The early weeks of the A-League schedule has been thrown into disarray by COVID-19, but this week’s docket features six matches as the competition gathers momentum.

A-League Tips – Sydney FC V Western Sydney Wanderers

17:05 (AEDT), Sat 16th Jan @ ANZ Stadium, Sydney

History: Played 25: Sydney 12 V Western Sydney 6 (7 Draws)

Last meeting: March 21, 2020: 1-1 draw at BankWest Stadium

Final Thoughts: Few A-League showdowns are bigger than the Sydney Derby – and Sydney FC have a point to prove ahead of this one.

Wanderers got the better of ‘big brother’ last season, chalking up a pair of 1-0 victories (after going winless in the previous seven derbies) and holding the eventual back-to-back champs to a 1-1 draw.

Sydney FC defeated Wellington 2-1 in their only outing so far this season. Calem Nieuwenhof and Luke Brattan scored either side of the Phoenix’s strike on halftime to secure a hard-fought win in Wollongong.

Wanderers have made an acceptable start under new manager Carl Robinson. They were poor in a 1-0 loss to newcomers Macarthur FC first up, but they grabbed a 2-1 win over the Jets on the road last Friday.

Underdone Sydney FC look a little short as $1.73 favourites; backing the trend of low-scoring derbies provides better value.

Tip: Total – Under 2.5 @ $2.08

A-League Tips – Melbourne City FC V Western United

19:10 (AEDT), Sat 16th Jan @ AAMI Park, Melbourne

History: Played 4: Melbourne City 4 V Western United 0

Last meeting: August 26, 2020 (Semi-final): Melbourne City 2 d Western United 0 at BankWest Stadium

Final Thoughts: It’s been a mixed start to Melbourne City’s campaign. After Connor Metcalfe’s second-half goal steered last year’s grand finalists to a 1-0 win over the Roar in Redcliffe, they crashed 2-0 to Adelaide courtesy of two goals in the last 25 minutes.

Western United’s only fixture so far in their sophomore A-League season – played almost three weeks ago – garnered a nil-all draw at home to Adelaide.

Melbourne City was won of just two clubs Western United failed to beat during their debut campaign, ultimately losing all four matches between the sides. City ended the newcomers’ season via a 2-0 semi-final win. Jamie Maclaren scored seven goals in City’s four defeats of United.

Maclaren and Western United spearhead Besart Berisha will be frothing to get their name on the scoresheet for the first time this season. We’re yet to see much from the Victorian ‘country cousins’, but I think they can at least finish with a share of the spoils this weekend.

Tip: Handicap – Western United +1 @ $1.91

A-League Tips – Newcastle Jets V Macarthur FC

16:05 (AEDT), Sun 17th Jan @ McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

History: First meeting

Final Thoughts: It’s been a torrid start to the season on and off the field for Newcastle Jets. Following a 1-0 loss to reigning wooden spooners the Mariners first up, the Jets were rocked by the A-League stripping the club’s owners of their license.

But the team showed some heart under duress against Wanderers days after the bombshell, ultimately going down 2-1. Nigel Boogaard scored the Jets’ first goal of the campaign.

Macarthur FC have made a promising start to life in the A-League, bookending a reality-check loss to Central Coast (2-0) with a win over Western Sydney (1-0) and a draw with Wellington (1-1). Markel Susaeta produced a 67th-minute equaliser for the Bulls last weekend, soon after the Phoenix had a player controversially red-carded.

Newcastle can take plenty out of last week’s effort, but their off-field situation has to take a toll and Macarthur FC are worth getting behind as the narrow underdog.

Tip: Result – Macarthur FC @ $2.75

A-League Tips – Central Coast Mariners V Western Sydney Wanderers

19:05 (AEDT), Sun 17th Jan @ Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

History: Played 26: Western Sydney 13 V Central Coast 6 (7 Draws)

Last meeting: July 27, 2020: 1-1 draw at Central Coast Stadium

Final Thoughts: Central Coast won just 12 of 80 games in collecting the A-League’s past three wooden spoons. But the Mariners have made a rousing start to this campaign, beating Newcastle (1-0) and Macarthur FC (2-0) to sit atop the ladder.

Wanderers take on the in-form hosts on a tight turnaround from Friday’s derby against Sydney FC.

Wanderers boast six wins and a draw from their last eight encounters with the Mariners. Last season WSW won 2-1 at home and 3-1 in Gosford, while the teams drew 1-all at Central Coast Stadium after the COVID-19 hiatus.

The Mariners’ bubble may well burst sooner rather than later. But on the evidence at both ends of the pitch so far, it’s hard to resist them as underdogs in Gosford.

Tip: Result – Central Coast @ $3.00

A-League Tips – Perth Glory V Adelaide United

21:20 (AEDT), Wed 20th Jan @ nib Stadium, Perth

History: Played 40: Adelaide 16 V Perth 15 (9 Draws)

Last meeting: July 30, 2020: Adelaide 5 d Perth 3 at Coopers Stadium

Final Thoughts: Perth Glory have been waiting patiently to get their A-League campaign underway. They are set to welcome Adelaide United to town for their first fixture of the season.

Adelaide are yet to concede a goal in two matches, playing out a scoreless draw with Western United in Geelong before powering to a 2-0 home win over Melbourne City. Tomi Juric and Stefan Mauk found the back of the net after a scoreless first hour.

In the teams’ last 11 meetings, the Glory have won six games to United’s three with two drawn. Last season the Glory won 2-0 in Adelaide and 3-0 at home prior to the COVID-19 break, but United powered to a 5-3 victory at Coopers Stadium in late-July.

Adelaide boast the advantage of having played two matches already, but as tempting as they are as $3.20 a 17-day break between fixtures will have stunted their momentum somewhat. The draw and under options are the standouts here.

Tip: Total – Under 2.5 @ $2.12

A-League Tips – Newcastle Jets V Brisbane Roar

19:05 (AEDT), Wed 20th Jan @ McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

History: Played 41: Newcastle 16 V Brisbane 13 (12 Draws)

Last meeting: March 20, 2020: Brisbane 1 d Newcastle 0 at Suncorp Stadium

Final Thoughts: Newcastle get three days to recover from their clash with Macarthur FC, though not having to travel takes the edge off the short turnaround.

Brisbane Roar have a loss and a win to show for their efforts under new manager Warren Moon. The return of an attacking mindset was apparent despite a 1-0 loss to Melbourne City first up, and it paid dividends four days later in a 3-1 thrashing of Melbourne Victory.

After being dominated by the Jets for the previous two seasons, the Roar picked up a pair of home wins (3-1 and 1-0) either side of a draw in Newcastle (1-1) in the teams’ three 2019-20 clashes.

The Roar have had an 18-day break between games, but given their encouraging performances so far that’s probably preferable to the embattled Jets’ three-day turnaround.

Tip: Result – Brisbane