A-League Round 21 Preview

TattsBet Brekky Show soccer expert James Clark
TattsBet Brekky Show soccer expert James Clark takes a look at Round 21 of the A-League.
TattsBet A-League Round 21 Preview

Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix
Coopers Stadium Thursday 6:30pm AEST

Round 21 of the Hyundai A-league kicks off one night earlier this week at Cooper’s Stadium, with Adelaide United hosting the in-form Wellington Phoenix. Despite a minor form blip following a 5-0 thrashing by the Heart a fortnight ago, this game promises to deliver an entertaining style of play. Both teams have attacking flair, with Jeronimo Newman and last week’s hat-trick scorer Sergio Cirio receiving early attention in the first goal scorer market. Usual suspects from the Phoenix, “King” Carlos Hernandez, Stijn Huysegems and Kenny Cunningham will attempt to spoil the party. The Reds have an impressive home record to the “Nix”, who to date have only come away with maximum points twice in eleven attempts. Coach Ernie Merrick has turned around an average away-record to notch up wins over champions, Central Coast, and home-ground specialist, Western Sydney, in recent weeks.

The draw looks good value despite Adelaide holding early favouritism. It must be remembered that Wellington beat Adelaide 2-1 only a few weeks back at Eden Park in Auckland, which could have been seen as another “away” win for the team only one point adrift of the top six.

My tip: Draw

Brisbane Roar v Perth Glory
Suncorp Stadium Friday 7:00pm AEST

Brisbane Roar is still reeling after a surprising 1-0 defeat at the hands of last placed Melbourne Heart. The current slump is a concern for Mike Mulvey, despite his side’s four-point ladder lead. A return to winning form is vital to help secure the Premier's plate, a Grand Final birth and guaranteed entry into the AFC Champions League next season. On paper, Roar should easily account for Glory. Suncorp Stadium is not a happy hunting ground with only two wins in thirteen trips to “The Cauldron”. Two previous games between the sides have seen a solitary goal scored and the last match ended in a 0-0 stalemate at nib Stadium. The Glory attack is a massive concern for coach Kenny Lowe and 19 goals scored this season ranks as the worst in the A-League.

Considering the form line of Brisbane, Glory is big value outsiders in a two horse race. My money is with the Roar to return to their winning ways in front of a loyal home crowd.

My tip: Brisbane Roar 

Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC
Bluetongue Stadium Saturday 4:30pm AEST

The Mariners have it all ahead of them following a 2-0 defeat to FC Seoul in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday night. The heavy mid-week travel burden could see them struggle against a Sydney FC side coming into some form and holding down fourth spot. Sydney has strung two confidence-building wins together, whilst the Mariners are in the unlikely position of drifting out of the top six if they record their fifth A-League loss in as many weeks. One goal has split the teams in the past two meetings, with the Mariners prevailing on both occasions. 

I’m favouring the sky blues in a tightly fought clash, with the class of Del Perio to help get them over the line. For a bit of value a “Pick the Score “ of 1-0 in Sydney’s favour is great chance.

My tip: Sydney FC 

Melbourne Heart v Melbourne Victory
AAIM Park Saturday 6:45pm AEST

Momentum and confidence are sky high in the Heart dressing room at present. They are yet to drop a game in the past six appearances after going winless in 19 previous A-League outings. It’s been an amazing turnaround and no one would have predicted them going into Saturday’s derby as favourites. The Victory will have tired legs to deal with after taking on Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League mid-week. Harry Kewell looks set to re-join the Heart squad and form an appetising combination with giant Dutch import Orlando Engalaar which could trouble the Victory defensive line. On the face of it, Heart are deserved favourites but Victory’s classy display against an in-form Adelaide United last weekend has me swaying towards both teams sharing the points in this one.

A red card being awarded in these “all or nothing” derbies is always good value. Last time they met, Heart’s overzealous defender Patrick Kisnorbo received a red card 20 minutes in and the Round One derby saw six yellow cards handed out in the 0-0 draw.

My tip: Draw

Western Sydney Wanderers v Newcastle Jets
Pirtek Stadium Sunday 4:00pm AEST

The Wanderers are in sight of chasing down the Roar at the top of the table, if they dispose of the Jets at Parramatta on Sunday. By their own admission they aren’t setting the world on fire with their style of play, but maintaining the high ladder position at this time of the season is paramount. With only one home loss (Phoenix) this season it’s hard to imagine Newcastle running away with the three points in this one. The Jets are at least fresh, with the Wanderers having to host K-League side Ulsan Hyundai mid-week. This is the Wanderers first appearance in the Asian Champions League so it'll be interesting to see how they back-up.

The Jets have had some away success this season with wins over Adelaide, Victory and Roar (twice), but I think the Wanderers will have too much class and crowd support to get the job done. For a little added value, picking the half-time score of 1-0 to the Wanderers might pay handsomely.

My tip: Wanderers 

James Clark
TattsBet Brekky Show

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