Adelaide United v Sydney FC
Friday December 11, 7:40pm
Adelaide United chalked up victory number one for the season last week beating Perth 1-0 in a game they dominated but still managed to only register the equal six shots on target with the Glory. I think they were sucked into a fairly open game somewhat against their natural pattern.
Adelaide are certainly improving in defence keeping clean sheets in two of their last three matches. To keep that in context, they were against Newcastle and Perth but even against Victory they looked far more settled conceding from a Penalty and directly from a free kick. Interestingly, I put this down to the inclusion of Jordan Elsey in place of Osama Malik, Malik is probably the better player but is most certainly a stronger defensive midfielder than central defender.
In attack they are still struggling with terribly low goals from shots. They average a goal rate of 1 in 9 (11%) against a league average of 1 in 3.3 (30%).
Sydney FC certainly won’t allow this game to be an open affair and will likely look to strangle their opponents as they have proven so adept at this so far this season. An amazing six clean sheets from nine, hardly a surprise when their opponents have averaged just 1.67 shots on goal per match including 3 times their opposition have not troubled Vedran Janjetovic.
Sydney though are also lacking in front of goals with an average of just a goal a game from an average of 3.9 shots on target. Their conversion rate is closer to the league average at 26%.
Both teams utilise their wide defenders heavily in attack with a strong emphasis on solidifying the central parts of the park via their defensive midfielders and central defenders and I can’t help but feel they will spend most of the game cancelling each other out.
Roughly in this scenario and at the current market prices of 1.92, 3.75 and 12.5 the profit should be 6 units at zero goals, 2.25 units at one goal and 1.1 units at two goals or a loss of 2.75 units three or more goals.
Brisbane Roar v Wellington Phoenix
Saturday December 12, 5:15pm
Note that this match is being played at a neutral venue, Cazaly Stadium in Cairns. We have seen in the past, last week in fact, that neutral venues can pose issues with pitch quality but this won’t be an issue this week.
Both teams have been around the top of the conversion rate charts all season although Brisbane in particular have regressed back to a more normal average 50% back to 40% (still very good). Recent results attest to this fact with them winning just one in their last five and scoring just five goals in that time.
Brisbane’s defence however has still been very good conceding just four goals in those five matches. Last week they were unfortunate not to get something out of the Western Sydney match falling to a cruel deflection and also a Mitch Nichols wonder goal.
Wellington meanwhile were taking advantage of an awful pitch to dispose of Melbourne Victory 2-0. This on the back of picking up just the one point from back to back matches in Sydney. Yes they both have to play on it, but it clearly affected the Victory players more, if not just in their minds as they seemed rather disinterested.
Wellington will spend most of the match playing on the counter averaging just 330 passes per match as compared to the Roar up at 487 per match. This is where I suspect they will struggle.
Firstly they need to break down a solid Brisbane defensive block but perhaps more importantly they will have to do so in tough conditions, around 32° and 60%+ humidity.
A combined 11 of the 18 matches these two teams have played this year have been level at half time and whilst both can be fast starters I expect this game will likely be a slow burner.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne Victory
Saturday December 12, 7:30pm
Western Sydney recorded their sixth win last week overcoming a stubborn Brisbane side in a high quality match. For just the third time this season and the first time since round 2 they had less possession than their opponent and had to rely on a bit of luck to get the job done. However it was by far their biggest test to date and they found a way to win.
The Wanderers have certainly improved with Alberto and Andreu showing the signs of being quality foreign signings, an important factor in championship success. It will be interesting to see if Tony Popovic restores striker Frederico Piovaccari or sticks with Mark Bridge, personally I think Bridge with his more predatory instincts is a much better fit with all the creativity they possess to support their strikers.
Melbourne Victory have been short priced favourites for the competition all season and their lofty position suggested that to be correct. However the underlying statistics have always had them closer to their rivals than the betting or league table would suggest. Defensively 2 clean sheets in 9 is on the low side and their average of facing 3.6 shots on goal per match is better than average but still ranked 3rd.
Attack wise they are around 3rd on shots on goal and conversion rates, perhaps their biggest asset in attack is that they are the only team to score twice from direct free kicks. There are two ways to look at this, either they are over-performing and will suffer a correction or they are under-performing but still chalking up the results. For me the jury is still out, but the key may lie in trying to get Fahid Ben Khalfallah back to his best.
Away from home the Victory have managed to score in only 1 of 4 matches, being held scoreless by Newcastle, Wellington and Adelaide.
There really is very little between these teams and whilst it is not a neutrals bet I’m suggesting a small play on the draw for the interest.
As a wise man once told me if you back the draw or indeed the 0-0 draw it is like taking insurance on watching a boring match. You either collect or at least get to see the entertainment.