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Simon Hill joins our panel: The Roar's A-League tips and predictions, Round 1

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Expert
17th November, 2021
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After the longest of off-seasons imaginable, season 2021-22 of the newly rebranded A-League Men’s competition is finally here.

New broadcasters and sponsors have the league seemingly on the verge of a new frontier and with changes aplenty across the 12 teams, tipping winners may well prove to be even more difficult than ever.

It is exciting to welcome Network Ten lead commentator Simon Hill to the tipping panel and along with football writer Mike Tuckerman, football fiction author Texi Smith and yours truly, there should be something of a feisty and entertaining chase for tipping glory in the season ahead.

Good luck with your tips for the opening round of fixtures and be sure to enter those selections into the tipping sheet below to have a say as the always reliable voice of the crowd. Here are the tips and thoughts of the panel as we head into the first of 26 match weeks of A-League Men’s action.

Simon Hill
City, Sydney Derby Draw, Perth, Macarthur, Victory, F3 Derby Draw

Melbourne City look decent bets to at least challenge Brisbane & Sydney’s record of being the only back-to-back champions. Whether any of their Socceroos will feature in this opening game is unclear, but they have good depth, and the likes of Stefan Colakovski & Marco Tilio will relish the opportunity. Roar have done well in the FFA Cup, but have they got enough goals in them? Can Cyrus Dehmie be the missing link? It all points to a City home win

Carl Robinson is in the last-chance saloon at the Wanderers – he needs to start well, but that’s by no means a given against a Sydney team who will doubtless challenge once again. Jack Rodwell’s signing is an interesting one – if fit, he will be a great asset – but for this game, much will depend upon Ziggy Gordon & Rhys Williams’ ability to keep the likes of Adam Le Fondre & Bobo quiet. A noisy CommBank Stadium should mean a tight contest, with the draw the likeliest outcome.

A full HBF Park could be key for Perth Glory too, as they welcome Daniel Sturridge to the fold, fresh from quarantine and a trip to a very nervous barber. Richard Garcia has recruited well, with Brad Jones & Brandon O’Neill’s return the standouts, but is their defence strong enough? Adelaide have been winning in the Cup (in other breaking news, night follows day), and I think they’ll have a decent campaign, but I’m tipping Perth to get the money in the west.

The Battle of the Bridge has belonged to Western United since it started – but I have a feeling this may change. Tony Popovic has put together a useful looking squad, although much will depend upon the ability to hit the ground running of the likes of Matt Spiranovic & Jason Davidson – neither of which has played too much football of late. Western have arguably the best import list of any A-League Men’s club. I particularly like the look of Rene Krhin and Aleksandar Prijovic, but I think Victory have a big point to prove, and I think they will make a statement.

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Macarthur have had an interesting off-season away from the pitch, but Wellington look to be a little thin after the departure of Ulises Davila, Tomer Hemed, Steven Taylor and Stefan Marinovic. The Bulls have had poor pre-season results, but bounced back in the Cup against Newcastle Olympic – I think they’ll be victorious in Campbelltown.

The Jets and Mariners both enter the new campaign under new coaches. It’s a tall order for Nick Montgomery to top Alen Stajcic’s third placed finish last term. He has a promising crop of youngsters and some interesting imports (Moresche, Nkololo) who could turn out to be Broich, or Jardel. The Jets are rebuilding and are an unknown quantity. Draw.

Mike Tuckerman
City, Draw, Sydney, Perth, Newcastle, Macarthur

Defending champions Melbourne City enjoy the honour of kicking off the season and they do so against a Brisbane Roar side that remains as enigmatic as ever. City have been without ex-Roar striker Jamie Maclaren and star signing Mathew Leckie in the build-up to this clash, but even so, it’s hard to see them recording anything but three points against a Roar side that looks like a bit of a mystery this season.

John Aloisi and Tony Popovic enjoyed plenty of good times with the Socceroos and the duo return as new coaches of Western United and Melbourne Victory respectively.

Tony Popovic

Ex-WSW boss Tony Popovic is at the helm for Victory (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Both sides failed to live up to expectations last season, with Victory conceding a league-worst 60 goals in 26 games. The big question mark over Western United is whether the lack of a genuine home ground will seriously hurt their chances this season. They’re back in Geelong for this clash, which could finish all square.

