Thursday, 23 October 2014

A-League Round 3 Preview

Brisbane Roar v Sydney FC

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Friday, October 24

The Roar find themselves in uncharted waters as they share bottom spot of the A-League ladder with Grand Final opponents Western Sydney Wanderers. The task is huge for the Sky Blues as they plan for their third game in less than a week. I felt the Roar was solid in patches, but some key defensive lapses cost them on the back of a stand-out striking performance by Irish import Andy Keogh for the Glory. Sydney’s extra-time quarter final FFA Cup loss against Adelaide United will be a bitter pill to swallow, but I feel Brisbane are very good value to notch up their first win of the season

Pick: Brisbane Roar (H2H)

Melbourne Victory v Melbourne City

Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Saturday, October 25
6.30 PM (AEST)

Last week saw a record attendance for the #SydneyDerby but the hype now moves to Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium for Melbourne’s version. David Villa will add an extra special feel to the encounter, as emotions are always high to claim bragging rights. Big name player often step up to the plate in big games and I see no reason why it won’t happen in this one. Carl Valeri has been an important ingredient in linking the attacking talent at the Victory and I just feel Kosta Barbarouses is very close to getting on the stats sheet.

Pick: Melbourne Victory (H2H). A Red card being handed out is always a big possibility and good value in derby games!

Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle United Jets

Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Sunday, October 26

The Phoenix returns back across the ditch to the ‘Cake-tin’ after a rare away win in Gosford. Ernie Merrick will be looking to go back-to-back against a team (Jets) with whom they enjoy their best win record against (59%). Newcastle were impressive, and probably should have claimed the three points, against Melbourne City after some wayward chances in front of goal. With the attacking weapons of Jeronimo Neumann, Marcos Flores and Joel Griffiths up front, I’m thinking they could pull off an upset on Sunday.

Pick: Newcastle (H2H) on the back of an unexpected and impressive performance last weekend.

Adelaide United v Perth Glory

Coopers Stadium, Adelaide
Sunday, October 26

I for one am looking forward to this match up. Andy Keogh (Glory) collected a hat trick against the Roar last Sunday and is a clear leader in the ‘Golden Boot’. Adelaide could show signs of fatigue after travelling to Allianz Stadium mid-week for their FFA Cup quarterfinal against Sydney FC. With plenty of youth players filling the void, and hosting back at Coopers Stadium, this could be the tonic to notch their second win of the season. Confidence is sky high in the Glory camp and their top spot on the ladder should see a steady return of support in the west.

Pick: Perth Glory (Draw No Bet) is awfully good value for an undefeated team atop the ladder!

Western Sydney Wanderers  v Al Hilal

Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta
Saturday, October 25
6.30 PM (AEST)

The A-League takes a back seat this weekend for the Wanderers as they host the first leg of the Asian Champions League final at Parramatta. Tony Popovic is remaining positive despite a slow start to the local competition, but it is obvious one eye has been focussing on this challenge. The reward is massive for the winning club as it opens the door to a potential meeting with Real Madrid in the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco later this year. For now, it is all be about the win and not conceding the away goal to their Saudi opponents. The first leg is always a window to the soul of the manager’s strategy, and with the #MelbourneDerby telecast at the same time, it will be hard to choose which game to watch. That’s easy I’ll watch both!

Pick: Wanderers (Draw No Bet). If he starts, Tom Juric is a solid choice in the '1st Goal Scorer'!

I’ll be on The TattsBet Brekky show @tattsbetbrekky every Friday and Monday morning around 7:45am AEST over the course of the entire @Aleague season with my previews and reviews of every game.

James ‘Hamez’ Clark

Thursday, 16 October 2014

A-League Round 2 Preview

Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory

Adelaide Oval

Friday, October 17

6.40 PM (AEST)


This promises to be a tough 'top of the table' clash between two fierce rivals. The match has been moved to the Adelaide Oval and may favour the visitors. Confidence is high in the Victory camp after the 4-1 domination of a heavily burdened Wanderers, but Adelaide is a different proposition after a successful winning road trip against Brisbane Roar. Bruce Djite was unlucky not to get a brace for the Reds and returned to sparkling form up front. Sergio Cirio is a handy choice in the ‘To Score a Goal’ market on TattsBet after some impressive pre-season form that netted two goals. Victory’s Kosta Barbarouses was hard to handle on the wing in the opening round and will be itching to get on the scoresheet.

