After a disrupted start the A-League season is in full swing – despite the odd COVID interruption – and this week’s bumper seven-match schedule features a Grand Final replay.
History: Played 43: Adelaide 21 V Central Coast 17 (5 Draws)
Last meeting: February 14, 2020: Adelaide 2 d Central Coast 0 at Coopers Stadium
Final Thoughts: Adelaide coming into the round-opener on a three-match losing streak – including a horror 4-0 loss away to Macarthur FC last Friday. The Reds have conceded the most goals in the competition, leaking two a game on average.
Central Coast have won six of their eight games – including their last three – to sit atop the table. The Mariners accounted for the Phoenix 2-0 in Wollongong on Sunday, with Matt Simon scoring for the third straight game.
Adelaide boasts an 8-1-1 record in their last 10 clashes with Central Coast. Last season the Reds chalked up wins in Gosford (3-1) and Adelaide (2-0) either side of the Mariners’ 2-0 home victory.
Home-ground advantage is about all United have going for them ahead of this one. The Mariners’ fairytale resurgence isn’t showing any signs of slowing down just yet.
History: First meeting
Final Thoughts: Western United had an unscheduled weekend off due to COVID, giving them more time to plug up the defensive gaps that underpinned a 3-2 loss to the Mariners a fortnight ago. The sophomore A-League outfit have won just one and drawn two of their five games.
New boys Macarthur FC continue to sail along in second, crafting a 4-2-2 record. They are coming off arguably their two most impressive performances: a 2-0 win away to the Roar and a 4-0 home thrashing of Adelaide.
Matt Derbyshire scored the Bulls sealer in Redcliffe before bagging a second-half hat-trick against Adelaide. On both teams’ recent form, Macarthur are very hard to resist as the underdog.
History: Played 42: Brisbane 16 V Sydney 13 (13 Draws)
Last meeting: August 10, 2020: 1-1 draw at Suncorp Stadium
Final Thoughts: Sydney FC were left to cool their heels last weekend after the Grand Final rematch was canned by COVID, but the champs have made a sound 3-1-1 start to the season. They outlasted the Phoenix 2-1 in Matchday 7 courtesy of a Kosta Barbarouses brace.
Brisbane Roar’s four-match winning streak has ground to a halt, going scoreless in their last two against Macarthur (0-2) and Newcastle (0-0). Warren Moon will be looking to unlock the attacking spark that netted 13 goals in their previous four games.
Last season Sydney FC won both home fixtures against the Roar – 5-1 and 1-0 – while the teams drew 1-all in Brisbane after the post-COVID resumption.
It’s hard to bust out of little slump against the Sky Blues, much less on the road. Sydney FC for the win.
History: Played 40: Victory 16 V Newcastle 15 (9 Draws)
Last meeting: February 22, 2020: 1-1 draw at McDonald Jones Stadium
Final Thoughts: Bottom-of-the-table Melbourne Victory’s season is shaping up as being worse than last year, with just a win over the Glory and a scoreless draw against Western United to show for their six outings. Doing double-duty in Round 7, they copped a 5-2 thrashing from the Roar and a 2-0 beating from Western Sydney.
Newcastle are clawing their way back, going unbeaten in their last four games after opening the season 0-4. After upsetting Melbourne City 1-0, they held Brisbane Roar to a scoreless draw in Redcliffe last week.
The Victory have won four and drawn one of their last six against the Jets. But last season’s two clashes in Melbourne were split one win apiece, while the sides drew in the sole Newcastle encounter.
The Jets are a tempting head-to-head bet as $2.75 underdogs, but I also like the under in this one.
History: Played 24: Western Sydney 11 V Wellington 9 (4 Draws)
Last meeting: July 31, 2020: Western Sydney 1 d Wellington 0 at BankWest Stadium
Final Thoughts: The signs are a little worrying for a Wellington Phoenix side stranded in Australia for the season. Since chalking up their only win against Central Coast three weeks ago, they have gone down to Sydney (2-1) and the Mariners (2-0).
Western Sydney, in contrast, are well-placed with three wins and three draws since their season-opening loss to Macarthur. Wanderers put away the Victory 2-0 with a late surge on February 10.
The Phoenix have won four of their last five against WSW, but Wanderers won the most recent encounter – at home after last season’s resumption in July.
Back Wanderers in here: they’ve conceded just six goals in seven games and have scored two in each of their last two outings.
History: Played 32: Sydney 14 V Melbourne City 9 (9 Draws)
Last meeting: August 30, 2020 (Grand Final): Sydney FC 1 d Melbourne City 0 (extra-time) at BankWest Stadium
Final Thoughts: Melbourne City FC belatedly get their first chance to exact revenge for last year’s A-League Grand Final loss; this clash was initially scheduled for last Tuesday before COVID restrictions intervened. Rhyan Grant’s extra-time goal secured Sydney FC’s second straight title in the decider, the match finishing 1-0.
Sydney will be backing up from a Saturday assignment, while Melbourne City will have endured a 16-day break since their 1-0 loss at Newcastle – their third straight.
Sydney FC have won 10 of the teams’ last 12 games, though City have managed a victory over their heavyweight rivals in each of the past two seasons.
The Sky Blues may arrive in Melbourne a little leg-weary, but their hosts are in ordinary form.
Tip: Result – Sydney FC
History: Played 40: Victory 20 V Wellington 9 (11 Draws)
Last meeting: March 15, 2020: Wellington 3 d Victory 0 at Westpac Stadium
Final Thoughts: Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix are both backing up from Sunday home games before this midweek clash, which was originally set down for last Wednesday.
After a remarkable run of five straight draws between the clubs, the Phoenix thrashed the Victory 3-0 in Wellington just before last season’s COVID-19 hiatus.
To see how these teams fared on the weekend and for a full rundown on this encounter, come back on Monday.