It wouldn’t be the A-League if the main focus of Round 1 was something other than the players on the pitch.
VAR intervention played a big role in just about every game, although there can’t be a whole lot of complaints about the final decisions they reached.
It shouldn’t take away from what was a really entertaining return for Australia’s football competition with goals, debuts and drama aplenty.
The league’s newest club Western United picked up its first win in Wellington and now gets its first home game, in its temporary stadium in Geelong.
That’s just one of five matches coming up this weekend and we’ve got previews for all of them here.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Friday 18 October, 7:30pm, Marvel Stadium
Melbourne Victory 1 – Western Sydney 2
The less said about the Victory’s Round 1 draw the better, and even this sentence is probably too much.
They welcome the rejuvenated Wanderers to Marvel Stadium this weekend hoping that things go a lot smoother in the attacking third than they did in the Derby.
Despite coming away with a win over the Mariners, Western Sydney weren’t exactly convincing in that performance and if Victory are afforded a similar number of opportunities, you would expect the likes of Ola Toivonen and Andrew Nabbout to take full advantage of them.
This could very easily turn into an open ended, back and forth contest between two sides with plenty of goals in them.
Obviously losing Radoslaw Majewski has impacted the way the Wanderers play
Look for quite a few goals, in this one and if you back both teams to score, over 3.5 goals does offer quite a bit of value, as does backing against the draw in the double chance market.
SGM: Victory/Wanderers Double Chance, Both Teams to Score, Over 3.5 Goals @ $3.42
Saturday 19 October, 5:00pm, GMHBA Stadium
Western United 1 – Perth 1
The A-League’s newest side scored its first goal, picked up its first win and secured its first clean sheet over in Wellington, now it gets its first home game this weekend.
Excluding the first season where every club was making its debut, only Gold Coast United managed to win its first A-League match.
Perth ran out of steam against Brisbane and were punished with a very late goal to drop two points, although there were more than enough signs for optimism that they will be a force again this season.
It will be a very weird atmosphere in Geelong as Western United settle into their temporary accommodation and it may be worth treating this as a neutral venue, at least until we see if there’s any sort of tangible advantage either way.
With Perth having to travel across country after such a disappointing end to last week’s match, it would not be at all surprising to see a performance a bit below par.
Back the Draw @ $3.30
Central Coast Mariners
Saturday 19 October, 7:30pm, Central Coast Stadium
Central Coast 1 – Newcastle 1
The good news for the featured derby clash of round two, it won’t be any less entertaining than last week’s one.
The Mariners and Jets face off in the 48th A-League edition of the M3 Derby and the renewed confidence in Gosford has Central Coast feeling like they could beat the Jets in back to back meetings for the first time since October 2014.
We don’t have a read on the Jets this season as they were the unlucky club to receive the Round 1 bye but they did go on a decent FFA Cup run.
At this point, the Mariners are playing way better than a $4.00 outsider in this game so I’ll happily go for the value on offer and take them to win outright.
Back the Mariners to Win @ $4.00
Sunday 20 October, 4:00pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne City 2 – Adelaide 1
No club will be happier with the lack of international duty this weekend than Melbourne City.
Above all else, they get their leading striker Jamie Maclaren back after scoring a hat-trick against Nepal in Canberra.
That alone makes them much more potent in attack compared to the Derby when they started Lachlan Wales up top.
Adelaide showed their own firepower scoring two against Sydney but the questions about their backline came through conceding three and if City get going, they should be able to at least match that tally of goals.
Back Melbourne City to Win @ $2.12
Sunday 20 October, 6:00pm, Leichhardt Oval
Sydney FC 2 – Wellington 1
Sydney rode its luck just a bit in Round 1 but still came away with all three points and now the champions are back at home.
Their marksman Adam Le Fondre got off the mark with a brace against Adelaide and you have to like him to add to his tally in this one and Sydney to add another three points to their total as well.
Last season it took until the third meeting between these clubs for Le Fondre to get off the mark but that doesn’t seem likely this season.
There will be no repeat of the Round 7 ambush by the then Mark Rudan coached side where the Nix stunned Sydney 3-1.
