Perth Glory v Newcastle Jets | Saturday 21st December 2019, 08:30 | BT Sport
The A-League is starting to settle down quite nicely with most teams playing around eight or nine games. Sydney FC are leading the way and in quite commanding fashion, and Perth Glory are very much in the chasing pack going into this weekend. Newcastle Jets however find themselves at the other end of the standings and in need of a result to transform their season once more.
Perth Glory certainly started the campaign in rather sluggish fashion. It would be fair to say that they suffered something of a hangover after losing on penalties in the Grand Final last season to Sydney FC, which cost them the chance of winning their second ever title, and in what would have been back-to-back seasons.
One win from their opening seven was disappointing to say the least, but Perth have begun to turn the corner and I do think that the rest of the league should begin to fear them once more. Under the management of former Crystal Palace defender Tony Popovic, they’ve won back-to-back matches, and the 3-0 away win at second in the table Melbourne City looks to have been the turning point for them. They then followed it up with their first home win over Western Sydney Wanderers.
Newcastle Jets recently won consecutive games of their own when defeating Western United and Western Sydney Wanderers. Both came with clean sheets and deservedly claimed maximum points. However, they’ve proved their inconsistency by following those up with back-to-back losses, including 4-0 at home to Melbourne City last time out.
Going into this weekend, only Robbie Fowler’s Brisbane Roar have conceded more than the Jets, who are managed by Edinburgh-born Ernie Merrick. They’re ultimately a side who you cannot completely rely upon, but at the same time they’re just the sort of team to come along and ruin your weekend accumulator! They’re not in a good place right now, however.
Both teams are heading in opposite directions as things stand and Perth are a team that we should be looking to keep on our side for now. That Melbourne City win I do believe could see them go on a run of results, and Newcastle are likely to be severely tested. The Jets did draw at home to Perth earlier in the campaign, a game they did lead until the 86th-minute.
Perth are slowly getting back to their best but I don’t necessarily see them winning this very emphatically. The Jets will be hurting after a 4-0 loss and will be eager to avoid another repeat, especially going away to a tough venue. Only one of 17 games involving these two this season contained at least five goals, so I think Perth Glory and Under 4.5 Goals is a good call when we can get a price of 23/20 (Coral).
Cittadella v Chievo | Saturday 21st December 2019, 14:00
We’ll take one last trip to Italy before Christmas as Serie B once again have a nice card of games for us to get involved with. We made a successful venture into this division when having Chievo on our side a few weeks ago, but they then followed it up with a shock 3-2 home loss to Juve Stabia, a game they led 2-0 at the interval. It gets tougher for them as Cittadella are just above them in the table, but lost to fellow play-off rivals Ascoli last time out.
For a long time now there has been a reputation of defensive football being attached to Italian football. That is not necessarily the case right now, although you can look at the record of certain teams in this league and then perhaps think again! Cittadella are certainly in a battle for promotion and are high up the table, but their games have averaged only 2.25 goals, which is middle to low for this league.
One thing we can say about Cittadella at the moment in time is that they’ve proved especially difficult to beat at home. Quite surprisingly, their two home defeats came to strugglers Spezia and Cosenza, and they’ve possibly under-estimated those opponents or taken their eye off the ball. However, they’ve taken points off two of the current top three, and kept clean sheets each time. They probably benefit from having more of a test, and Chievo should give them that.
Chievo have only lost four league contests this season, but three of those came within their past five games. This suggests that they’re in their worst moment of the campaign so far, and they’re just trying to find a little bit of consistency. Normally they’re a good thing at home, so they’ll be hurting after losing in the manner they did last weekend.
Teams in Serie B don’t tend to travel well, but Chievo has at least avoided defeat in five of their eight on the road. Those two away wins came to opponents inside the bottom-five, and they lost 2-0 at Frosinone, the only side they faced above them in the table away this season. Cittadella are a few spots above Chievo, so some improvement is needed in that regard.
Cittadella are a good team at home, going unbeaten in four, and losing one in seven. I do think they’re more reliable than we can say of Chievo away. However, as I’ve said before, this is a drawing league, so I won’t go full on a home win here. Instead, Cittadella Double Chance and Under 2.5 Goals is the selection at 23/20 (Betway).
Chievo are just stumbling at the minute and mentally they proved their fragility when losing in the manner they did last time out. With this being a top of the table clash, it is likely to be tight and tactical, whilst six of Chievo’s eight away leagues games contained U2.5, whilst three of Cittadella’s last four at home has done so, too.