Western Sydney Wanderers should be the big improvers this season. That’s partly because they’re coming off such a low base after finishing eighth last campaign and also partly because they’re likely to be backed by decent crowds at a re-energised CommBank Stadium in Parramatta.

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They’ve only lost once in their last seven derby outings, but that was in the most recent clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground. With Bobo and Adam Le Fondre both available, I’m tipping the Sky Blues to claim all three points once again.

Make it count, Perth Glory fans, because this is the only home fixture you’ll be seeing for a while. The Western Australian government don’t seem particularly keen on welcoming visitors across the Nullarbor but tickets have been flying out the door for this one in the hopes of catching ex-Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge in action.

The former England international is no doubt lacking in match fitness, but Glory simply have too many reasons to claim all three points in this opening-round blockbuster.

There are plenty of unknowns surrounding the Jets, but on paper they’ve got an interesting mix of battle-hardened A-League regulars and a few foreign signings who could genuinely take the competition by storm. The Mariners look shorter on quality and worse still, they’ll watch former star Sam Silvera don a Newcastle jersey.

The Jets to claim a derby win.

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After an off-season of discontent, Macarthur FC have the chance to put a few rumours to bed when they close out the round against a Wellington Phoenix side once again forced into a perpetual road trip for the foreseeable future.

The Bulls lost plenty of experience at the end of last season, but they’ve more than made up for it by signing the likes of Filip Kurto, Craig Noone, Jordan Mutch, Tomi Juric and Al Hassan Toure. But all eyes will be on ex-Phoenix star Ulises Davila, who could prove the difference here.

Stuart Thomas
City, Victory, Sydney, Adelaide, Newcastle, Macarthur

Anyone brave enough to tip against the champions in their opening fixture of the season needs their head read. A settled Patrick Kisnorbo squad should prove a little too polished for a Roar team requiring a few months to gel and settle into the style that Warren Moon wants to see them play.

I’m tipping an explosive start for the Victory under Tony Popovic and a serious tilt at the championship. Western United have recruited well, yet the sheer depth of the Victory squad should see them become a certain top-six contender and worthy of three points to start the season.

The Wanderers’ recent Sydney Derby dominance will be further dented on Saturday night in the first Network Ten blockbuster broadcast of the season. A stable Sydney FC will prove too strong for a Western Sydney squad nowhere near its best considering all their new signings.

Adam le Fondre celebrates a goal

Will Sydney prove too strong at CommBank on Saturday? (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

3-0 to the Sky Blues and the Wanderers to bounce back later in the season.

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Perth look destined for a troubled campaign, barring a serious impact from Daniel Sturridge and Bruno Fornaroli up front. That could well happen, yet appears unlikely to occur right from the off and a professional Adelaide should nab the points on the road. Carl Veart will be hoping his team is at least capable of a repeat semi-final appearance this season and the young talent at his disposal could well make that happen.

Newcastle had a broom put through the playing ranks during the off-season and the Mariners signed some mysterious and interesting names for 2021-22. Who knows which team wins this derby? Logic might suggest to pick a draw, yet something tells me the murmurs emanating from Newcastle around the impressive start Arthur Papas has made as an A-League Men’s manager may well see the boys in gold start the season with a bang.

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Macarthur have brought in an impressive list of new signings and Wellington has lost its major weapon for the upcoming season. Many feel the Phoenix will struggle and some, like me, believe the Bulls are about to mount a serious challenge at the title. They will start in the best way possible with three points at Campbelltown Stadium.

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Texi Smith
City, United, Draw, Perth, Central Coast, Macarthur

The return of Friday night footy in Round 1 is a chance for Melbourne City to show what they’ve got in the locker this year; like a bully making their intentions known on the first day back at school.

With Mathew Leckie joining Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout in attack this season, as well as the exciting Nathan Atkinson, Stefan Colakovski, Marco Tilio and new boy Manuel Pucciarelli, this team looks the early favourite for the championship. The Roar boast a new look attack in speedsters Nikola Mileusnic and Luke Ivanovic, but tonight will comfortably belong to the reigning premiers.