This time around, the Sky Blues should pull off a comfortable win with Wellington struggling to generate much going forward.
SGM: Sydney FC to Win, Over 2.5 Goals & Adam LeFondre Anytime Goalscorer
After a wild opening weekend where a couple of guys in a bunker dominated headlines despite some exciting action on the pitch.
After Melbourne had it’s first A-League derby of the season in round 1, it’s Sydney’s turn as the two sides meet for a rematch of their FFA Cup Semi-Final at the SCG.
Wellington also get a chance to back up their opening weekend win with a trip to Brisbane and Mark Rudan’s side will be eager to make it two from two.
Read on for our preview of all five A-League matches this weekend and our Same Game Multis for each contest.
Friday 26 October, 7:50pm, Coopers Stadium
Adelaide 1 – Newcastle 1
If Round 1 is anything to go by then Newcastle might be one of the more vulnerable sides in the competition as they try to back up last season’s remarkable effort.
Adelaide held their own against Sydney and will want to build on that performance heading into the FFA Cup Final midweek.
With the maximum possible turnaround between this game and the Cup Final, Adelaide should be able to put out a full strength squad.
This has the makings of a low scoring match with Adelaide’s depth on the bench being the difference here.
Back Adelaide to Win @ $2.10
SGM: Adelaide Win, Under 2.5 Goals, Craig Goodwin Anytime Goalscorer
Central Coast Mariners
Saturday 27 October, 5:35pm, Central Coast Stadium
Central Coast 1 – Melbourne City 1
It was hard not to be impressed with Central Coast’s organisation and drive when they picked up a point away from home against Brisbane.
That being said they allowed the Roar a whole lot of scoring chances and if they give the Melbourne City front line the same opportunities they are likely to be punished.
City on the other hand are riding high after their derby win and come into this game as clear favourites.
As long as they come into this game with the right approach it is hard to see them doing anything other than winning this one.
Back Melbourne City to Win @ $1.80
SGM: City Win, Over 3.5 Goals, Bruno Fornaroli Anytime Goalscorer
Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday 27 October, 7:50pm, Sydney Cricket Ground
Sydney 2 – Western Sydney 0
Less than a month after Sydney FC demolished their cross-town rivals in the FFA Cup Semi Final they meet again in the league.
These derbies have not been pleasant experiences for Western Sydney with eight losses and four draws from the last 13 meetings.
Including the FFA Cup Semi Final, the last four matches have finished with a combined score of 13-3 against them with the last three all going Sydney FC’s way.
Backing the Wanderers does have some appeal with the way they played in Perth last weekend however Sydney is too good to pass up at this price with the history they have on their side.
Back the Sydney FC to Win @ $1.75
SGM: Sydney Win, Over 2.5 Goals, Adam LeFondre Anytime Goalscorer
Sunday 28 October, 5:00pm, Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane 0 – Wellington 0
Meetings between these sides were nothing if not consistent last season with all three matches ending in a draw.
Much like last season Brisbane will be expecting to come away with all three points however Wellington will not be pushovers, as indicated by their opening round win.
The Roar’s midfield were excellent in creating chances for Adam Taggart last week and the Roar striker spurned many of those.
If they can give him a similar number of opportunities it is reasonable to expect him to wind up with more than just the one he scored.
Back the Roar to come away with the win here but Wellington will give them a few scares going forward as well.
Back Brisbane to Win @ $1.75
SGM: Brisbane to Win, Brisbane to Score Over 2.5 Goals, Wellington to Score Over 0.5 Goals
Sunday 28 October, 7:00pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne Victory 2 – Perth 3
As far as A-League rivalries go… Perth and Melbourne Victory is one of them.
Victory make their return to their traditional home ground of AAMI Park against a Perth side that has struggled at this venue.
In the eight games they have played there, they have won just once back in 2013.
With the Victory still breaking in a handful of new players and Tony Popovic on the other sideline, this has the makings of a low scoring game, even moreso if Ola Toivonen is once again out of action.
With that in mind Victory have the difference makers in their squad to create that one key opening and come away with a win here.
