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A-League featured betting preview: Melbourne City (5-6-6, 22 pts) v Adelaide United (10-3-5, 33 pts); AAMI Park, Melbourne, Vic; Friday, February 27, 7.40pm
The A-League competition ticks into the final third of the home and away season tonight as John van ’t Schip’s finals contending Melbourne City host title challengers Adelaide United to kick-off round 19. Despite some inconsistent form in recent weeks, the Reds can actually climb above Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory, at least until Saturday, if they beat City at AAMI Park. Last week Josep Gombau’s men left it late to get past the Western Sydney Wanderers, sealing a 2-1 win in injury time. And United made the trip east without Newcastle Jets-bound centre-back Nigel Boogaard.
An ankle injury to Osama Malik is also likely to keep him sidelined for the next month. Adelaide fans are anxious to see the versatile Malik sign a new deal (along with Michael Marrone, Isaias, Marcelo Carrusca and Sergio Cirio) to remain with the club. Adelaide are the league’s second highest scorers after Victory, with an array of attacking talent – Bruce Djite and Sergio Cirio were the men on target in the win over the Wanderers, while Pablo Sanchez and Awer Mabil have also netted in recent weeks.
Standing in Adelaide’s way are the inconsistent Melbourne City, who have drawn their last two matches 0-0. Van ’t Schip has lost veteran forward Damien Duff for the rest of the season, while several other players (Robbie Wielaert, Mate Dugandzic, Ben Garrucio, James Brown and Jacob Melling) are all out, leaving the coach short of bodies to choose from as they seek to keep pace with the top six. When City thrashed the Newcastle Jets 5-2 in December, with Robert Koren bagging a hat-trick, some optimistic supporters might have hoped a free-scoring second half of the season was set to follow.
Instead Van ’t Schip has watched his players claim just one goal in their last five matches and none in the past three. The arrival of striker Josh Kennedy as domestic marquee hasn’t yielded a return yet and with Dugandzic and Duff out and Iain Ramsay badly out of form, there are limited options to supply the veteran Socceroo. Adelaide have been victorious in four of their six visits to Melbourne City. Marcelo Carrusca has scored in three of his last four appearances against Melbourne City.
Confirmed bet (updated Saturday, February 28, 4pm AEDT)
Melbourne City v Adelaide United WIN (one unit @ $2.53) – City have gone six games without victory over the Reds, dating back to a 2-0 triumph at AAMI Park on January 18, 2013. The goal drought can’t go on forever, and the absence of Malik and Boogaard could make their job slightly easier. However, Adelaide have simply too much at stake and too much talent to come unstuck in here. Three points in this match-up will put the onus squarely on Glory and Victory to respond.
Perth Glory WIN v Brisbane Roar (one unit @ $2.00) – the equation is simple – beat Brisbane Roar at home and Kenny Lowe’s side will stay top of the ladder. Last weekend, Perth hardly impressed in 0-0 draw against Melbourne City. The Glory have conceded eight goals in their last three home matches after allowing just in six in their previous games in Perth. The Glory have won just one of their past six clashes with Brisbane, though this was the most recent home against the Queenslanders. But we’re sticking with the home side here – Brisbane had their own woes in front of goal on Wednesday, failing to break down 10-man Beijing Guoan before conceding in injury time to lose 1-0 at home in their AFC Champions League group stage opener. Throw in a long flight to the west and this looks a tough spot for the Roar.
Most recent results: 1-0-1, -0.4 units; overall season record: 7-0-6, +3.75 units
Newcastle Jets v Western Sydney Wanderers WIN (one unit @ $2.30) LOSE (1-1)
Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory BTS (one unit @ $1.60) WIN (3-3)
• Selections are listed in three categories – 1) Suggested (likely bet but yet to be finalised); 2) Confirmed (locked in at the price listed); and 3) Leans (tips, but not recommended bets); all times quoted are Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT); prices with thanks to William Hill (except where markets are not available), correct at time of publication. Results/comments on today’s games/races will follow in the next post.