We are covering the A League this season and have been researching the various ins and outs at each team in preparation and have found what looks to be a solid bet for the Premiership and an even better one for the wooden spoon.
Let’s take a look at each team.
The Roar have been terrible going forward over the last couple of seasons and we have them ranked 7th best in attack out of the 10 teams which just isn’t going to cut it. John Aloisi is going to need plenty of goals from new signing Adam Taggart if they are to challenge the two Melbourne clubs and Sydney FC.
Summary: look likely to struggle once again
Central Coast Mariners
The Mariners have the worst attack and the worst defence in the league according to our ratings. Not a great combination. Usain Bolt scored a couple of goals in a pre season match last week and actually looked a lot better than i expected him to in the highlights reel. It would be fantastic if Bolt manages to get a game but the Mariners will be more concerned about keeping new signing Ross McCormack fit and well. He was a quality Championship standard striker in the UK for many years and that’s easily good enough to cut it in the A League and he was OK for Melbourne City at times last year.
Summary: Can Bolt save them from another wooden spoon? No.
We have City ranked 3rd in attack and 4th in defence and they are most bookmakers 3rd favourites to win the title at around $6. They will benefit hugely from the return of their captain, Uruguayan Bruno Fornarolli, who missed most of last season with a broken ankle. He has scored 46 times in 63 appearances for City. Unfortunately City will be without new signing Michael O’Halloran who injured his hamstring and could miss the 1st three months of the season.
Summary: Will need to improve to step up on last season but will be there or thereabouts
Victory are ranked the best attack and the best defence in the A League and are the team to beat following their surprise success in 2017.
The signings of renowned international forwards Ola Toivonen and Keisuke Honda are the main reason their attack is rated so strongly. Obviously they are going to have to gel and this may take a bit of time but both have such quality it’s hard to see them not being great successes. Both were good enough to play, and score, in the World Cup in the summer and between them they have 162 international caps with Honda retiring from the Japanese international team needing just two more to reach 100 caps. Honda has done well wherever he’s been including in Russia, Italy and most recently in Mexico. This bodes well for Victory fans.
Summary: Their two marquee signings should make them too strong in 2018/19
The Jets surprised to make the Grand Final in 2017 and look likely to struggle to repeat the feat this time around. Roy O’Donovan’s ten game suspension was well over the top in my opinion. How was his boot to the head of the Victory goalkeeper in a desperate late attempt to score worse than his headbutt of 2015 that got an 8 game ban?!
Either way the Jets will miss him badly and may be plenty of points behind the top teams when he comes back into the fold.
Summary: Will struggle to get close to last year’s achievements
The Glory have installed ex Western Sydney boss Tony Popovic to replace Kenny Lowe and this should give Glory fans some hope of improvement to their leaky defence. Popovic was sacked after just nine games as manager of Turkish club Karabukspor and pocketed $1.4m compensation in the process. Nice work (or lack of it) if you can get it.
Summary: should improve under Popovic and big chance of playing finals in 2018/19
Sydney FC rank 2nd in both attack and defence and look to be the toughest opponents for Melbourne Victory.
Lots of comings and goings in the off season and none more important than the departure of Graham Arnold who took over the job at the helm of the Socceroos. Adam Le Fondre looks like an interesting signing and should get plenty of goals at this level if he has the desire to do so. A few key players have left but their most important player, Milos Ninkovic, has stuck around and Sydney will look to continue their good form after recently reaching the FFA Cup final.
Summary: the main challengers to Melbourne Victory but departure of key players plus Graham Arnold may be too much to cope with in 2018/19
Ranked 2nd worst in both attack and defence it looks like another tough year for the Kiwis. New coach Mark Rudan has served a successful apprenticeship at Sydney United 58 in which he guided them to two NSW and Australian championships in four years and he will be key to whether the Phoenix can avoid the wooden spoon. Steven Taylor is a good signing and he should marshal the defence well.
Summary: should improve enough to stay above the Mariners but that’s about it
Western Sydney Wanderers
Western Sydney struggled last season in their first of the post Popovic era but new manager Markus Babbel has a good pedigree and they can challenge for a finals spot. They need to improve defensively after conceding 47 times in 2017 and new signings Raul Llorente, Roly Bonevacia and Patrick Ziegler should help this cause.
Summary: can challenge for a finals berth
2 units Melbourne Victory to win Grand Final at $5.0 with Ladbrokes
4 units Central Coast wooden spoon at $3.75 with Sportsbet