Back Melbourne Victory to Win @ $1.75
SGM: Melbourne Victory to Win, Under 2.5 Goals, James Troisi Anytime Goalscorer
As is always the case, the A-League Round 2 provides us with the first full round of competition between the sides as those that missed the first slate of games due to international commitments return to action.
The first Melbourne Derby headlines this weekend’s fixtures, while surprise packets the Newcastle Jets get to try and prove there was no mirage.
Friday 13 October, 7:50pm, Suncorp Stadium
Neither side here will be overly happy with their displays in the opening round as the Roar went down to City 2-0 and Adelaide drew in Wellington when they felt like they perhaps should have won.
The visitors here have a big blow to their defensive stocks as Taylor Regan is expected to be out for three months with an injury that should help out Brisbane’s Massimo Maccarone. The Roar will welcome back Brett Holman after he missed the opening game with a calf injury.
Traditionally, the Roar have done well in their first game at Suncorp but Adelaide have played the spoiler on two occasions including a 2-1 upset just three years ago.
Having had a game together, I like the Roar’s chances to play much better than they did last week and come away with a win here.
Back Brisbane Roar to win @ $2.25
Western Sydney Wanderers
Central Coast Mariners
Saturday 14 October, 5:35pm, Spotless Stadium
The Wanderers imports impressed in their win over Perth to start the season and they get to back it up against a team full of exciting prospects coming off a rough derby loss in the Central Coast Mariners.
While still looking for a full time coach, the Wanderers have to be happy with how things started.
The Mariners will feel as though they were better than their 5-1 loss to the Newcastle Jets, especially given how well they started that game.
For them a draw would be good progress, however the Wanderers have a bit too much firepower to back against them and the Mariners are still finding themselves.
Unfortunately there just isn’t any value in taking the Wanderers at the moment so this one might be a stay away for now.
Saturday 13 October, 7:50pm, Etihad Stadium
Easily the match which will have the most hype around it as the Victory and City face off for the twenty-fourth time.
The Victory won the last two matches 2-1 with the third game proving to be highly entertaining with two late goals swinging the tie to the navy blue part of Melbourne.
They will also be boosted by the return of multiple internationals including Mark Milligan, James Troisi and Kosta Barbarouses, who will give them much more of an attacking spark.
City were lead by Luke Brattan in their opening game but they are looking a lot further ahead than Victory, especially with the defensive group of Bart Schenkeveld and Michael Jakobsen.
Even then the Victory should be able to shade this game with possibly the most talented starting eleven in the competition.
Back Victory to Win @ $2.25
Sunday 15 October, 5:00pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
The surprise packets of Round 1 were the Newcastle Jets who put five past the Central Coast Mariners in their local derby.
They will welcome a Perth side that has plenty of attacking firepower on their own but a few vulnerabilities at the back.
The Jets should have plenty of chances to get some goals on the board and I think they should be able to handle a Perth side, which does not travel all that well.
Back Both Teams to Score and Newcastle Jets to Win @ $3.50
Sunday 15 October, 7:00pm, Allianz Stadium
This looms as a sneaky tough game for Sydney despite Wellington’s poor away form as they will be backing up from their FFA Cup semi-final win over South Melbourne on Wednesday night.
Having played essentially his strongest team, it will be interesting to see what changes Graham Arnold makes.
The twin playmakers of Milos Ninkovic and Adrian Mierzejewski should back up and be able to guide Sydney over the line but at such short odds, it is not a play to make.
The A-League season could not have got off to a more exciting start and there were plenty of thrilling fixtures in the opening round of the season.
The Western Sydney Wanderers were embarrassed by Sydney FC in the Sydney Derby last weekend and face another tough test against Adelaide United on Friday night before Sydney FC host Central Coast on Saturday afternoon.
The highlight of the weekend is the Melbourne Derby between Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City on Saturdaym while the round concludes with a Sunday double-header.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Friday 14 October, 7:50pm, Hindmarsh Stadium
Adelaide United 1 - Western Sydney Wanderers 2
Both these teams made disappointing starts to the A-League season and will be keen to bounce back.
Adelaide United were unable to start their title defence with a victory over the Newcastle Jets, but they will still start this clash as clear favourites.
