- Football - Australia - Australia A-League
Again, I can't agree with the odds for this match. They seem to over-factor (over-react) the teams' last match where Melbourne overcame Perth Glory 2-0 while Newcastle were hammered 4-0 by Wellington Phoenix.
I won't read too much into Melbourne's win. The performance wasn't frontpage material and it was against Perth who have been poor all season. Meanwhile, Newcastle's defeat in New Zealand could be explained by them having to travel cross-Tasman with a depleted squad on the back of a heavy schedule.
Now, Newcastle will have a fully-fit squad (Ljubo Milicevic, Kasey Wehrman, Jobe Wheelhouse & Ruben Zadkovich return) for the short trip to Melbourne after a well-deserved 9-day rest. Prior to that, the Wellington trip was the 4th match in 2 weeks! Clearly, tiredness was a factor in that defeat which ended their impressive 5/2/0 run.
As for Melbourne, they have several absentees in full-backs Surat Sukha & Matthew Kemp and midfielder Grant Brebner but their biggest loss is striker Archie Thompson. The A-league's all-time leading scorer is instrumental to Melbourne's attack - 49% win when he plays & 35% when he does not. It is no coincidence that Melbourne began a 5-match unbeaten run after a fully-fit Thompson returned to the squad. His participation also allowed partner Robbie Kruse to play his preferred wide-left role. In the last 5 Thompson started, Kruse scored 5 whereas before, he reached that tally playing 3x more games! Lastly, Melbourne playmaker Carlos Hernandez is a doubt but I think he should be available.
If Melbourne struggle upfront, they will struggle overall. Even during their 5-match unbeaten run, they have conceded a whopping 8 goals! In fact, they have kept just 1 clean sheet in their last 9 outings.
It is interesting to note that no team has a better record against Melbourne than Newcastle since the inception of the A-league in 2005. In all 16 meetings, Newcastle +0. 5 have lost just 4x despite Melbourne winning the league in 2006/07 & 2008/9 and finishing runners-up last season.
I sense that Newcastle, with all of their first choice players available again, will be good enough to hold off a toothless Melbourne side without their talisman Thompson.
My price: Newcastle +0. 25 $1. 90
|26/12/2010 19:47, read 3193 times