The gifts bestowed upon Western United in their FFA Cup game last weekend will not be forthcoming when they go up against a new-look Melbourne Victory on Saturday evening. Alessandro Diamanti’s former stablemate Rene Krihn looks like a perfect addition to a squad filled with talent.

Alessandro Diamanti of Western United FC looks on

(Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

In Neil Kilkenny they have a general and Jamie Young is a major coup. It could all come unstuck though against Victory, whose supporters are most excited about dreamboat Chris Ikonomidis joining from Perth Glory. Western United to pip the Victory in a rollercoaster 3-2 win with Dylan Pieiras netting the clincher.

For those who have seen Sydney FC in pre-season, things look good. The Sky Blues have replaced their towering defender Ryan McGowan with James Donachie, the enigmatic Elvis Kamsoba looks sharp and the return of Adam Le Fondre makes this as potent an attack as the A-League Men’s has seen.

For the Wanderers, the clever Ramy Najjarine, bustling Tomer Hemed and former Sydney FC player and now arch-nemesis Terry Antonis will combine to be an unpredictable force. This game, in front of a full house in Parramatta, will be a cracker. A late equaliser from sub Milos Ninkovic will silence the RBB and both teams will be happy with a point from a tricky opening fixture.

Perth have an exciting squad. Brandon O’Neill is an excellent signing and a youthful Brad Jones comes in to push Liam Reddy for a starting berth. Up front is where the action is: Daniel Sturridge, Andy Keogh, Bruno Fornaroli and a host of other quality options giving the Glory an embarrassment of riches.

The visitors will have James Delianov as their rock in goal and they have the firepower to really test the Glory’s defence. Isaias Sanchez returns to boss the midfield with the abrasive Stefan Mauk and an attack comprising Craig Goodwin and Mohamed Toure will have freedom to entertain.

(Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

I’m going for a Perth Glory win here by three, Daniel Stynes scoring from the bench. Hopefully 7-4, but we’ll settle for 3-0.

The revolving door at Newcastle will make no difference whatsoever to their chances. The Jets endured a miserable time last season and it could continue in 2021-22 as their band of nearly-men try to form a connection to hit the ground running in this intriguing opening day derby. The exciting Olivier Boumal looks an interesting addition, but it is the new-look defence that may give the Jets fans most hope.

The Mariners have built on their amazing turnaround last season, despite losing some key players. Cy Goddard is a fascinating signing; this could be the move he needs to flourish and fulfil that potential, and Nikolai Muller is one name we didn’t expect to see at Central Coast Stadium this year. We know exactly what he can do.

With Marco Urena and Matt Simon in attack, and Josh Nisbet alongside Oliver Bozanic, there is much to love about the Mariners. This is a game where anything could happen, but Central Coast will prevail, a late comeback turning around a one-goal deficit into a 2-1 win.

Macarthur Bulls have a new strike force and it is exciting. Ulises Davila, Tomi Juric and Al-Hassan Toure are big signings, along with the brilliant Daniel De Silva and the forever fresh-faced Craig Noone. The clear-out of the old guard signals a bright future.

The visitors will enjoy a nomadic existence at least until the New Year; it will be tough but everyone will be hoping they do well. The quality of players that have left the club, including Davila, has not been matched with the calibre of those coming in, although in Luka Prso they have a very good signing and Nicholas Pennington may be a name that surprises many.

With Reno Piscopo and Jaushua Sotirio capable of unlocking a defence, Macarthur will be wary of Wellington’s ability to spoil the party. A single goal will seal an opening day win; who else but Davila dancing through the defence to open his account for the Bulls and set the bells ringing.

Match Week 1 Mike Simon Stuart Texi The Crowd
MCY vs BRI MCY MCY MCY MCY MCY
WUN vs MVC DRAW MVC MVC WUN MVC
WSW vs SYD SYD DRAW SYD DRAW SYD
PER vs ADL PER PER ADL PER PER
NEW vs CCM NEW DRAW NEW CCM NEW
MAC vs WEL MAC MAC MAC MAC MAC
Previous total 0 0 0 0 0
New total 0 0 0 0 0

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