A controversial 0-1 loss to Western Sydney was the only time that Sydney experienced defeat in the Australian A-League last tern as the Sky Blues went 20-6-1 in the regular season before beating Perth 3-0 and Melbourne Victory on penalties in the Finals Series. Sydney topped the Australian A-League ladder from the first round onwards and, having accumulated 17 points more than Melbourne Victory, it would have been a travesty of justice had the Sky Blues not won the title.
There have been several Sydney ins and outs but the players who have moved to the Sky Blues outweigh those who have gone in the opposite direction. Losing goalkeeper Danny Vukovic was a blow and energetic right back Rhyan Grant is injured but Sydney boss Graham Arnold has acquired the services of Poland midfielder Adrian Mierzejewski and former Socceroos defender Luke Wilkshire will deputise for Grant. Sydney had won each of its three Australian FFA Cup ties to nil and the latest of those matches was a 2-0 win over Melbourne City. Sydney has to contend with AFC Champions League football next year but the Sky Blues have a deep squad and it is quite possible that they will be stronger this term than they were in the previous campaign. Sydney’s Australian A-League rivals need the Sky Blues to go backwards to stand any chance of dethroning them and that may not happen.
Sydney bossed the Australian A-League from start to finish last term and one thinks that the Sky Blues represent a good futures bet at odds of +250 with Marathonbet to take out this season’s premiership-deciding Grand Final.
The two Melbourne sides, Victory and City, are the next two teams in Australian A-League lists. Melbourne Victory has done a fair bit of business in the transfer market but one is not convinced that the Big V have improved their roster, with many of their recruits on the wrong side of 30. City will be without its key forward, Bruno Fornaroli, for the opening months of the Australian A-League competition and the team formerly known as Heart has not replaced him yet.
Brisbane, Perth and Western Sydney were the other sides that made the Australian A-League Finals Series last season but none of them appeals ahead of Sydney. More than half of Brisbane’s projected starting line-up are aged in their mid to late 30s and the jury is out on the coaching ability of John Aloisi. Perth has lost a lot of experience during the Australian A-League shutdown and the Glory have to overcome travelling long distances on a regular basis. Western Sydney keeps turning its squad upside down under Tony Popovic and often the Wanderers have taken a few months to gel. Being unable to play at Parramatta Stadium during its extensive redevelopment is another negative for Western Sydney.
Adelaide, Newcastle, Wellington and Central Coast round out the Australian A-League field and, while one thinks that the Jets and the Mariners are likely to improve on what they did last term, neither of them is going to reel in Sydney.
It is well worth backing Sydney at odds of +250 to go back to back in Australian A-League Grand Finals and, if you can find a bookmaker listing the Sky Blues at odds against to top the ladder at the end of the regular season, get on because they should prove their class over the 27 rounds before the knockout contest for the premiership begins.
Sydney to win the Australian A-League Grand Finals