One of the tightest A-League seasons in the competition’s short history enters its frantic run home with just 12 points between league leading Melbourne City and ninth placed Wellington.
Red hot Brisbane has double duty this weekend as they try and extend a seven-match unbeaten run.
They head to Melbourne on Sunday to face Melbourne City before hosting the Mariners on Wednesday night.
We are previewing all eight matches below and have found our best bets here.
Thursday 6 May, 7:00pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne Victory 1 – Macarthur 2
Macarthur’s finals hopes are hanging by a thread as their winless run reached five thanks to a scoreless draw in Perth on Saturday.
Unfortunately for them, Melbourne Victory look like they might be finding some confidence after a largely wretched season to date.
They have managed to take points in three of their last five and while they still look like a horribly disjointed team, they have periods of play where they look like a decent football team.
When it comes to finding a bet on this match, there is plenty of cause to go against both teams so I’ll do just that and take a draw.
Back the Draw @ $3.50
Friday 7 May, 7:30pm, Coopers Stadium
Adelaide 0 – Wellington 0
The A-League’s scheduling maestro has delivered another Friday night in Adelaide which can almost guarantee a chaotic fixture.
It was controversy aplenty when the Reds played out a scoreless draw with Western United last weekend while the Nix swam to a 0-0 draw in Brisbane.
For both of those sides, those sorts of scorelines are very much anomalies with Both Teams to Score hitting in 13 of Adelaide’s 19 games and 14 of Wellington’s 20.
On top of that, Over 2.5 Goals has hit in 13 of Adelaide’s games and 12 of Wellington’s, including four of their last six.
If it wasn’t obvious already, I’m backing goals aplenty in this match and with both sides looking to prepare themselves for a run into the finals, they won’t want to leave anything to chance.
Back Over 3.5 Goals @ $2.25
Saturday 8 May, 5:00pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Newcastle 1 – Sydney 1
Both of these teams are coming into this match on the back of last up defeats, although their overall similarities pretty much end there.
The Sky Blues can finish the weekend in second place by bettering Central Coast’s resultand they should be able to take care of their end of the bargain here.
As for Newcastle, even the most creative of wordsmiths are running out ways to encapsulate their struggles, so I’ll just keep it simple.
Their 11 game winless run contains just two highlights in that time, a draw at home to Perth and away to Macarthur.
Back Sydney to jump on them early and go on with it.
Back Sydney/Sydney HT/FT Double @ $2.63
Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday 8 May, 7:10pm, Bankwest Stadium
Western Sydney 5 – Western United 0
Fresh off their derby win last weekend, the Wanderers engage in a battle of the teams called “West” who are based on the Eastern Seaboard.
It will be a tough ask for the visitors here, who are coming off a draining loss in Brisbane on Wednesday night (on a pitch generously rated a heavy 10 no less).
That broke a four game unbeaten run for Mark Rudan’s side but they managed to come through largely unscathed.
Western Sydney won the first match between these teams this season and there is no doubt they needed the confidence boost the derby win would provide.
I’ll back an arm wrestle between these teams in a low scoring affair.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.25
Sunday 9 May, 4:00pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne City 3 – Brisbane 2
This is arguably the biggest match of the entire round with the competition’s two in form teams facing off.
Melbourne City’s red hot run continued out west on Wednesday night while the Roar slogged their way to a tough fought win over Western United.
That made it four wins from their last five and brought about a return to the top six, however it may be temporary if they become the latest victim of City’s ruthless attack.
Despite captain Tom Aldred missing the last few matches with a hamstring complaint, Brisbane’s resolute defence has continued to impress conceding just seven goals in their last nine matches.
I can’t bring myself to back against City, however their head to head price is far too short to back in but there is value in the unders market.
The last two matches between these teams have finished 1-0 in favour of Melbourne City and I’ll back another tight fought tussle.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ $2.45
Sunday 9 May, 6:10pm, HBF Park
Perth 2 – Melbourne Victory 1
For a brief period on Wednesday evening, it looked like Perth would be bringing themselves out of the doldrums before City kicked into gear.
If they can capitalise on a fast start against the Victory in this fixture they are a great chance to end their six match winless run.
When these teams met on Australia Day it was a rare high point for the Melburnians as they secured their first win of the season.
Their backline still has far too many issues to feel good about so I’ll back Perth to win and score a few goals in the process.
Back Perth to Win & Over 2.5 Goals @ $2.15
Central Coast Mariners
Wednesday 12 May, 7:00pm, Moreton Daily Stadium
Brisbane 0 – Central Coast 0
Brisbane will return to the pitch just over 72 hours after suffering their first defeat in nearly two months.
