The wild and unpredictable A-League season has just four rounds remaining and the ladder remains as tight as can be.
While Melbourne City sits well clear on top of the table, nine sides remain in contention to finish in second place behind them and the exact makeup of the finals can take on a number of different complexions.
There are nine huge games in Round 21 including an F3 Derby between the Mariners and Jets plus the final edition of the Big Blue between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory.
Read on for our match previews and best bets below.
Thursday 13 May, 7:00pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne City 4 – Adelaide 1
Adelaide’s free scoring ways and leaky backline have been swapped out for a blunt attack but resolute defence in the last two weeks.
That newfound resilience at the back will be put to the test against a Melbourne City team that has won its last three matches, scoring three goals in each fixture.
Three of the last four meetings between these teams have been won by the Reds with a 2-0 result in early January the most recent fixture.
Quite a lot has changed for both of these sides since that match, including City conquering just about everyone in their way.
I’ll back that run to continue here as Adelaide’s defensive struggles come to the fore.
Back Melbourne City to Win -1 Goal @ $1.95
Friday 14 May, 7:00pm, Campbelltown Stadium
Macarthur 3 – Melbourne Victory 1
Melbourne Victory is back to its normal function this season and that is losing to anyone and everyone.
It is a great opportunity for Macarthur to consolidate their position in the race for the top six, who recorded a 2-1 win when these sides met just over a week ago.
There is no reason to expect a different result this time out and I will back the hosts to pick up all three points.
Back Macarthur to Win & Over 1.5 Goals @ $1.87
Saturday 15 May, 5:00pm, MARS Stadium
Western United 0 – Sydney FC 1
It’s all falling apart at the worst possible time for Western United and things will not get any easier taking on Sydney on the back of a draining trip to Perth.
As if that was not tough enough, it sounds like Sydney FC will be welcoming star striker Adam Le Fondre back into the mix to address their (relative) goal scoring woes.
Sydney’s local rivals the Wanderers dismantled Mark Rudan’s side 5-0 last weekend and a similar scoreline is absolutely on the cards if the Sky Blues get even close to full strength.
Back Sydney FC to Win @ $1.75
Central Coast Mariners
Saturday 15 May, 7:10pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Newcastle 0 – Central Coast 1
The local derby between Newcastle and Central Coast has produced some memorable, high stakes matches in the past, but there is not a lot riding on this one.
Newcastle is in dire straits with just three draws in their last 12 and the only reason they are being given something resembling a chance in this fixture is because the Mariners’ form has fallen off a cliff.
By the end of the weekend they could find themselves outside of the finals picture.
I don’t have overly high hopes for this contest and there is great value in backing a low scoring affair.
Three of the last four derbies have seen two or fewer goals and you can get a good price on that.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ $2.15
Sunday 16 May, 4:00pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne City 2 – Wellington Phoenix 2
You could forgive Wellington if their minds are elsewhere during this match, it is their final fixture before heading home to New Zealand.
Should they be firing for this match, they have a good chance of upsetting a City side playing on short rest after Thursday’s match.
I still like City to win outright however I’m going to pair that result in a Same Game Multi with Both Teams to Score, something that has hit in City’s four matches heading into Round 21.
SGM: City to Win & Both Teams to Score @ $2.43
Sunday 16 May, 6:10pm, Coopers Stadium
Adelaide 1 – Brisbane 0
Over the last five years, Adelaide and Brisbane have established one of the most underrated rivalries in the competition.
Most matches between these teams features a certain level of controversy, calamity and craziness.
When these sides met in Redcliffe earlier this year, it was a Roar demolition job however Adelaide is a much stronger side since that night.
Even with both sides looking very strong at the back, history says we are in a for a few goals and I’ll back that in this market.
Back Over 3.5 Goals @ $2.40
Western Sydney Wanderers
Sunday 16 May, 8:15pm, HBF Park
Perth 5 – Western Sydney 1
I’m all in on an upset in the for the final match of Sunday’s triple header as the Wanderers head west for the “Remember Tony Popovic” derby.
Perth’s frantic catch up schedule has to catch up with them at some point while the Wanderers appear to be finding form at the best possible time.
