulder problem in time to face Heart on Friday, but Henrique will miss the game due to suspension after seeing red in the second-half against Glory.
Rocky Visconte and Matt Jurman should both be available after returning from international duty, although it’s hard to see Postecoglou making too many changes to a winning side, while Besart Berisha will be keen to continue his free-scoring form as he now needs only two more goals to equal the A-League season record of nineteen currently held by Shane Smeltz.
As for Heart, their treatment room has all but cleared at just the right time and coach John van’t Schip will have plenty of options at his disposal again this week.
The men in red and white did ride their luck a little in last week’s win over the Mariners, but they also showed great defensive resolve which is not something that has characterised too many of their performances since they entered the league last season.
Paul Reid has added some much-needed solidity to their midfield following his move from Adelaide, while Fred’s return to action has also been a massive boost and Eli Babalj’s performances up top have made him a serious contender for this year’s Young Player of the Year award.
With Jonatan Germano and Rutger Worm again likely to be warming the bench this week, the visitors have a decent degree of strength in depth and having won at Suncorp earlier in the season, will not be fearful of the trip north.
Heart should give a decent account of themselves, but even without the pace and guile of Henrique, if Roar replicate the level of performance they produced against Glory, it’s hard to see anyone stopping them.
Prediction: Brisbane Roar 2-1 Melbourne Heart
Saturday 3rd March 2012
Even a draw would leave Jim Magilton’s side at least five points adrift of the top six with just three games left and that would surely represent a bridge too far.
Such an outcome would also all but seal Magilton’s fate, leaving Victory to recruit their third coach in just over a year and start the rebuilding process once again.
The Jets’ rebuilding phase, meanwhile, is very much ongoing, but coachGarycan Egmond has managed to keep results ticking over as he continues his overhaul of theHunterValleyclub.
His charges may not have been overly-convincing in last week’s dour 1-0 win overAdelaideand they were woeful inPerththe week before, but they still remain very much in finals contention and with Jeremy Brockie and Ryan Griffiths still finding the net on a regular basis, have enough about them to trouble most sides in the competition.
Brockie and Griffiths have both been in the news this week, the former reportedly turning down a lucrative offer to join the stampede of A-League players heading to China and the latter pledging his future to the Jets by penning a new two-year deal with the club.
van Egmond is reportedly keen to further bolster his attacking options by signing Olyroos striker Adam Taggart from Perth Glory and is also running the rule over former Swansea City winger Thomas Butler who came close to signing for Victory just last week.
Skipper Jobe Wheelhouse is expected to return for the visitors this weekend having been sidelined by a groin problem, but Grant Brebner is set to miss out once again for the hosts.
Magilton could be tempted to hand a rare start to Isaka Cernak who made a lively cameo off the bench against Gold Coast last week and may also include the newly-fit Billy Celeski in his matchday squad.
Victory have won only once since they downed the Jets back in Week 14, but did manage to beat the men from the Hunter twice at home last season and may well take a leaf out of Perth’s book by seeking to attack from wide positions and exploit the defensive frailties inherent in the Jets’ preferred 4-3-3 formation.
Sheer desperation wasn’t enough to get Magilton’s side over the line last week, however andNewcastleare a far tougher proposition than Gold Coast, so don’t be surprised if Victory have to settle for yet another draw.
Prediction: Melbourne Victory 2-2 Newcastle Jets
Saturday 3rd March 2012
With the Central Coast Mariners tightening up in sight of the finishing line and Sydney FC still in serious danger of missing the finals, Bluetongue Stadium will not be lacking in tension when the two old foes go head to head on Saturday.
There is no love lost between the clubs and their supporters and when you throw in the fact that Mariners’ coach Graham Arnold has been strongly linked with an off-season move to the Sky Blues, the potential for drama and controversy is hard to ignore.
Just one win in five has seen the Mariners’ seemingly impregnable lead at the top of the ladder whittled down to just three points and with Brisbane starting to slip into top gear, the men from Gosford will be keenly aware of the need to return to the winners’ circle this weekend.
In fairness, they should have picked up at least a point at Melbourne Heart last time out and would have done so had John Sutton not missed from the penalty spot and Graham Arnold is not expected to make too many changes to his starting eleven.
He will, however, have to make do without Rostyn Griffiths who has left the club to move to Chinese side Guangzhou and the Mariners will certainly miss the midfielder’s combative presence and high work rate.
Fortunately, virtually every other senior player on the club’s roster is fit and available for Saturday, including Tomas Rogic whose continuing fine form may well mean he will be following Griffiths through the Bluetongue Stadium exit door come the end of the season.
The visitors, meanwhile, will make the short trip north licking their wounds after a disappointing 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Wellington.
Yet again, Vitezslav Lavicka’s side played only in fits and starts, squandering the opportunities they created and looking anything but secure at the back.
Karol Kisel and Mark Bridge could both come back into contention this week having been sidelined by groin and ankle injuries respectively, although neither is expected to be fit enough to start.
Given that a point would represent a decent return for the Sky Blues from this game, Lavicka may well err on the side of caution and persevere with Bruno Cazarine as a lone striker.
The Mariners have already beaten Sydney twice at the SFS this season and on home soil, despite their recent stuttering form, will fancy their chances of making it a clean sweep.
It will probably be tight, butArnold’s men should get over the line.
Prediction: Central Coast Mariners 1-0 Sydney FC