Their seven-match unbeaten run was punctuated with a dominant 4-0 win over the Mariners two weeks ago and there is no reason to back against the home side here.
With that victory, the Roar extended their A-League unbeaten run against Central Coast to an astonishing 19 matches, winning the last five and 15 total during that run.
Perhaps the only reason the Mariners are being given a hope in our market is that the Roar have to be feeling the pinch of playing their fifth game in 14 days.
It’s not enough to swing my tip, Roar to win and do it in style.
Back Brisbane to Win @ $2.10
Wednesday 12 May, 9:20pm, HBF Park
Perth 3 – Western United 0
Things will not get any easier for Western United coming off a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Western United on the weekend.
Perth made life tougher than it needed to be in a 2-1 win over a 10-man Melbourne Victory but on the back of a six match losing streak, any result will do.
With Western United one of the sides Perth needs to run down to qualify for the finals, this is a six pointer with huge implications heading into the final few weeks of the regular season.
Even though the head to head price on the Glory is quite generous given Western United’s struggles, I’ll go aggressive and back the hosts to come away with a big win as they gear up for a busy run home.
Back Perth to Win -1 Goal @ $4.25
There’s just 10 rounds to go in the A-League season and it’s Sydney FC’s title to lose.
Behind the Sky Blues, however, is a madcap scramble for finals positioning with just five points between second and sixth place.
While there is plenty to look forward to this weekend, the standout clash comes from Redcliffe where the rising Brisbane Roar take on Perth Glory as Robbie Fowler’s plan continues to take shape.
We’ve got previews and predictions for all five A-League Round 20 matches right here so read on to see who we are backing.
Friday 21 February, 5:15pm, Sky Stadium
Wellington 2 – Western United 0
Over their last five matches, Wellington has been remarkably consistent, alternating between wins and losses like clockwork.
I’m backing that run to end here as they take on a Western United side that has scored three goals in its last four matches, all of which came in their 4-3 defeat to Adelaide.
One reason the Nix have been able to establish themselves as a finals contender once again is their impressive home form with five wins and a draw from their last six matches as the home team.
While Western United did pick up a win in Wellington in Round 1, I can’t see that being repeated here as the A-League’s new side’s struggles continue.
Back Wellington to Win @ $1.63
Western Sydney Wanderers
Friday 21 February, 7:30pm, Bankwest Stadium
Western Sydney 5 – Adelaide 2
Outside of their blip in Brisbane, Adelaide got things back on track with a comfortable win against the Mariners last weekend thanks to goals from George Blackwood and 15-year-old Mohamed Toure.
For some reason they are outsiders as they travel to Paramatta to take on a struggling Wanderers side.
Having only played twice in the past month thanks to a bye and a rained out fixture, they should have been fresh against the Jets and failed to impress.
There is no reason to expect the Wanderers will be able to pull off another upset over Adelaide having done that in late December – they are badly out of form and in need of an overhaul.
Adelaide has won four of its last five and it’s worth backing the hot hand even though they are underdogs.
Back Adelaide to Win @ $2.75
Saturday 22 February, 5:00pm, Dolphin Stadium
Brisbane 1 – Perth 1
In Round One we saw two evenly matched sides cancel one another out and now they are two of the most in form teams heading into the run home.
The Roar are taking this game about 40 minutes up the road to Redcliffe where they as a club have an indifferent record.
November’s win at Dolphin Stadium was their first competitive victory at the venue having lost both FFA Cup ties played there.
With four wins from their last five Robbie Fowler’s side has to like their chances of climbing further up the ladder with a win here, but Perth will be ready to put in a tough performance.
While I do give a slight edge to Brisbane here, I just can’t split these teams and I’ll back a draw instead.
Back the Draw @ $3.40
Saturday 22 February, 7:30pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Newcastle 1 – Melbourne Victory 1
While Saturday’s first game features two sides that are seemingly destined for finals, this one is made up of two cellar dwellers that need a miracle or two to sneak into the top six.
The Jets have started to show some signs of life after the departure of Ernie Merrick and took a point off Western Sydney last week, while the Victory are winless in their last five with just a solitary draw in Perth during that time.
When these sides met in Round 13, the Victory put on a performance to remember, cruising to a 4-0 win. But with the Asian Champions League seemingly all they have left, there is no guarantee they will be at or near 100% for this fixture.
This is another game between two sides that are probably on a similar path to one another at the moment and the draw is offering some pretty good value.