Not to mention the Glory running more cold than hot in recent weeks, plus a backline that has kept one clean sheet all season, this is an excellent chance for Western Sydney’s forward line to really make a statement here.
Take the value on the visitors.
Back Western Sydney to Win @ $2.85
Wednesday 19 May, 7:00pm, Nestrata Jubilee Stadium
Sydney FC 2 – Melbourne Victory 1
Sydney were well below par in their win over Western United on the weekend but you know they will be primed for this edition of the Big Blue.
A win would vault them into second place, putting them in the drivers seat for another home Semi Final.
Combine that with the Victory’s struggles and if Sydney are on form, they could put up a tennis score here.
A one goal handicap offers enough value for me to jump on as the Sky Blues make it eight wins in a row against their southern rivals.
Back Sydney FC to Win -1 Goal @ $1.83
Wednesday 19 May, 9:20pm, HBF Park
Perth 2 – Adelaide 1
Perth is really enjoying its home stand, winning its last three to keep its finals hopes alive.
Adelaide ground out a hard-fought win over Brisbane last week but is still hardly looking like a formidable foe.
If the Glory can continue their scoring form of the past fortnight, with 10 goals from their last three matches, it’s tough to imagine Adelaide being able to keep pace.
Head to head the Glory offers more than enough value for me to back them outright.
Back Perth to Win @ $2.40
A second attempt at the third Sydney Derby of the season highlights this weekend’s action in the A-League.
Of course that is far from the only highlight as Adelaide looks to rebound from a huge defeat against the languishing Melbourne Victory.
We also close out the round with a possible finals preview as third placed Melbourne City host the sixth placed Brisbane Roar.
We’re covering all five games in our A-League Preview here so check out who we are backing below!
Western Syndey Wanderers
Friday 28 February, 7:30pm, Nestrata Jubliee Stadium
Sydney FC 0 – Western Sydney 1
In a season where those at Wanderland felt like fate was conspiring against them, the postponement of this fixture might have played into their hands.
They head into this game unbeaten in their last three, having rediscovered their scoring touch in a 5-2 rout of Adelaide last Friday night.
On the other hand, their rivals put a Champions League thumping behind them to comfortably beat the Mariners, however, they would be remiss to take this fixture lightly, especially considering it is coming against the one A-League side to defeat them this season.
For the most part in recent years though, this derby has been one way traffic and despite the Wanderers general improvement since the departure of Markus Babbel, it’s always worth backing Sydney when they are in this price range.
Back Sydney FC to Win @ $1.77
Saturday 29 February, 5:00pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Newcastle 2 – Perth 1
After one of, if not the most bizarre fortnights in Glory history, they once again can turn their attention back to football with this clash against the improving Jets.
New manager Carl Robinson has bolstered his squad with a pair of signings, although how much Bernie Ibini and Joe Ledley are actually involved in this match remains to be seen.
The Glory are in the midst of an impressive 10 game unbeaten run in the A-League, however you do have to question whether or not their travel schedule is starting to take a toll on the squad.
They were run down late against Brisbane and another cross country flight to Newcastle will only increase the drain with a Champions League tie next week to deal with as well.
In a tipping competition I would probably take the Glory outright but from a betting perspective there’s just too many variables in play for a good option, so I’ll steer clear of this one.
Saturday 29 February, 7:30pm, Marvel Stadium
Melbourne Victory 2 – Adelaide 1
After years as the Victory’s bunnies, Adelaide is suddenly the dominant force in this fixture.
They have won the last four A-League meetings between these sides, holding the Victory scoreless on three of those occasions including a 1-0 win six weeks ago.
It’s taken a lot of adjustment this season but it’s finally at the point where you can back against this talent laden Victory squad with plenty of confidence, especially with the market still giving them a decent shot here.
We might also be seeing a reaction to Adelaide getting ripped apart by the Wanderers last weekend, although that performance could very well be an outlier with a pretty strong form line since that most recent win over their original rivals.
Adelaide as slight outsiders look to be a bit over the odds, so I’ll happily jump on board with them at their current price.
Back Adelaide to Win @ $2.80
Central Coast Mariners
Sunday 1 March, 4:00pm, GMHBA Stadium
Western United 6 – Central Coast 2
It’s a battle between the side you hate to back and the side you just can’t bring yourself to.