Pick: Adelaide (Draw No Bet)


Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix

Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Saturday, October 18

4.00 PM (AEST)


The Mariners have had a busy week after Mitch Duke slotted home the added time winner to snatch three important points in the #F3Derby at Gosford. They return home still high from a mid-week FFA Cup five-goal rout of NPLQ Champions Palm Beach Sharks. It will be intriguing to monitor if Mariners boss Phil Moss will start with Matt Sim after his outstanding four goal heroics off the bench. The big question is what Phoenix away team will turn up given their appalling 61% away loss stat? Expect a close contest, but I think the home team with prevail.

Pick: Central Coast Mariners (H2H), or Half/Full Double: Draw/CCM good value!

Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers

Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Saturday, October 18

6.30 PM (AEST)


This is the big one! The #SydneyDerby looks a certain sell-out at Allianz Stadium and Graham Arnold’s ‘Sky Blue’ outfit is looking to take advantage of a Wanderers squad preparing for a very busy few weeks juggling A-League and Champions Leagues commitments. Sydney’s attack was patchy last week against Melbourne City and could consider themselves lucky to get away with a point from that game. They will need to be on song against the very experienced and match hardened Wanderers defensive unit. With a tight market the Draw looks attractive but I’m leaning towards the Sky Blues to build on last weeks opening stalemate.

Pick: Sydney FC (Draw No Bet)

Melbourne City v Newcastle Jets

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Sunday, October 19

2.00 PM (AEST)


David Villa’s arrival last week has all the City fans in a tailspin and should ensure plenty turn up to watch the Spanish star play his first home game at AAMI. He’s already lived up to his reputation with a classy strike to share the points with Sydney. I see no reason why he can’t replicate it or go better this weekend against a team equal favourite in the ‘Wooden Spoon’ market. Clearly I think City will deliver his club’s first A-League win as a new entity but by how much is the big query?

Pick: Melbourne City (H2H)

Perth Glory v Brisbane Roar

nib Stadium, Perth

Sunday, October 19

4.00 PM (AEST)

This is a tough road trip for the Roar coming off their loss to Adelaide at Suncorp. A fascinating contest awaits with the combinations between Youssouf Hersi, Adam Keogh and Mitch Nichols already displaying great promise for the Glory. After a long flight home from across the ditch, Glory play a Roar team with whom they’ve enjoyed a healthy rivalry since the 2012 Grand Final. The Roar’s timing was slightly off against the Reds, but if they find the net early, I’m confident they can get the three points.

Pick: Roar (H2H) & 'Will there be a penalty' YES is also worth a go in rivalry games!

I’ll be on the @tattsbetbrekky Friday and Monday morning around 7:45am AEST over the course of the entire @Aleague season with my previews and reviews of every game for @tatts_sport

James ‘Hamez’ Clark


Thursday, 9 October 2014

A-League Round 1 Preview

Melbourne Victory v Western Sydney Wanderers

Etihad Stadium, 6.40pm (AEST) 10/10/14

The Victory have enjoyed a fruitful pre-season qualifying for the FFA Cup quarter finals whilst maintaining an unbeaten run of 10 games and conceding only two goals in the process. Besart Berisha will be looking to add to his impressive goal scoring strike rate for his new club and is the clear favourite in the first goal scorer market. With an Asian Champions League final at the forefront of the Wanderers minds, the Victory looks the better option at home in front of their passionate fans.

Tip: Victory H2H

Gui Finkler good value to score a goal for Victory!

Central Coast Mariners v Newcastle Jets

Central Coast Stadium, 4pm (AEST) 11/10/14

The old “F3 Derby” in Gosford will ensure plenty of feeling with Marcos Flores heading to his old home in what could spark a fiery start to the season. The Jets have recruited heavily in the off-season, but whether combinations have formed this early is questionable. With defensive structures not at their peak just yet, the market for a penalty or red card is always good value with teams keen to secure early competition points. Mitch Duke has been training the house down and impressed in the FFA Cup. He's a handy choice for first goal scorer.

Tip: Mariners H2H

(Yes Red Card given or Yes Penalty kick are good value)

Sydney FC v Melbourne City

Allianz Stadium, 6.30pm (AEST) 11/10/14

This looks to be a very close encounter on paper as the new look Melbourne City brand makes its A-League debut at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium. The Sky Blues under new coach Graham Arnold are under enormous pressure to deliver this season and I think they will come out of the blocks and be too strong for City. The uncertainty over star import David Villa’s availability and indifferent pre-season form is too big a query and I will need more convincing before investing in them.