Back the Draw @ $3.50
Central Coast Mariners
Sunday 23 February, 4:00pm, Central Coast Stadium
Central Coast 0 – Sydney FC 3
The only reason you need to pause and have a second thought about backing Sydney to win this one is the fact they are backing up from the Asian Champions League.
Then you remember that they are clear on top of the table, looking to claim the Premiers Plate in as short a time as possible and turn their focus to the finals and their continental commitments.
In the interests of risk aversion, I won’t try and take anything overly fancy with this and just back Sydney outright even at a fairly short price.
Central Coast is in shocking form and couldn’t buy a win right now, but I can see them pushing Sydney here, especially if the league leaders are below par but I’ll back the better side to pick up the win.
Back Sydney to Win @ $1.65
Eight weeks remain in the A-League and Perth are possibly five wins away from their maiden piece of A-League silverware.
The Glory have to wait until the end of Round 20 of the A-League to play but they get the chance to take in what looks like it will be the match of the round in the Melbourne Derby.
City claimed honours in the opening round before a late Dario Vidosic header stole a point for the “light” blue part of Melbourne in the Pre-Christmas meeting.
We have previewed the Melbourne Derby and the other four A-League matches this weekend right here!
Central Coast Mariners
Friday 22 February, 7:50pm, Central Coast Stadium
Central Coast 3 – Brisbane 5
It’s last hosting second last on the Central Coast to kick off Round 20 of the A-League.
For these two teams the focus for their final eight matches is to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.
Brisbane has never claimed that dubious honour and the Mariners are looking to avoid their second straight and third in the last four seasons.
These sides have played out 1-1 draws when they faced off in Round 1 and Round 14 and another result like that is certainly on the cards here.
It’s hard to back either of these sides to pick up a win here considering they have combined for 25 losses from 38 games played this season so I’m going to steer clear of the head to head market.
Saturday 23 February, 5:35pm, Campbelltown Stadium
Wellington 0 – Sydney FC 1
Despite this game being played just south of Sydney, Wellington is the home side for this one with the Cake Tin otherwise occupied.
Even with both sides set to play finals football this season, neither side brings a great amount of form into this clash.
Wellington has won just one of its last five and has not scored more than one goal in a game since January 20.
Sydney on the other hand has lost away to Brisbane and drawn at home to Central Coast in the last two weeks and any Premiership ambitions are disappearing.
The away side has won both meetings between these teams and if either team plays to its potential here they should be able to win this one.
With back to back draws and their January signings coming together nicely, the Phoenix are at good value for a “home” win here.
Back Wellington to Win @ $3.30
Saturday 23 February, 7:50pm, Marvel Stadium
Melbourne Victory 1 – Melbourne City 1
At some point the Victory will have their full compliment of players fit and firing, but they are doing a good enough job weathering the storm.
Having picked up a tough point at Eden Park last Friday, their attention now turns to local rivals Melbourne City, who they have lost to and drawn with so far this season.
This has all been in spite of their key players suffering various absences through injury and suspension but if the early reports hold true, the Victory’s front line could be fit(-ish) and firing for this one.
That does not bode well for a City side bereft of confidence but at least they do seem to be able to get themselves up for a game of this magnitude.
While there is a gulf in class between the two sides the occasion of the derby should level things out but you have to back the better side to win here.
Back Melbourne Victory to Win @ $2.00
Sunday 24 February, 5:00pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Newcastle 0 – Adelaide 0
Newcastle and Adelaide have played out two tight clashes this season and there’s no reason to think this one should be any different.
There was a 1-1 draw in Round 2 followed by a 2-1 Adelaide win in Round 10 and the market suggests this one could be a pretty tight game.
Newcastle looks like it might have rediscovered its scoring touch with nine goals in the last three games, which is over a third of what they have tallied lately.
Adelaide have been quite vulnerable as of late, keeping just one clean sheet in its last seven games and giving up three goals to Brisbane and Western Sydney as well.
When it comes to form, the Jets are looking like the stronger side and are worth a play as a home underdog.
Back Newcastle to Win @ $2.70
Western Sydney Wanderers
Sunday 24 February, 7:00pm, Spotless Stadium
Western Sydney 1 – Perth 1
The Wanderers suddenly looked a lot stronger last week when they beat Adelaide in Adelaide but they face the best team in the competition in Perth Glory, fresh off a rampant 4-0 win themselves.
Perth won a wild encounter out west the last time these teams met with the Wanderers squandering 2-0 and 3-1 leads in the final 20 minutes.
Add in a four game winning streak for the Glory and this game looks like it might just be another step closer to the Premiers Plate, even with the Wanderers starting to look better as of late.