In the limited history of this fixture, the home team has won on both occasions with the Mariners winning the first meeting in Gosford and Western United getting up 3-0 in mid-January.
Of course, since scoring three against Adelaide on Australia Day the Western United attack has been sterile on a good day, failing to score a goal in their last three matches.
Helping their cause is the fact they are facing the worst team in the A-League with the Mariners on a six-game winning streak and goalless in their last two matches as well.
With two teams struggling to score, this one really could be a case of “first goal wins”, but I just don’t known which team will score (if any) – so I’ll back a low-scoring contest.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ $2.10
Sunday 1 March, 6:30pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne City 1 – Brisbane 0
For some reason, Melbourne City is the one side that has brought Brisbane out of its shell this season with the two fixtures they have played so far seeing plenty of goals.
In November the Roar won 4-3 in Redcliffe followed by a 2-2 draw at Suncorp Stadium in January.
Twelve of the Roar’s 18 matches this season have featured two or fewer goals, so the two against City are definitely in the ‘outlier’ category.
It’s also fair to ask if City are starting to stumble with their results tailing off in recent weeks, recording two losses, a draw and a win from their last four matches.
Brisbane looks to be way over the odds at $5 for this one so I’ll happily get on board with the value on offer for a Roar outright victory.
Back Brisbane to Win @ $5.00
Even 21 rounds in we are still getting new things in this A-League season as this weekend (and next) gives us our first split round for the 2018/2019 A-League campaign.
Thanks to last year’s Premiers and Champions competing in the Asian Champions League, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory will be involved in this weekend’s action before commencing continental duties.
Read on for our previews and predictions for all of the action this coming weekend and a bit later on the action from the second half of Round 21.
Friday 1 March, 7:50pm, Leichardt Oval
Sydney FC 2 – Adelaide United 0
Sydney is back in the winners circle but will need to improve on their performance against Wellington ahead of their Champions League campaign.
Adelaide has been a tricky out for them this season with the three meetings being split down the middle, a win apiece and a draw in the opening round.
The Reds are winless in their last three games but have been able to stay in fourth spot thanks to the teams below them having longer streaks in place.
At some point though that margin for error is going to go and this looks like a game where Sydney, even with some possible rotation, is worth backing in.
Back Sydney FC to Win @ $2.05
Saturday 2 March, 7:50pm, GMHBA Stadium
Melbourne Victory 0 – Newcastle 2
The Victory are back in Geelong, looking to put their best foot forward to the people of Geelong before the new Western United side plays there starting next season.
With an outside shot (at best) of the Premiership, the Victory needs to pick up points to keep the pressure on Sydney in their race for second spot.
Victory defender Georg Niedermeier will be suspended after his derby red card, but his likely replacement James Donachie is a more than capable fill in as the home side looks for their first clean sheet since January 15.
It won’t come easy however with the Jets scoring 9 goals in their last three games but against the Victory they have really struggled with three straight losses.
At the moment it seems like the Victory have the Jets number and at over even money its excellent value here.
Back Melbourne Victory to Win @ $2.10
Sunday 3 March, 5:00pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne City 2 – Perth 2
It’s fair to say that City’s derby draw was less than inspiring especially after playing against a side a man down from the 15th minute.
Perth meanwhile were punished for not putting the Wanderers away with a last gasp equaliser however it still was another point closer to the Premiership.
With neither side overly happy with how last week unfolded you would hope that can spark a response and Tony Popovic is just the sort of manager to get his side back on track.
Even with Melbourne City’s maddening inconsistency, this looks like the sort of game they will find a way to get up for and frustrate Perth for a score draw.
Back Both Teams to Score and a Draw @ $4.20
Western Sydney Wanderers
Friday 8 March, 7:50pm, Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane 1 – Western Sydney 4
Brisbane has been involved in some wild clashes over the past six or so weeks and it all started with a wild comeback draw against the Wanderers in Round 16.
It would be completely on brand if this game had a similar level of craziness to it as both meetings have ended in 2-2 draws with the Roar coming back from 2-0 down.
