Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday December 19, 9:40pm
Perth Glory did us a big favour midweek winning at $4+ to record their secend home win in four days. They follow up with another home match against Western Sydney and if they can make it 3/3, they could find themselves just one point out of the six.
The Wanderers meanwhile have won seven on the trot after turning their season around with a 1-0 home win against Perth back in Round 4. All of a sudden they find themselves top of the table with a four-point buffer.
Perth have now conceded just seven in eight matches, if we remove the five conceded to Melbourne City and the three they copped against Central Coast Mariners back in the opening round that’s a decent effort when you consider they average just 41% possession. Indeed they kept a clean sheet and restricted the Victory to 0 shots on goal midweek despite having just 29% of the ball though I do feel the Victory were completely unfocussed on the night. Whilst we can’t discount their two wins this week, I must say they were both awful quality matches and the performances average at best. Creativity has been a problem with Nebojsa Marinkovic getting a double against Central Coast but likely to be absent on Saturday. 17 year old striker Jamal Reiners is a player with promise for sure but certainly won’t strike much fear into the heart of the Wanderers defence and they will have to rely heavily on Diego Castro to win this match.
The Wanderers have conceded just 2.6 shots on target per match, second only to Sydney FC and have managed 15 open play goals from 44 attempts at a conversion rate of 34%, slightly above the league average of 29% but importantly they have improved this from as low as 20% early in the season.
Despite only winning their Round 4 clash 1-0, the Wanderers completely dominated Perth that day with total shots 18-6 and on target 7-0, whilst the Glory have far superior stats at home I struggle to see where they will find goals in this match.
Central Coast Mariners v Brisbane Roar
Sunday December 20, 5:00pm
Central Coast Mariners have picked up just two points via draws with Wellington (at home) and Newcastle (away) since their opening day home win over Perth and despite taking the lead against the Glory last week they lost 2-1.
Brisbane Roar are up to second on the table courtesy of a come-from-behind win over Wellington in Cairns last Saturday and whilst there is still work to be done, Coach John Aloisi has them tracking along nicely.
The Mariners have managed to construct 4.5 of shots on goal per match which is bang on the competition average however they have only converted 20% of these which is 9th ranked. What they would give for a top quality goal scorer. Their defence though, where to start… They have conceded 23 goals in 10 matches from a league worst 59 shots faced. Their defenders are out of their depth but also playing behind a midfield that, Nick Montgomery aside, seem to have been instructed to forget about any defending.
Brisbane have chugged along creating a reasonable 13 total shots and 4.9 on target if we exclude their away matches against the two best defences (Sydney FC and Western Sydney). They have also managed to keep an impressive conversion rate hovering around 40%+. Whilst they haven’t been at the top of the game attack wise in the last few weeks they will receive plenty of encouragement from the Mariners this week.
My only concern is the predicted hot weather (33% with strong northerlies) which generally supresses the total number of goals, particularly early. IF it is hot enough to decree a first half drinks break it may be worth holding back some of your stake for an in play bet at half time.
Melbourne City v Melbourne Victory
Saturday December 19, 7.30pm
Melbourne City have been on fire lately winning three games on the trot, scoring 14 and conceding just two in the process. The likes of Aaron Mooy, Bruno Fornaroli and Harry Novillo tore apart the defences of Perth, Central Coast and Newcastle in a terrific three-game stretch. I suggested a few weeks ago that once they started to get their top team together they would get on a winning run but one must be impressed with their current form.
It is tough to read the context of the wins as they have been against three very poor opponents on the day.
From an attacking perspective they have totalled 64 total shots and 20 on target in the three wins, scoring at a staggering 70% conversion of shots on goal to goals, this has not been a fluke and speaks to the quality of the chances created.
The worry for City is they have still conceded 41 total shots and 12 on target and Perth in particular really should have scored more than 1.
However against top sides, the two Sydney teams, Brisbane and Victory, they have averaged just eight shots and 3.75 on target. Now stats can be sampled and read in anyway you like, but the question remains will they be able to replicate the recent attacking prowess against a far more stable team.
The Victory have been polar opposites of City losing their last three, scoring zero and conceding five to Perth, Wellington and WSW. They have totalled just 20 shots of which nine have been on target. Managing zero shots on goal from 71% possession against Perth really does speak to their current issues and coach Kevin Muscat must find a way to get Fahid Ben Khalfallah in particular back to his best.
Conversely to City though they have only conceded 29 total shots and the equal 12 on target and after resting Matthieu Delpierre midweek they will back themselves to be able to keep things right, even though they are clearly missing the defensive qualities of Carl Valeri in the holding midfield role.
Melbourne derbies have generally been played at a hectic pace and have a tradition of being over 2.5, 13 of 17 in fact though there has been three goalless matches, with Victory naturally holding sway on results winning eight to City’s five with four draws.
It is likely to still be 35 degrees by kick off and I expect that the pace will have to be more moderate in this match, surely it will be suicidal to come out all guns blazing.
I’m going to go against the grain and side with under 2.5 goals at an exaggerated price of around 2.50 for 1 unit.
For the football romantics and perhaps casual A-League punters perhaps a Draw/Victory half full double at around $8 might be the play and cheer for a tight match to be sealed off the bench by a late Archie Thompson stunner in his return from injury, that certainly would bring the house down.