It would be good for Perth to be at slightly longer odds here but it shouldn’t be too surprising that they are under even money, the Glory are the better side and should win this one.
Back Perth to Win @ $1.91
As Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC begin their Asian Champions League campaigns next week, the A-League moves into Round 20, the first of two split rounds for the competition.
Friday night sees the Victory hosting Brisbane Roar before they take on Ulsan Hyundai mid next week and Sydney FC have an away date with Melbourne City before returning home to face Suwon Bluewings.
Sunday evening has a catch up fixture with the postponed Round 7 match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix.
The remaining fixtures are on next weekend with three more games as the Wanderers host Newcastle and the Phoenix host another Distance Derby against Perth before Adelaide and Central Coast close out the round.
Here are our A-League betting previews and recommended plays for the upcoming contests.
Friday 9 February, 7:50pm, AAMI Park
Just going off the last two games, you might think that the Victory are in trouble with back to back losses.
On closer examination they were beaten by the top two teams in the league and are rightfully expected to bounce back against the Brisbane Roar.
In the two meetings so far, the Victory won at Suncorp in December which was preceded by a 1-1 draw at Etihad.
Brisbane are starting to return to full health however their run for a finals spot took a slight step back with a loss to Melbourne City last week.
While the Roar could give the Victory some trouble, it just has not clicked for them this year and it will be back to back losses as the home side get three much needed points before their schedule gets busier.
Back Melbourne Victory to Win @ $1.70
Saturday 10 February, 7:50pm, AAMI Park
Any concerns about a form slump are well and truly gone for Sydney with a clinical demolition of Wellington last week.
City escaped Brisbane with all three points but if they manage to give the Sky Blues as many opportunities as they did the week before, you would bank on them to capitalise.
Sydney are looking to make it three from three against City this season having won 1-0 in November and 3-1 in December.
Sitting nine points clear at the top of the league with eight games to go, Sydney have built a nice margin for error heading into their Champions League campaign.
City are comfortably clear in third place but will not be able to close this gap as Sydney shut up shop.
This is one of those rare times when Sydney are not ridiculously short favourites so look to take advantage of that value here.
Back Sydney FC to Win @ 2.00
[ROUND 7 RESCHEDULED MATCH]
Western Sydney Wanderers
Sunday 11 February, 7:00pm, ANZ Stadium
The temptation here is to just go back and copy the preview written in December but it’s safe to say these sides are just a little bit different than when they were originally supposed to meet.
This is the game many fans have been waiting for just because it will get rid of the game in hand for the Wanderers and Phoenix and bring the table back level.
These sides met four weeks ago in Wellington for a 1-1 draw thanks to two cracking strikes.
If Western Sydney are going to score, chances are it will be in the first half with all bar three of their goals scored coming before the intermission.
Neither side is in a great run of form, but the Wanderers should be able to shade it at home.
Back the Western Sydney Wanderers to Win @ $2.00
Western Sydney Wanderers
Friday 16 November, 7:50pm, Spotless Stadium
Western Sydney have just five days to get ready for this encounter while the Jets are fresh after a weekend off thanks to the split round.
The Wanderers do have the comfort of knowing they blasted the Phoenix off the park in a second half rampage Sunday, but the second placed Jets are going to be a much tougher task.
Just before Christmas the Jets gave the Wanderers a 4-0 hammering and the spoils were shared in October.
Newcastle are scoring freely this year averaging over two goals per game while the Wanderers are struggling to find the net with any regularity.
I like the value on offer with Newcastle here as the Wanderers have not won three in a row yet this season.
Back Newcastle to Win @ $2.40
Saturday 17 February, 5:35pm, Westpac Stadium
The third and final distance derby of this season and Wellington will be glad to be back home after a rough round trip to Sydney where they copped back to back 4-0 losses.
Their last goal came on January 20 with Roy Krishna’s 58th minute score against Newcastle.
When these sides met in Wellington last November it was Phoenix rampage with Perth looking lost at sea in a 5-2 win for the home side.
Perth have scored multiple goals in three of their last four matches unfortunately for them they have won just one of those.
There should be goals in this game as both sides look for a win to help their case to avoid the wooden spoon.
Even so, these sides do not look like they will be split and instead take a score draw here.
Back Both Teams to Score and a Draw @ $4.20
Central Coast Mariners
Saturday 17 February, 7:50pm, Coopers Stadium
Adelaide’s thumping at the hands of Melbourne City a few weeks ago appears to be a blip on the radar as they have bounced back with two straight wins.
They have not had many home games but they do enjoy playing at Coopers Stadium with two wins and a draw from their last four.