Tip: Sydney FC H2H

(Correct Score: Sydney FC 2-0)

Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory

Westpac Stadium, 2pm (AEST) 12/10/14

Often dubbed the “Distance Derby”, this is probably the toughest match in the round to come up with the winner. The Phoenix have always struggled away from home and visiting teams seem to relish travelling across the ditch. With a disappointing couple of seasons behind them, and the loss of Carlos Hernandez and Paul Ifill, the only way appears up for Wellington. This is probably a good game to avoid in the head-to-head market. I’m more in favour of taking the classy new Irish striker Andy Keogh (Glory) to score a goal in his official A-League debut for his new club.

Tip: Perth Glory (Draw No bet)

Brisbane Roar v Adelaide United

Suncorp Stadium, 4pm (AEST) 12/10/14

The Premiers and Champions (Brisbane) return to the scene of last year’s Grand Final triumph (Suncorp Stadium) to take on an Adelaide United side brimming with confidence after a recent 2-0 Round 16 FFA Cup win over the Roar. For the Roar, there is much change to last season, but plenty that remains the same. No Berisha means they must look to Henrique, Mensur Kurtisi and Dimi Petratos to fill the gap in goals. On paper, the Roar are clear-cut favourites, but I can’t help but think that a draw this early in the season is wonderful value. Adelaide has a fine record in Brisbane, only tasting defeat 3 times from 14 outings and is responsible for their lowest losing percentage of all away venues.

Tip: Draw

I’ll be on the TattsBet Brekky Show @tattsbetbrekky every Friday and Monday morning over the course of the entire @Aleague season with previews and reviews of every game for @tatts_sports

James ‘Hamez’ Clark

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A-League 2014-15 Season Preview

This season marks the very proud 10th anniversary of the Hyundai A-League. The unprecedented growth of soccer/football in this country is mirrored by record crowd participation which is helping 'the world game' become a very popular fixture on the Australian sporting landscape.

Lets take a brief look at each club and their key signings, and play a sporting version of Nostradamus by attempting to predict where each club will finish at the end of Round 27.

The big news to grace the league is the addition of David Villa to the newly branded Melbourne City franchise for the opening 10 weeks of competition. The news follows on from the exit of immensely popular imports ADP, Shinji Ono and Emile Heskey. Villa is very much at the peak of his game and his enormous pulling power will ensure healthy crowds gather to watch the former Spain, Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid star in the flesh.

Adelaide United

Spanish coach Josep Gombau’s second year at the helm will hopefully see the fruits of his labour in converting the club to a possession/tiki-taka branded philosophy. Losing star striker and crowd favourite Jeronimo Neumann to the Newcastle Jets will put the focus squarely on the shoulders of new recruit Pablo Sanchez Alberto and club stalwart Bruce Djite to help deliver a positive goal differential and a top four birth or better. I’m looking for big things from the Reds this season.

Prediction: Fourth

Brisbane Roar

Last season’s Premiers and Champions are never short on confidence and self-belief, and is the reason they are the most successful club in the A-League. The loss of enigmatic Albanian striker Besart Berisha to the Victory has plenty of fans wondering if incoming Macedonian import Mensur Kurtisi can help fill the net with some of the 13 goals from 20 games Berisha delivered last season. The loss of Ivan Franjic to Torpedo Moscow is immense, but the experience of Smith, Mackay, and Henrique, paired with the best import player this country has seen in Thomas Broich, ensures the Roar will again be the benchmark of the competition.

Prediction: Second

Central Coast Mariners

Despite their impressive on field successes over the past four seasons, the Mariners are always underrated in terms of predicting where they will finish each season. A strong club with a wonderful culture, the off-field financial murmurings often dominate the headlines. The dressing room and its management have always driven the club, and this year will be no different. In nine seasons, the club has only missed finals football twice, and has played in four Grand Finals, tasting victory in 2012/13.

Prediction: Sixth

Melbourne City

The off-season has seen a new owner, new name, new jersey and one of the biggest names in world football agreeing to terms for a 10 weeks stint. Melbourne City are hoping David Villa fills stadiums across the country, but more importantly delivers a winning culture to a club in desperate need of success. The problem isn’t in how the new City story begins, but how it ends in season 10. That ultimately pleases the growing fans base and their wealthy owners.

