Mon, Jan 15, 3:20pm by Staff Writer
Week 16 of the 2017-18 Hyundai A-League featured five matches, three of which were draws, as teams struggled for intensity on the pitch and quality in front of goal after a hectic schedule during the past fortnight.
The Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory were the only two teams to take all three points from their matches on the weekend.
Despite a draw with Adelaide United, Sydney FC remain at the top of the table, six points clear of second placed Newcastle and 13 points clear of third placed Melbourne City.
After being backed into a season low price of $1.72 at Sportsbet last week, the Sky Blues continue to shorten, this week paying $1.66 to win the title at Sportsbet.
Sydney has a solitary loss to the Central Coast Mariners as their only blemish, recording 12 wins and three draws after 16 matches.
Adelaide played well for the first hour of the contest before Sydney FC controlled the last portion of the game, with Adelaide’s defensive structure the most impressive part of their game on Sunday night.
The Reds continue to drift in the outright market from $18 to $21 this week at Sportsbet, despite being six points clear of 7th placed Perth Glory.
Newcastle are clear second favourites to win the title this season at $4.50 at Sportsbet. The Jets are at their shortest price of the season to lift the championship silverware after a 1-0 win against Brisbane on Friday night.
The win makes it six points from six this week for Ernie Merrick’s side, who have been this season’s biggest surprise.
The Roar continue to play poorly, losing their third match in a week. What is more alarming for coach John Aloisi is that his side has failed to score in any of those three losses.
Brisbane are out to $251 to win the title at Sportsbet and it would be a surprise if they even make the top six, let alone make a mark in finals.
Melbourne Victory needed every minute of their match against Perth Glory to claim maximum points, with Victory winning a pulsating encounter 3-2.
Glory took the early lead through Scott Neville and looked to have equalised late through Diego Castro after falling behind 2-1.
A Kosta Barbarouses strike in stoppage time proved decisive, ensuring Melbourne Victory continue to apply the pressure to the second placed Jets and third placed Melbourne City.
Victory continue to be patchy, winning one game and losing the next, a trend which has been prevalent throughout their entire season.
At $8.50 to win the title at Sportsbet, they represent value at this time given their experience, particularly in finals.
Perth continue to battle for no result, conceding once again in stoppage time to relinquish points.
Saturday night’s result sees the men from the west drift from $36 to $81 at Sportsbet, with Perth now three points outside the top six.
Wellington and Western Sydney placed out a competitive 1-1 draw in Wellington. The Wanderers took the early lead before a late flurry from Wellington, who should have won the game deep into stoppage time.
The Phoenix have showed improved form over the past month and it would be surprising if they spent the rest of the season at the bottom of the table.
Wellington has come in from their price of $501 to win the title to $426 this week at Sportsbet.
The Wanderers remain steady at $18 as they continue to accumulate points and climb the standings.
Central Coast will be wondering how they didn’t take all three points on Sunday afternoon in Gosford. With a 1-0 lead and man advantage due to a City red card, the Mariners conceded the lead twice and settled for a 2-2 draw.
The result leaves the Mariners just four points above bottom placed Wellington and $426 to win the title.
City are now clear third in outright betting at $7.50, behind Sydney FC and Newcastle.
A-League Outright Odds
Sydney FC $1.66
Newcastle Jets $4.50
Melbourne City $7.50
Melbourne Victory $8.50
Western Sydney Wanderers $18
Adelaide United $21
Perth Glory $81
Brisbane Roar $251
Central Coast Mariners $426
Wellington Phoenix $426
*Odds from Sportsbet
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