It feels like it gets mentioned a lot now but the Mariners are winless in over two months and their last two games have been back to back 2-1 losses.
They have been able to scrap a draw in three of their last four away games however their Boxing Day visit to Adelaide produced a disappointing 1-0 loss where they looked devoid of options in attack.
With Adelaide’s form, they seem the likely option to win here so back that outcome.
Back Adelaide to Win @ $1.83
Week 20 of the A-League gets underway on Friday night when Adelaide United host the Newcastle Jets in a replay of the first game ever played in the A-League.
Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers meet in another edition of their incredibly heated rivalry on Saturday night, while the Brisbane Roar travel to Perth for a clash with the Glory in the second leg of the double-header.
The action concludes on Sunday afternoon when the Central Coast Mariners host the Melbourne Victory.
Friday 17 February, 6:50pm, Coopers Stadium
Adelaide United 1 - Newcastle Jets 0
Adelaide United were absolutely flogged by the Perth Glory last weekend, but they will still go into this clash with the Newcastle Jets as favourites.
It really has been a season to forget for Adelaide United and they have now won just five of their past 12 games as home favourites for a clear loss.
Newcastle took a deserved point from their Monday night clash with the Melbourne Victory and they continue to play some solid football.
The Jets have won only two of their past eight games as away underdogs, but their recent form has been substantially better than that.
Newcastle still have plenty to play for and they can account for an Adelaide United side that has given up on this season.
Back Newcastle Jets To Win @ $2.90
Friday 18 February, 4:35pm, Westpac Stadium
Wellington Phoenix 1 - Melbourne City 5
This is a crucial clash between two sides that have really struggled in the past month.
Melbourne City have won just one of their past five games, but they will still go into this clash as favourites.
Winning away from home has been easier said than done for Melbourne City and they have won just one of their past seven games as away favourites.
Wellington have not won in over a month and they were simply no match for the rampant Sydney FC last weekend.
The Phoenix have won only two of their past eight games as home underdogs and they really have been a tough side to trust from a betting standpoint this season.
This is a game that the market looks to have got just about right and I am happy to stay out from a betting standpoint.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday 18 February, 6:50pm, ANZ Stadium
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 - Sydney FC 0
This is the third Sydney Derby of the season and is clearly the highlight of the round in the A-League this weekend.
Sydney FC won the first clash of the season in emphatic fashion, but it was a far closer contest when they squared-off a month ago.
It is Sydney FC that will start this clash as clear favourites and they really have been excellent this season.
Just when you think they are starting to look vulnerable they produce a stellar performance and I’ve just about given up taking them on.
It has been several years since the Western Sydney Wanderers won a Sydney Derby and they were very poor against the Central Coast Mariners.
Western Sydney have struggled for consistency this season and it is highly unlikely that they will be able to end their Sydney Derby losing streak.
Back Sydney FC To Win @ $2
Saturday 18 February, 9:00pm, NIB Stadium
Perth Glory 2 - Brisbane Roar 2
Perth Glory have really found some form in 2017 and this is a big test of exactly where they are at this season.
Perth produced one of their best performances of the season to claim a dominant 5-0 victory over Adelaide United last week and they have won three of their past four games.
The Glory have been particularly tough to beat in front of their home fans and they have won six of their past nine games as home favourites for a clear profit.
Consistency has been a problem for the Brisbane Roar in recent weeks – they were excellent in the Asian Champions League, but a shade disappointing against Melbourne City.
Brisbane have won just one of their past nine games as away underdogs for a clear loss and winning away from home has proven to be a real issue.
I have been fairly taken with the way that Perth have played in the past month and they are good value to win again against the Brisbane Roar.
Back Perth Glory To Win @ $2.50
Central Coast Mariners
Sunday 19 February, 4:00pm, Central Coast Stadium
Central Coast Mariners 0 - Melbourne Victory 3
The Central Coast Mariners have recorded three wins on the trot, but it is the Melbourne Victory that will still start this clash as dominant favourites.
Melbourne were unable to break down the Newcastle Jets on Monday night and it will be interesting to see how they fare against a much-improved Central Coast outfit.
The Victory have won four of their past seven games as home favourites for a clear profit and their overall record against the Central Coast Mariners is outstanding.
Central Coast have now beaten Perth, Adelaide and Western Sydney in consecutive weeks and they will go into this clash with a great deal of confidence.
The Mariners have now won three of their past 12 games as home underdogs for a small loss, but their recent record is much better than that.
This is another game that the market has gotten right, but it will be interesting to see just how much Central Coast have improved.