Prediction: Seventh

Melbourne Victory

Kevin Muscat took over from Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou and one could probably consider him unlucky of not going further last season. Signing Besart Berisha is a huge plus, but the combination (Muscat and Bersiha) could be more potent than nitro & glycerine. If the mix works on the pitch, Muscat can deliver the proud club its third Champions and Premiers title. Muscat has brought in giant French defender Matthieu Delpierre to strengthen the back four, but his height could also add some tall timber to the all-important set pieces.

Prediction: First

Newcastle Jets

The Jets have a new look aircraft configuration and pilot to fly them this season, with a squad virtually unrecognisable compared with seasons past. Their Golden Boot winning striker Adam Taggart has shifted to English Championship side Fulham, plus they've lost defenders Connor Chapman and Josh Mitchell. However, the key signings of Marcos Flores, Jeronimo Neumann and Edson Montano will fill the void. The big question mark facing new manager Phil Stubbins is how long will it take for his new band of merry men to sing from the same song sheet? I hope they prove my prediction wrong, as this fertile footballing nursery needs the Jets winning.

Prediction: Ninth

Perth Glory

They say you need to reach rock bottom before you start your march back to the top, and last year certainly proved a difficult one for the fans, players and coaching staff alike. Some great acquisitions in Youssef Hersi, Mitch Nichols and Republic of Ireland International striker Andrew Keogh could be just what the doctor ordered for a team that haemorrhaged badly last season with their fair share of on and off-field dramas. A poor away record always weighs this club down as they load up on frequent-flyer miles, but their distance away from the Eastern seaboard often helps them operate in their own protected bubble.

Prediction: Eighth

Sydney FC

By far the club under the most pressure and expectation by fans and their own board is Sydney FC. With the departure of ADP and the constantly under siege former manager Frank Farina, the Sky Blues are now looking to the expertise of experienced man manager Graham Arnold to guide the club to their second Championship/Premiership double since the success of the 2009-10 season. Shane Smeltz, Marc Janko, Bernie Ibini and Alex Brosque will all add starch to the forward line, but will it be mid-field defensive fragilities of the past that again haunts goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic at the back. I’m guessing with Arnie in charge they will improve on last season’s overachieving fifth spot.

Prediction: Third

Wellington Phoenix

I would love to see Wellington Phoenix play finals football this season, but a disastrous away record coupled with a home ground that visiting teams enjoy rather than fear, I’m at pains to predict them not holding the wooden spoon this season! But with a strong manager in Ernie Merrick, and the experience of Nathan Burns up front, they can often be a thorn in the side of teams needing points to qualify for finals football.

Prediction: Tenth

Western Sydney Wanderers

The Wanderers are the envy of many clubs with wonderful fan support and an impressive Asian Champions League Final berth in only their second season. Tony Popovic has overseen a change in personnel that sees a great balance between youth and experience. The addition of talented Brazilian midfielder Vitor Saba may add more spice to an attack that has lost the likes of Youssef Hersi, Shinji Ono and the defensive experience of Michael Beauchamp. Write the Wanderers off at your own peril, as it will still take a quality side to take three points off them each week, especially in front of their passionate home fans.

Prediction: Fifth

James Clark @cleansheetoz
TattsBet Brekky Show @tattsbetbrekky
TattsBet.Com @tatts_sports

Monday, 22 September 2014

Remaining Quarterfinal Spots Up For Grabs

Last week an impressive 14 goals were scored across four games, which will still have many of the goalkeepers waking up in a cold sweat.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the clubs most likely to join the Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne Victory, Adelaide City and Bentleigh Greens in the pot for the all-important quarterfinal draw.

St Albans Saints (Vic)  v Perth Glory (WA)

Kenny Lowe’s Perth Glory side have experienced a massive changing of the guard over the off-season, and so far the form has been mixed in pre-season results. The big question is how long before new combinations take to gel and will the heavy burden of away days again impact on a squad filled with promise? In the meantime a victory over the Saints will be the sole focus of the group charged with building a new culture of success following on from the disappointment of no finals football last season.