Since these sides last met, the Roar have also blown a 3-0 lead to Adelaide and managed to beat Sydney with a makeshift defence and had a wild 5-3 win in Gosford in the last game.
Western Sydney managed to get blown out by Newcastle but have responded with back to back wins over the Mariners and Adelaide before picking up an unlikely draw against Perth.
What does that all of that mean?
Both of these sides are playing for pride and… well pretty much pride unless half the top six is suddenly banned from the finals.
It’s always a risky play backing either of these sides and there’s no guarantee how they will come out after a week off so instead look for the goals market for a value play.
Back Over 3.5 Goals @ $2.00
Central Coast Mariners
Saturday 9 March, 7:50pm, Central Coast Stadium
Central Coast 2 – Wellington 8
Perhaps things are unravelling for Wellington just a little bit after four games without a win and a coach that feels secure enough in himself to blast the higher ups.
The good news for them is after a week to reset, the Nix have a great chance to bounce back against the presumptive wooden spooners who they have already beaten twice this season.
Normally this game at this stage of the season would be a total write off for viewers but Wellington is well and truly in the finals mix and this, like every game from here on out is a huge opportunity.
You have to have faith in Mark Rudan as a coach here and his ability to get the Phoenix up for this game.
Back Wellington to Win @ $2.00
After the first of two split rounds all ten A-League sides are back in action for Round 21.
Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC are returning from overseas duty in the Asian Champions League so their squad depth will be tested here.
They are both in for rivalry games this weekend with Victory facing Adelaide in Saturday’s main feature while Sydney play in the third derby of the season against the Wanderers on Sunday night.
Read on for our previews and recommended A-League betting plays from all five matches this weekend.
Central Coast Mariners
Friday 23 February, 7:50pm, Central Coast Stadium
A match between the sides sitting last and second last on the ladder, Wellington make the trip to Gosford fresh off a big win over Perth and two wins from their last four.
The Mariners claimed the first meeting 4-1 in Westpac before a 0-0 draw on New Years Eve but their home form is quite concerning.
Fans at Central Coast Stadium have not seen their side win at home in five games, including back to back 2-1 losses to Brisbane and Western Sydney.
Wellington lost their last two away games 4-0 in Sydney however holding on last week will restore some of that confidence.
They are a different team away from home and the Mariners desperately need a break and this game should be that opportunity.
Back Central Coast to Win @ $2.10
Saturday 24 February, 5:35pm, Suncorp Stadium
As Brisbane’s playing squad returns to full strength, the results are starting to come for them having won three of their last four A-League matches.
Newcastle on the other hand have gone three games without a loss and have beaten the Roar twice so far this season.
The first meeting was 2-1 at Suncorp Stadium while the Jets controlled a 1-0 return match in January.
When looking at this game, it comes down to whether you want to trust the season of good performances from the Jets or the last few good games from the Roar.
If Brisbane are able to put a couple more good performances together then they might start to get some benefit of the doubt here but until then, go with the exciting Jets.
Back Newcastle to Win @ $2.30
Saturday 24 February, 7:50pm, AAMI Park
Three losses in a row for the Victory and the heat is getting turned up on Kevin Muscat amidst the Champions League campaign.
Adelaide produced a fighting 2-2 draw with Central Coast last week despite playing over 70 minutes with just 10 players to keep their unbeaten run at three.
This could be a pivotal game for Adelaide’s top four hopes as it could put a big gap between themselves and the chasing pack.
With the current form of both teams, look at Adelaide to continue their good run here.
Back Adelaide to Win @ $3.40
Saturday 24 February, 10:00pm, NiB Stadium
Diego Castro will be replaying that missed opportunity from the penalty spot all week and his chance at redemption comes against a Melbourne City side that has had a fortnight to stew over a 4-0 hammering at the hands of Sydney FC.
This fixture has gone the way of the away team this year with Perth winning in Melbourne in November while City claimed the first game at NiB.
With just one win from their past eight matches, Perth are in danger of falling out of the finals race this weekend.
Expect City to find a way to pile the pressure on Perth and come back with three points.
Back Melbourne City to Win @ $2.10
Western Sydney Wanderers
Sunday 25 February, 7:00pm, Allianz Stadium
A huge way to close out the round with the third (and likely final) Sydney derby of the season.