The Reds were able to turn Hindmarsh Stadium into a fortress last season and they have won nine of their past 14 games as home favourites for a healthy profit.
Western Sydney could hardly have been more disappointing against Sydney FC and it could be a long season if they do not improve from that effort.
The Wanderers have won just one of their past seven games as away underdogs for a clear loss and they have an extremely poor record in Adelaide.
Adelaide should prove too classy for this Western Sydney outfit and they are a safe bet to get the job done at a quote of $1.95.
Back Adelaide United To Win @ $1.95
Central Coast Mariners
Saturday 15 October, 5:35pm, Sydney Football Stadium
Sydney FC 4 - Central Coast Mariners 0
Sydney FC and the Central Coast Mariners were two of the most impressive sides in the opening round of the A-League season.
Sydney FC put on a scintillating football performance against Western Sydney to claim the three points and it is no surprise that they will go into this clash as dominant favourites.
They have generally struggled as home favourites in the past 12 months and they have won just four of their past 11 games in this scenario, which makes it tough to get them as short as their current price.
Central Coast came back from three goals down to record a remarkable come from behind victory against the Perth Glory and they are sure to take plenty of confidence from that effort.
In saying that, Central Coast have still won just one of their past 14 games as away underdogs and they face a tough assignment against a firing Sydney FC.
There really is little value available for this clash and I am more than happy to stay out from a betting perspective.
Saturday 15 October, 7:50pm, Etihad Stadium
Melbourne Victory 1 - Melbourne City 4
This is easily the game of the weekend and will be an interesting test of where both these teams stand at this stage of the season.
There is very little between these two sides in betting, but it is the Melbourne Victory that are narrow favourites following their opening round draw against the Brisbane Roar.
It is fair to say that the Victory were extremely unlucky not to come away with the three points and they will take confidence from the fact that they have won three of their five meetings with Melbourne City.
The Victory have won nine of their past 20 games as favourites for a loss and they can often prove tough to trust as the punter’s elect.
It is set to be an historic moment for football in Australia on Saturday as Tim Cahill looks set to make his A-League debut for Melbourne City.
Melbourne City started the season with a polished performance against Wellington and they should only improve with the return of their Socceroors.
They have won three of their past ten games as underdogs for a narrow loss, but there is genuine value at their current price of $2.70.
Back Melbourne City To Win @ $2.70
Sunday 16 October, 5:00pm, Hunter Stadium
Newcastle Jets 4 - Brisbane Roar 0
The Newcastle Jets showed plenty of toughness to come away from their season opener against Adelaide with a point and a similar effort will be required against the Brisbane Roar.
Newcastle will still go into this clash as clear underdogs, but they have generally outperformed expectations at home in recent season and they have taken at least a point from six of their past 12 games as home underdogs for a clear profit.
Brisbane left it typically late against the Melbourne Victory to come away with a point, but they will go into this clash without the suspended Matt McKay.
McKay is key to the Roar midfield and they have generally struggled with him out of the side, while they have won just one of their past five games as home favourites.
If Newcastle can replicate their round one effort they will be right in this clash and they are more than capable of recording an upset victory.
Back Newcastle Jets To Win @ $3.20
Sunday 16 October, 7:00pm, NIB Stadium
Perth Glory 2 - Wellington Phoenix 0
Perth Glory were expected to be legitimate Premiership contenders in the A-League this season, but if there round one performance is anything to go on it could be another disappointing season for Glory fans.
Perth were cruising at 3-0, but they conceded three second-half goals in a truly disastrous performance and gave away an excellent opportunity to come away with the three points.
The Glory will still go into this clash as clear favourites and they have won three of their past five games in this situation.
Wellington were slightly lacklustre against Melbourne City and they now face the longest road-trip in the A-League.
The Phoenix have proven surprisingly strong on the road in recent seasons and they have won three of their past 11 games as away underdogs.
Both these teams generally have no problems scoring goals and the over has saluted in 23 of the past 28 games played by these two sides.
Adding another goal adds plenty of value to the total goals betting market and I expect to see a goalfest this weekend.
Back Over 3.5 Goals @ $2.25