Ahead of the 2022-23 A-League Men’s season kicking off this weekend, we assess some key talking points for what’s set to be another big campaign.
It’s always a long off-season for the A-League.
Last season’s Grand Final was in May, in case you were wondering. Which means anticipation is always high whenever Round 1 rolls around. So who are the this season’s favourites? And what can we expect from the opening weekend, kicking off on Friday night at AAMI Park?
Staying in Melbourne?
Early markets suggest that there’s a huge chance the toilet seat trophy will remain in Melbourne. Last season’s minor premiers (and grand finalists) Melbourne City ($3.75) unsurprisingly start as favourites to take home the 2022-23 title, just behind crosstown rivals Melbourne Victory ($4.50). There’s somewhat of a gap from there to the next-best hopes this campaign, with both Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers sitting at $7.50 with Palmerbet. But lurking behind is another Melbourne outfit; reigning A-League champions Western United at $8. The reigning champs kick off their campaign with a Grand Final replay against City on Friday night. City start $1.80 at AAMI Park for Scott Jamieson’s 300th.
The A-League is back on Friday night, with Melbourne City hosting last year's champions and crosstown rivals Western United.@MelbourneCity captain @ScottJamieson joins @cstanaway to chat about what to expect from this year's season. #9News pic.twitter.com/afTjG9UWwy
— 9News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) October 5, 2022
The beauty of domestic football in Australia is — unlike many European leagues whereby certain clubs are bound to mid-table mediocrity, season upon season — each outfit starts a new campaign as genuine hopes to do something special in the coming year. Western United, for example, started last season as lowly $17 hopes. Yet they pulled off the incredible, which should give other teams’ faithful hope. This season, the club considered least likely to claim the title is Wellington Phoenix at $36 with Palmerbet, closely followed by both Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory at $31. But when you consider that with the the current EPL season (eight clubs starting at $501), it’s chalk-and-cheese.
Speaking recently ahead of the A-League season kicking off, former Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory coach (and now Celtic manager) Ange Postecoglou said the open-nature of the competition was one of its biggest selling points. “The beauty of the A-League is that as an A-League club supporter you can start every year fairly optimistic that you’re a chance to win it, which is great. That’s not always the case around the world,” he said.
The first Australian to manage in the men's @ChampionsLeague group stage 🇦🇺
— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) September 6, 2022
Tight opening round
City and WSW ($1.61 favourites at home against the Glory) are the only two favourites under $2.00 on the opening weekend of the 2022-23 A-League season. All six other clashes are exceedingly difficult to call. The tightest — and what’s set to be the biggest clash of the weekend — is traditional rivals Sydney FC ($2.50) against Melbourne Victory ($2.60) on Saturday night at Allianz Stadium. Just prior to that encounter, however, all eyes will be on one man at Suncorp Stadium. Former QPR, Southampton and West Brom striker Charlie Austin was one of the biggest signings in the off-season, and his acquisition for the Roar this campaign is a boon for the league. Can he get on the scoresheet in his debut Down Under? His new club start marginal $2.30 favourites against newly-crowned Australia Cup winners Macarthur FC ($2.80).
Charlie Austin is officially coming Down Under 🇦🇺
From London to Brisbane. From QPR to the Roar.
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) June 27, 2022