After four losses in their last seven games, are Geelong still the AFL premiership hope many thought? Here are the cases for and against.

At the mid-season bye period, Geelong were cruising at 11-1 on top of the AFL ladder. They enjoyed a two-game buffer in their lofty spot and, after thumping Richmond by 67 points in round 12, were a short $1.05 to claim the minor premiership with Palmerbet. Done and dusted, or so it seemed…

Fast forward two months, however, and it’s a wholly different situation. Since the bye, the Cats have won just three games and are yet to string together consecutive wins. Their game plan is being picked apart, and the heralded recruits who dominated at the start of the season (namely Gary Rohan and Luke Dahlhaus) aren’t delivering. The big question to arise is this: Is their form slump a mere blip on the path to delivering in September, or are they truly out of contention for the flag in 2019?

Can Geelong still win the flag? The case AGAINST

Various critics have said after the Cats’ loss to Fremantle on the weekend (despite starting as $1.41 favourites with Palmerbet) that they cannot win the flag this year. The 34-point defeat in the west sees Chris Scott’s side out to $4.50 to win the AFL premiership – the longest they’ve been since round five. When asked if they were in trouble, Essendon great Matthew Lloyd didn’t hold back on afl.com.au’s Access All Areas. “I think they are,” he said. “If you look at the other teams around the mark of where Geelong are at – the Eagles, Tigers and Lions – they’re all flying, and Geelong are just treading water.” Two of those sides (West Coast and Richmond) have now overtaken the Cats as the premiership frontrunners. Both are currently $3.75 in Palmerbet’s premiership market.

Lloyd said Geelong are ‘too conservative’ with their ball movement, something reiterated by club legend and AFL Brownlow Medal winner Jimmy Bartel. “Geelong’s play on percentage was a season-low of eight per cent (against Fremantle) and that’s actually a hard thing to do because you accidentally play on eight per cent of the time,” he said. “That means you’re playing mind-numbingly slow and it’s hurting them…they need to be braver and take a few more risks.”

Can Geelong still win the flag? The case FOR

While some have been highly critical of the Cats’ recent form, others have been more sympathetic. Without being inside the four walls of the club, it’s difficult to know whether Scott is guiding them through a heavy training phase in preparation for finals. And despite all the doom and gloom they are, still, on top of the ladder. Last year’s AFL premiers West Coast lost three games in a row mid-season, yet went on to taste the ultimate glory in September.

Whatever the case, the Cats need to return to winning ways this weekend. They face North Melbourne on Saturday night, and will welcome the return back home to GMHBA Stadium. They start as $1.32 favourites with Palmerbet, in what’s set to be a bruising encounter.

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