Western United v Sydney | Sunday 1st December 2019, 13:30 | BT Sport
December is upon us this Sunday and if advent calendars are you thing then why not get up early to beat everyone to the prize and take in some Australian A-League early morning action in the process!
Western United are in their first ever season and have made a more than steady start. Season campaigners and regular title contenders Sydney have once again impressed.
There are a couple of familiar names in the Western Utd ranks which may add some additional appeal to them. Scott McDonald, now 36, played for the likes of Celtic, Middlesbrough, Motherwell and others during his British playing days, whilst captain Alessandro Diamanti, also 36, has West Ham United among his many former clubs.
Truth be told, this is quite an old team. Seven of their regular starters are aged 32 or over, including 37-year-old Andrew Durante. Back-to-back wins over Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers has been responded with consecutive losses versus Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners. Clearly they are a team still looking for some consistency, which is understandable considering how long they’ve been together.
Sydney have no such problems with consistency as they’ve enjoyed five wins from their six league contests so far, with only fourth in the standings Western Sydney gaining any points off them, and that was only 1-0, and in a game Sydney largely dominated. This team are just a well-oiled machine under their boss Steve Corica, a name that Wolves fans will certainly remember.
The one concern for Sydney is that are without a clean sheet this season, but the fact they still keep on winning only highlights how much of a goal threat that they possess. They have six more goals than Western despite playing one game less, but Sydney have conceded only one goal fewer. One issue for Western is also no clean sheet since the opening day, and defensively they’ve looked a little vulnerable of late.
Well, in fact, offensively they have some problems in the sense of them building from the back and having some issues against teams that press. Sydney will almost certainly do this, and as the more talented teams of the two, this points heavily in their favour on Sunday. Sydney have six different goalscorers this season, and so do Western Utd, but Western do rely heavily on Diamanti for creativity, and keeping him quiet will go a long way to Sydney winning.
Sydney are the better of the two teams and I am quite surprised that odds of 7/5 (Unibet) are available on them to win. I personally would have rated them a touch shorter, and they may well be nearer to kick off. The league table now suggests this could be tight, but come the end of the season I expect these two to be separated by quite a distance.
Sochi v Orenburg | Sunday 1st December 2019, 11:00
In our second visit to Russia this weekend, Sochi versus Orenburg presents us with what may seem a bit of a run of the mill sort of game but it is one I expect to deliver the goods. Sochi are playing their first-ever campaign at this level after winning promotion last season as runners-up, whilst Orenburg has been a bit of a yo-yo club between the top two leagues for a few seasons now.
Sochi however have not enjoyed the best of starts to life at this level and they have been taught a few lessons after life in the big time. They sit bottom of the table after 17 games, earning only three victories in that period. Only three teams have conceded more and four teams have scored less than Sochi heading into this weekend.
A run of six without a win for Sochi is clearly not what they would have wanted but an away point at Ufa last time out further enhanced their quite good away record. Their big issue in fact is what they’ve been doing in front of their own fans, or what they haven’t done in home games. They’ve lost five of their seven home games.
Orenburg are in mid-table and they’d be relatively happy to end the season in this position. They finished 7th last season which was quite an achievement for them and they’re only two points off that respective spot in the table as things stand. They’re ultimately inconsistent, which is why they are mid-table, but one win in their last five in the league is disappointing considering only Krasnodar are a strong side of the teams faced in that time.
Much like Sochi, Orenburg much prefer it away from home. Of their five wins, three came away, and they’re on a run of five away without defeat in all competitions, including a win at Spartak Moscow. They’ve scored at least two goals in three of their previous four away, too. Goals aren’t a problem for them as they’ve only failed to score three times. Therefore, there is one bet which often pays out in Orenburg matches.
That selection is Both Teams to Score, and that has to be our play at 19/20 (Coral) for Sunday’s game. The odds are just too good to ignore knowing that Orenburg as seen 13/17 where BTTS has paid out. It pays out less in Sochi games, but is has done so in four of their last five league contests. Sochi will push to win given their situation, whilst Orenburg has seen all eight away league encounters end in BTTS, too.