A-LEAGUE MEN 2021-22: EXPERT TIPS

Blow the whistle! Because the A-League Analyst is providing tips on the best matches across each weekend fixture from Oceania’s premier men’s soccer league.

Read his tips plus a full preview for the 2021-22 season below.

Grand Final Winner – Market


Central Coast Mariners v Macarthur

I’d argue that Central Coast have been better value for where they currently sit on the table (9th), but having played 15 games, there is less room for excuses. They had a great opportunity to resurrect their finals chances against a struggling Perth mid-week, but looked the second best team by a fair way.

Off another short break, and away from Central Coast Stadium, I’m not too confident about the Mariners’ chances. Macarthur on the other hand bounced back from their losses against Victory and City with a strong 3-1 performance against an improved Wanderers, managing to fight off a late fightback.

Giannou looks settled up top, and this has flowed down to the rest of the lineup with Craig Noone now regularly playing in his natural position on the wing. Macarthur should be too strong in this one.

BETTING STRATEGY

  BACK – Macarthur (WIN) at $2.70+ for 1 unit


Melbourne City v Melbourne Victory

City head into the Melbourne Derby full of confidence after coming back from a 2-0 deficit against Western United, and probably deserved all 3 points in the end. Leckie should return to fitness and start against Victory, along with his Socceroos teammates who will feature in the derby before meeting up with the national team next week (Maclaren, Tilio & Metcalfe).

The Victory have a quick back-up from their Asian Champions League loss to Vissel Kobe in Japan. The incredible match went to extra time and I am incredibly concerned about the fatigue of the starting XI.

Popovic will rotate the squad which will see the likes of Rojas and Margiotta start the derby, but outside the attacking third, Victor’s depth isn’t as strong. I expect this to be a pretty open affair, but for City to run over the top.

BETTING STRATEGY

  BACK – Melbourne City (WIN) at $1.90+ for 2 units


Sydney FC v Western United

Adelaide have been a fascinating team to watch this season and to the neutral, have snuck under the radar and currently sit 3rd on the table. While Halloran departed the Reds a while back, their latest win against Perth was their first game without Stefan Mauk and they comfortably took the 3 points without relying on late goals.

Japanese striker Hiroshi Ibusuki has definitely flown under the radar and looks to be a great bit of business. Newcastle on the other hand have taken 4 points from their last 5 games and are struggling to find their early season form.

While midfielder Daniel Penha would currently be one of the favourites for the Johnny Warren medal, their defense is struggling and off a quick break, I don’t think they’ll be able to get a result in Adelaide.

BETTING STRATEGY

LAY – Sydney (WIN) at < $2.25 for 2 units

This has been one of the most exciting lead ups to an A-League season in recent memory – which for myself is a combination of the new broadcast deal, the signing of Daniel Sturridge, as well as the strong local talent that shone last season – and I am excited to be sharing my thoughts throughout the next 26 rounds and finals.

I will offer recommended stake sizes and min/max prices, and split my season preview into 3 categories: ‘The Contenders’, ‘The Pack’, and ‘The Pretenders’.


THE CONTENDERS

Melbourne City

You could argue we should stop the season preview here. If they maintain their form and style from last season, the current City squad could achieve special things again this season and beyond.

They maintain their depth in all positions and while they have lost Craig Noone and Adrian Luna, the signings of Mathew Leckie and Manuel Pucciarelli will more than make up for it. The team to beat, by a long way.

Sydney FC

The Sky Blues should again feature near the top of the table with a quality squad and Adam Le Fondre leading the line (albeit likely as part of a front two).

While they need to figure out who Le Fondre’s main strike partner will be after a few tried combinations last season (it was never the intention for Bobo to be a starting player), my main concern is their reliance on Milos Ninkovic, whose legs are not getting any younger.

I tend to agree with their current quote in the market as second favourites.

Melbourne Victory

Last season was an absolute disaster and Victory have looked to rectify this by pulling off the signing of the off-season (until Perth snared Sturridge) by securing the services of Tony Popovic.

They will be the biggest improvers this year (granted you can’t go backwards from the wooden spoon), adding the likes of Chris Ikonomidis, Josh Brillante, Jason Davidson, Jason Geria, Matthew Spiranovic, Roderick Miranda and Ivan Kevala to their starting XI.

Front man Francesco Margiotta could be the difference between the Victory simply being a contender and winning a trophy.