Both games have produced goals with the first one resulting in an entertaining 2-2 draw before Sydney crushed their cross town rivals 5-0 back in December.
Expect more goals in this game as Sydney look to exert their dominance and take one step closer to the finals race in another high scoring game.
Back Sydney FC to Win and Over 3.5 Goals @ $3.20
There are plenty of big games in the A-League this weekend.
Melbourne City host Sydney FC on Friday night in arguably the most interesting game of the round, while there is a massive triple-header on Saturday night.
The round concludes on Sunday afternoon when the Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners do battle in what is always a spiteful clash.
Friday 24 February, 6:50pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne City 1 - Sydney FC 3
Sydney FC suffered their first defeat of the season against Melbourne City last weekend, but they will still go into this clash as narrow favourites.
Sydney FC have an excellent record away from home this season and they have won seven of their past 11 games as away favourites for a clear profit.
Melbourne City produced one of their best performances of the season to beat the Wellington Phoenix last weekend and they will go into this clash with some confidence.
They have won nine of their past 13 games as home favourites for a clear profit, but stringing together back-to-back wins has proven to be somewhat of an issue.
This is a match that the market looks to have gotten spot-on and I am happy to stay out from a betting standpoint.
Saturday 25 February, 4:35pm, Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane Roar 1 - Wellington Phoenix 2
The Brisbane Roar have not won in almost a month, but they are one of the shortest-priced favourites in the A-League this weekend.
Brisbane continue to produce their best form in front of their home fans and they have now won nine of their past 12 games as home favourites for a clear profit.
Wellington have been very poor in their past three matches and it really is tough to back them with any confidence.
The Phoenix have won just two of their past 11 games as away underdogs for a clear loss and they have conceded plenty of goals.
Brisbane should prove far too strong for the Phoenix and it would not surprise to see them record a very comfortable win.
Back Brisbane To Beat The Line (-1 Goal) @ $2.63
Saturday 25 February, 6:50pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne Victory 2 - Adelaide United 1
The Melbourne Victory are the other dominant favourites in the A-League this weekend following their return to form against the Central Coast Mariners.
Melbourne have been tough to beat at home this season, but they have still not made a profit as home favourites with a 7-3-2 record.
Adelaide United ended their winless run with a fighting victory over the Newcastle Jets, but they continue to be tough to trust from a betting standpoint.
They have won just one game as away underdogs this season, but they have been able to take a point from three other games in this scenario.
Melbourne are deserving favourites, but it is impossible to get them as short as their current price and the $4.75 on offer for a draw is over the odds.
Back The Draw @ $4.75
Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday 25 February, 9:00pm, NIB Stadium
Perth Glory 2 - Western Sydney Wanderers 1
This is one of the most interesting games of the weekend.
Perth Glory have lost only one of their past eight games following their stalemate with the Brisbane Roar and they are always tough to beat in front of their home fans.
The Glory have won six of their past ten games as home favourites for a clear profit, but it has been a while since they beat Western Sydney.
Western Sydney secured their biggest win of the season with their controversial victory over Sydney FC and it will be interesting to see how they get up for this clash.
The Wanderers have won just two of their past ten games as away underdogs for a clear loss and they have strung together back-to-back wins just once this season.
Perth really should be able to return to winning form and they are one of the best betting plays of the weekend.
Perth To Win @ $2.20
Central Coast Mariners
Sunday 26 February, 4:00pm, Hunter Stadium
Newcastle Jets 1 - Central Coast Mariners 1
The F3 Derby means plenty to the fans of both the Newcastle Jets and the Central Coast Mariners and this is one of the most interesting games of the weekend.
It is Newcastle that will go into this clash as favourites, but their record as home favourites does not inspire a great deal of confidence – they have drawn their past three games in this scenario.
Central Coast had their winning run ended by a rampant Melbourne Victory, but it would not surprise to see them bounce back against the Newcastle Jets.
The Mariners have taken at least a point from their 13 games as away underdogs and four of their past six games with the Jets have ended as draws.
This clash really looks to have stalemate written all over it and the $4 available for the draw is excellent value.
Back The Draw @ $4