The Wolf’s Sporting Guide – February 9
A-League, EPL, NBA, Cricket & UFC 221 all covered in this weekend’s edition of The Wolf’s Sporting Guide.
A-League: Western Sydney v Wellington – (Sun 7pm)
This is a catch-up game for a Round 7 fixture that was postponed due to the surface at Spotless Stadium. It presents the chance for the Wanderers to close the gap on the sides above them and put some space between themselves and the bottom 4. A dominant first half against the Mariners allowed them to build a winning lead and The Wolf says they will make the most of a favourable schedule. With matches to follow against Sydney FC and Newcastle, this becomes a must win for the Wanderers! The Wanderers are undefeated in the last 7 matches between the two clubs and that streak will continue. Wellington’s defence was embarrassing last week and their tally of 5 points away from home this season is a league low. Bonevacia will have a point to prove against his former club. His combination with Carrusca and Lustica should be far too much to handle for a Wellington side that lacks any midfield presence. The Wanderers to come out with serious intent and have this one in the bag by half time.
Best: Western Sydney WIN ($2.00)
Man City v Leicester – (Sun 4:30am)
Sterling’s miss of the season went on to cost City as they dropped points away to Burnley but The Wolf says to get used to the league leader’s taking it easy in the closing stages of the season. Their focus will now shift to the UCL, FA Cup and League Cup as the chase for trophies begins. Their 13 point buffer at the top will allow them to do so and this may just be one of those fixtures where Guardiola brings off his players early. They will travel to Switzerland midweek and The Wolf expects some complacency. City are undefeated in their last 25 Premier League matches at Etihad Stadium but it is their attack which has allowed them to maintain that record. They have conceded in 6 of their last 8 league games at home but scored at least 3 in each of their last 5. The Foxes meanwhile have found the back of the net in 8 of their last 9 EPL away games which makes both teams to score red hot value.
Best: Both Teams To Score – YES ($1.72)
Value: Leicester Over 1.5 goals ($4.75)
3rd T20: Australia v England – Sat 7:20pm
It was the ‘Big Show’ in Hobart on Wednesday night as Australia went on to defeat England by 5 wickets, courtesy of a cameo by Glenn Maxwell, with both bat and ball. England looked to be cruising in the second T20, and a real chance to post a score close to 200, but after Eoin Morgan was dismissed, England lost 6/43 to post a moderate total of 155. Maxwell (3/10) picked up the vital wickets of Dawid Malan (50) and Morgan (22), while fellow spinner Ashton Agar recorded figures of 2/15. Maxwell wasn’t done with just the ball as he came out and blasted a match-winning 103* off 58 balls after Australia lost the early wickets of David Warner and Chris Lynn to be 2/4. The match didn’t escape without its fair share of controversy as a catch by Jason Roy while Maxwell was on 59 was overturned by the third umpire. Maxwell now has 143 runs across the first two matches of the Tri-Series and is yet to be dismissed after he made 40* in the opening match against New Zealand. England will be hoping for a better result when the Tri-Series moves to the MCG. Australia has won just two of their past six T20 Internationals at the MCG, losing last year’s T20 by five wickets against Sri Lanka. The Wolf has done some digging and is expecting the spinners to have an impact here like Maxwell and Agar did in Hobart. In Australia’s T20 loss to Sri Lanka, spinners Adam Zampa and Ashton Turner took four of the five Sri Lankan wickets. Throughout the recent Big Bash|07, the Melbourne Stars played five home matches at the MCG and here is how some of the spinners performed. Mitchell Swepson from the Heat had figures of 3/14, Nathan Lyon from the Sixers had figures of 3/18 and Chris Green from the Thunder had figures of 2/27. The Wolf is expecting a big response from England as slight outsiders, and really thinks their batsmen will have a point to prove after some shocking dismissals in Hobart, while Adil Rashid will have a big role to play.
Best: England ($2.20)
Value: Top England Bowler – Adil Rashid ($4)
Southampton v Liverpool – (Mon 3:30am)
This has been dubbed as Southampton A versus Southampton B in recent seasons as Liverpool have stripped their less fancied opponents of virtually all of their star talent. Mane, Clyne, Lovren, Lallana, Lambert and Van Dijk are all products of Southampton. The Wolf says this is the main reason why the bulk of their recent clashes has been extremely tight. The last 5 matches between them across all competitions have produced a total of just 5 goals – a complete anomaly when you consider that Liverpool games average almost 3.5 goals per game. A deeper dive reveals that 4 of the last 5 have produced no more than a single goal and The Wolf believes than one goal could win this. Southampton have gone 7 matches at home without scoring multiple goals and we will see them employ a very defensive mentality in this one. Cedrid and Bertrand hold the key defensively. They must limit the effectiveness of Mane and Salah out wide, restricting Liverpool to shots from range. A boisterous St Mary’s crowd will help frustrate the visitors and The Wolf says there will be no more than a single goal between them. The Unders screams value in this one!
Under 1.5 goals ($4.25)
Tottenham v Arsenal – (Sat 11:30pm)
Spurs managed to walk away with a point from their trip to Anfield thanks to a late equaliser while Arsenal’s season, and future, seems to have been revived! It is early days yet but Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan will more than just boost the Gunners attack and with Ozil putting pen to paper on an extension they will also have stability. They are still a holding midfielder and world class defender away from challenging but it is a huge result when you consider that they were set to lose Sanchez and Ozil for nothing. Arsenal have one of the best home records in the league this season but it is their away form which has been well below par. They have won just 1 of their last 6 away EPL fixtures and have lost their last two – away to Bournemouth and Swansea of all teams. Their 15 away goals is less than half what Liverpool have scored in their travels and leaves them exposed away to a Spurs side that have conceded just 9 goals at home. Under 2.5 goals is 8-3 in the last 11 meetings between the two sides across all competitions and despite all of the firepower on the field, The Wolf will be sticking with it.
Best: Under 2.5 goals ($2.50)
Value: Both Teams To Score – NO ($2.60)
UFC 221: Rockhold v Romero – (Sun 4pm)
The main event of the evening is a bout set for the Interim Middleweight Championship; top ranked contenders Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold do battle for the chance to fight Aussie Robert Whittaker, to unify the belts later this year. Romero is coming off a close loss to Whittaker last July, whereas Rockhold finished David Branch back in September for his last outing. The “Soldier of God” Yoel Romero has swept across the UFC fan base with his aggressive fight style and highlight reel finishes. A Cuban Olympic wrestler, who won a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Games, will be looking to bounce back from his 2nd MMA loss with a big showing against Rockhold. Possessing an MMA record of 12-2, Romero has been devastating in every showing so far, his knockouts of Weidman, Machida, Brunson and Kennedy were nothing short of spectacular. Romero will be looking to end Rockhold’s night with a big shot or devastating ground and pound. Luke Rockhold has been a top contender and Champion for most of his career. A very well rounded fighter, he has shown an ability to end the fight on the ground or standing and is a bad matchup for nearly everyone he meets. His performances against Bisping, Machida and Souza are a great display of the fighting ability he posseses proving the well rounded fighter is still the most effective in MMA. His career culminated with a spectacular 4th round TKO of Chris Weidman to win the title and fans can expect a hungry and ready to fight Rockhold come Feb 11. Either men have multiple ways to win this fight and are truly the two most talented fighters in the division. The betting favourite Rockhold gets the nod for the Wolf.
Best: Rockhold WIN ($1.70)