Western Sydney Wanderers

Funnily enough it was squad depth that worked against the Wanderers last season as Carl Robinson struggled to find his best XI, especially in the front half of the pitch. Tomer Hemed flew under the radar for Wellington last season, netting 11 goals from 21 appearances, and will provide a much needed focal point for WSW up top.

Adama Traore, Ramy Najjarine and Dimi Petratos will flourish in a better team, Terry Antonis is a proven A-League commodity, and I expect Rhys Williams to control things at the back.

Like Victory, I can see them challenging City and Sydney.

THE PACK

Macarthur FC

Macarthur might be the most exciting team to watch this season as I am expecting them to score plenty of goals, but will also concede their fair share.

Davila headlines a front four alongside Juric, Noone & De Silva and may compete with City in an attacking sense, however the losses of Milligan and Federici who underpinned their league best away record are significant.

I think they will be hit and miss this season and are the perfect example of the outright market not necessarily needing to correlate to other derivative markets. They are well found in outright betting, so I prefer to take them on in the top 6 market.

Perth Glory

Enter Daniel Sturridge, arguably the league’s biggest signing since Del Piero. He could take Perth to glory this season, however huge questions marks remain over his fitness and injury record.

While they have made some decent signings, for me their overall squad has them sitting amongst this middle pack. How they start the season with a couple of months of away games will be telling, and whether Sturridge stays on the park will be key.

Market price is about right at the moment, and will challenge with the other teams in ‘The Pack’ for the bottom half of the top 6.

Adelaide United

Adelaide importantly retain the services of Craig Goodwin this season and made the key signing of Isaias to boss the middle of the park, however the loss of Tomi Juric to Macarthur leaves them with either George Blackwood or Kusini Yengi to lead the line.

Consequently, it is hard to imagine them contending for any trophies, but do have the squad to make finals. Rightly mid-pack in the market.

Brisbane Roar

Warren Moon did a tremendous job last season in getting the most out of his squad and securing 4th spot.

On paper, their squad again doesn’t set the world on fire and will rely heavily on Jay O’Shea in the middle of the park and on new Argentinian striker Juan Lescano.

Brisbane are probably the most consistent of the teams in the pack and should be thereabouts in the finals race.

Western United

Western have flown under the radar this offseason and it’s a shame they haven’t sorted out their home ground to realise home game advantage.

Neil Kilkenny is a quality signing in midfield and Serbian international striker Aleksandar Prijovic should provide needed improvement on Besart Berisha & Lachie Wales’ attacking output last season. Any side with Alessandro Diamanti pulling the strings should not be ignored.

They are a slightly better chance for the top 6 than the market currently rates them, however I’d still want a slightly bigger price than current to back them.

THE PRETENDERS

Central Coast Mariners

I hope that the ‘Pretenders’ name of this section doesn’t come back to bite, or the fact that I’ve placed the Mariners in this category after an incredible 2020-21 season.

However, with departures of coach Alen Stajcic, starting players Jack Clisby, Daniel De Silva, Gianni Stensness, and super-sub Alou Kuol, I cannot see them replicating or going near their previous tally of 42 points with their current squad.

Unfortunately the market hasn’t simply copied last year’s table, so CCM are around the right price.

Newcastle Jets

A-League squad turnover between seasons is higher than most other leagues, but Newcastle take this to another level with more than 7-8 of their starting XI leaving in the offseason.

They are therefore one of the hardest to get a read on, but on paper they are firmly placed in this bottom group of teams that will look to fight for the wooden spoon.

Matthew Jurman leads a long list of handy signings, but nothing suggests they will challenge for the 6.

Wellington Phoenix

Wellington were probably the form team outside City leading into last season’s finals series, however this form and a return to NZ wasn’t enough.

It is looking like they will again play the majority of the season based in NSW, but more importantly the losses of Ulises Davila, Tomer Hemed and Steven Taylor has their squad looking very thin.

I expect them to be challenging Newcastle for bottom place.


BETTING STRATEGIES

Grand Final Winner

BACK – Melbourne City for 2 units at $4.0+

BACK – Melbourne Victory for 0.5 units at $10.0+

Minor Premiership

BACK – Melbourne City for 2 units at $3.0+

BACK – Melbourne Victory for 0.5 units at $10.0+

Top 6

BACK – Melbourne Victory for 2 units at $1.8+

LAY – Macarthur FC for 1 unit at < $1.9

LAY – Newcastle Jets for 1 unit at < $3.0

Wooden Spoon

BACK – Wellington Phoenix for 1 unit at $4.0+


Find better odds on A-League matches throughout the 2021-22 season at Betfair.


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