A-League Round 27 Preview

TattsBet Brekky Show soccer expert James Clark
TattsBet Brekky Show soccer expert James Clark takes a comprehensive look at Round 27 of the A-League.
TattsBet A-League Round 27 Preview

As the final round of the 2013-14 A-League season unfolds this weekend, only Brisbane Roar is assured of its final position on the ladder. For Melbourne Heart, Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory their chance of finals football is a distant memory, as their attention turns to end of season holiday destinations and avoiding the dreaded wooden spoon. The five teams below Brisbane all have an opportunity to claim the all-important second spot that guarantees the deserving recipient the first week off and avoidance of the Elimination Finals.

Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United

Hunter Stadium, Friday 11 April, 7:30pm (AEST)

The Newcastle Jets are a mathematical chance albeit a very slim one, of progressing to the finals with one game remaining. The equation is simple for the Jets (or not really when you break it down). To qualify Newcastle need a win (plain and simple) and Sydney FC need to lose. Simple enough? Not really… Sydney will need to lose with a combined loss margin of four or more goals due to a superior “goals for” differential over the Jets.

For Adelaide to claim second spot, they need to beat the Jets and rely on a Western Sydney Wanderers draw or loss and Central Coast Mariners to draw or lose in their respective matches. The condition of the Hunter Stadium pitch has come under plenty of criticism and I think the Jets might just have the better of their opponents from the “City of Churches”. The possibilities and permutations are “clear as mud”.

My tip: Newcastle

Westpac Stadium, Saturday 12 April, 3:30pm (AEST) 

The Phoenix has ended the season in a fashion that would disappoint their experienced coach Ernie Merrick. Without a win and conceding 18 goals in their past six fixtures, I think the cue has well an truly been placed in the rack for this campaign. Pride and avoidance of the wooden spoon will be their only source of motivation, but saying that, I believe the Victory will have far too much class and attacking power to be troubled in this one, despite travelling across the ditch.

My tip: Melbourne Victory

Melbourne Heart v Western Sydney Wanderers

AAMI Park, Saturday April 12, 5:30pm (AEST) 

On paper this match up looks to be a ‘fait accompli’ with the Wanderers sitting in second spot and the Heart languishing at the bottom with one hand on grasping the spoon. In what will be Harry Kewell’s swan song from football, a sell-out crowd should be on hand to help deliver the Socceroos great a winning send off. As we have seen all season, Heart can step up and beat any team on their day. A lack of consistency and a poor start ultimately weighed down the Heart’s season, but with the pressure all on the Wanderers to win, I’m sensing an upset could be on the cards and a fairy-tale finish for “H” at AAMI Park. This is my pick for the match of the round and should deliver plenty of action and drama. 

My tip: Melbourne Heart

Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners

Suncorp Stadium, Saturday 12 April, 7.45pm (AEST)

With Brisbane’s finals schedule assured a couple of weeks ago, Mike Mulvey will want to head to the week off showing good form, whilst being cautious not to carry any injury concerns into the finals. For this very reason, Roar maybe vulnerable against a Mariners team, who until last week’s loss to Perth, were in fine form. Their last visit to Suncorp saw a narrow 2-1 defeat after a last gasp Besart Berisha goal in the final minute of regular time. The added incentive of a week off could just be the motivation Phil Moss's team needs to strive for back-to-back Grand Final appearances. The Asian Handicap market of (+0.50) $1.85 if you wanted a little breathing space may suit, although taking the Mariners (Head to Head) is great value in my opinion.

My tip: Mariners

Sydney FC v Perth Glory

Allianz Stadium, Sunday April 13, 5:00pm (AEST) 

Sydney FC delivered an excellent performance last Sunday against a hapless Phoenix on a sodden and muddy Allianz pitch. The real test is whether they can back up that fine attacking effort and secure the three points that will see them take part in week one of the finals. Perth Glory will be confident after a morale boosting win in front of their long suffering fans and will want their run to continue as Captain Jacob Burns plays his final A-League game after announcing his retirement last week.

On last week’s form I have to tip Sydney FC. I think the Glory may have played their Grand Final last week but the Allianz surface from last week may have left some heaviness in the ageing legs of some of the Sky Blue squad. I think the game could be a lot closer than many predict, with the ledger squared at one game apiece this season. Seb Ryall is never a bad choice to score a goal, as is Allessando Del Piero who is beginning to wind down after a very successful stint in the Harbour City.

My tip: Sydney FC

James Clark

TattsBet Brekky Show

Click here to bet on A-League Round 27 matches