Tip: Perth Glory H2H (Pick the score; 2-1 for value)

 Sydney United (NSW)  v Sydney FC (NSW) 

This will be the battle of 'Harbour City' and has the makings of a great Sydney stoush. There is plenty of expectation on Sydney FC, with experienced manager Graham Arnold installed at the helm. Arnold will square off against an impressive Mark Rudan coached Sydney United side, and plenty of passionate fans will ensure a great atmosphere for the FoxSports LIVE telecast game. As Sydney FC’s short price indicates, they should win and win well, but Arnold knows that simply turning up won’t guarantee their survival in this competition.

Tip: Sydney FC H2H

Adelaide United (SA)  v Brisbane Roar (Qld) 

This is probably the most anticipated clash of the Round with current A-League Premiers and Champions Brisbane Roar looking to add another trophy to their impressive record. Both sides will be keen to flex their muscle ahead of their Round 1 A-League fixture at Suncorp Stadium on October 12. Pocket rocket Henrique has been in startling pre-season form and is a handy option if you’re looking to invest in the first goal scorer market.

Tip: Brisbane Roar H2H

Palm Beach Sharks (Qld)  v South Springvale (Vic)

The recently crowned NPL (Qld) Premiers, Palm Beach Sharks, have been the consistent performers all season and should have too much “Prince Charming” class for the “Cinderella” third tier amateur Victorian outfit of South Springvale. The impossible is always possible in ‘Cup’ football, but based on current form, the Sharks might smell the blood in the water and call ‘last drinks’ on the only true Pub team left in the FFA Cup competition.

Tip: Palm Beach Sharks (Margin 2+ goals)

James Clark

TattsBet Brekky Show

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Six A-League Clubs Remain in FFA Cup

Of the 631 clubs competing in the inaugural FFA Cup, six of the 10 A-League teams remain in contention. The FFA Cup concept is largely based on the English FA Cup and gives an opportunity to smaller grass roots minnow clubs in Australian football to be pitted against their professional and more fancied A-League outfits.

The potential for the aptly named “banana-skin” upset in the often talent mismatched encounters are what adds to the romance, as well as to the value for the punter in us all.

Here’s a brief look at the four games on the radar this week, with two A-League clubs (Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners) both looking to avoid that ‘slippery’ path and progress to the quarterfinal stage in October/November.

Sydney Olympic (NSW) ($2.35) v Bentleigh Greens (Vic) ($2.50)

This should be an entertaining and mouth-watering clash between two teams given their rich Greek history and a distinct smell of BBQ Souvlaki in the springtime air. I’m thinking Olympic could sneak home in this one, but given what’s at stake, don’t be surprised if they require extra-time to get the job done. The home ground advantage has been lessened with the fixture moved from the Belmore Sports Ground to Lambert Park in Leichardt.

Tip: Sydney Olympic (Goal Margin by 1 goal)

Tuggeranong United (ACT) ($29.00) v Melbourne Victory (Vic) ($1.02)

Melbourne Victory will be raging favourites as they make the long trip north to take on Tuggeranong United in the nation’s capital. Socceroo Carl Valeri makes a long awaited return to his junior club for the ‘David & Goliath’ battle that will ultimately see his classy professional Victory outfit progress past the passion-filled ‘Tuggies’ team littered with plumbers, accountants and hard working students.

Tip: Melbourne Victory Margin 2+ goals

Adelaide City (SA) ($2.15) v Brisbane Strikers (Qld) ($2.75)

This is the game that could throw up a surprise draw after 90mins. The Brisbane Strikers were National Premier League (Qld) Semi finalists after finishing the season in fourth place. They will look to their in-form striker Matthew Thurtell, who has scored 18 goals this season. In contrast, Adelaide City finished sixth in the SA league dominated by MetroStars, but will still be brimming with confidence after knocking off the highly fancied Asian Cup semi-finalists, the Western Sydney Wanderers, back in August.

Tip: Draw after 90 mins

Olympic FC (Qld) ($8.50) v Central Coast Mariners (NSW) ($1.27)

Olympic FC will be hoping they can turn around their Grand Final loss disappointment to Palm Beach on Friday night as they host Phil Moss’ Central Coast Mariners at QSAC in Brisbane. The Mariners are fresh from a 1-1 draw at Ballymore against A League Champions and Premiers Brisbane Roar. I think fitness will decide this one, and despite my heart going with Olympic, the head suggests the Mariners will come home strong and sail into the quarter finals on the back of superior fitness.

Tip: Mariners 2-0

James Clark

TattsBet Brekky Show