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Australian Football: Race for Finals hots up

There are just two games of the regular A-League season remaining and we are in for an exciting climax as the race to make the top six hots up.

Melbourne City have already been crowned minor premiers and will now turn focus to finals, but below them, there is still a lot to sort out. 

The big question is who will play in finals, as just four points separate Wellington Phoenix in fifth spot and Perth Glory in ninth. So in effect there are five teams battling for the last two spots in the top six. 

As for who picks up the wooden spoon, it looks to be between Melbourne Victory and Macarthur FC, and both teams go head-to-head at AAMI Park on Sunday. 

There is also one game on Monday to conclude Matchday 25. That sees Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC play each other and the visitors will know exactly what they need to do with the teams below them having already played. 

It is another bumper weekend with the remaining five games played from Friday to Sunday, so let’s take a closer look at the match-ups.

Big showdown in Sydney

WhatWestern Sydney Wanderers v Wellington Phoenix
WhereCommBank Stadium, Sydney
When19:45 (AEST), Friday 21st April, 2023
How to watchParamount+
OddsWestern Sydney Wanderers 1.75, Draw 3.80, Wellington Phoenix 4.75

It is a huge game for both sides as the Wanderers, who sit in fourth, still have a chance of clinching second spot, while the Phoenix have work to do to make sure of a place in the top six. 

Both teams will also be keen to improve their form heading into the business end of the season. Western Sydney’s form has been patchy with a win over Victory last game, which followed a draw with Macarthur and a loss to Adelaide United. 

Wellington have not won in the last four games and have conceded 12 goals in the process. They have conceded 41 in total this season and over 2.5 goals can be backed at 1.72.

Jets eager to build on Macarthur victory

WhatNewcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners
WhereMcDonald Jones Stadium, Sydney
When17:00 (AEST) Saturday 22nd April, 2023
How to watchParamount+
OddsNewcastle Jets 3.30, Draw 3.50, Central Coast Mariners 2.15

Newcastle Jets gave their chances of making the top six a huge boost with a dramatic late win over Macarthur last week. 

However they now face a tough couple of games against the Mariners and Sydney, and are priced at 4.50 to make the top six.  

The Mariners have won three of the last five games to stay in third spot on the ladder, and they need to win the last two games. The good news is they play second-placed Adelaide in the last game of the season. 

Central Coast drew 1-1 with Melbourne City last week and should be feeling good about themselves heading into this game.

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Pressure on for Western

WhatWestern United FC v Melbourne City
WhereAAMI Park, Melbourne
When19:45 (AEST) Saturday 22nd April, 2023
How to watchParamount+, 10Bold
OddsWestern United FC 4.33, Draw 3.80, Melbourne City 1.75

Western United could do with a couple of wins if they are to jump into the top six and they have shown they are capable following a shock 1-0 win at Adelaide last week. 

Now they will be hoping to do the same to Melbourne City, who could be forgiven for taking the foot off the gas in the last couple of games. 

The concern for Western is they are still guilty of shipping goals with Sydney and the Mariners both scoring three against them in recent games. 

They will be up against the most feared attack in the competition with the league’s top goalscorer Jamie Maclaren priced at 1.57 to score anytime.  

Western can also hit the goal trail when they click, and over 2.5 goals in the game can be backed at 1.50

Battle to avoid wooden spoon

WhatMelbourne Victory v Macarthur FC
WhereAAMI Park, Melbourne
When15:00 (AEST) Sunday 24th April, 2023
How to watchParamount+, 10Bold
OddsMelbourne Victory 1.53, Draw 4.50, Macarthur FC 5.75

With both sides chances of pulling off an unlikely place in the top six now over, attention turns to avoiding the wooden spoon. 

Victory sit rock bottom after failing to win in their last three, and are one point behind the Bulls, who are in 11th spot. 

Literally anything could happen in this game. With pride on the line there is a lot to play for but both have struggled to hit any kind of consistent form this season. 

Macarthur have not won in the last five games, and although they have picked up two wins on the road, the last of those was way back on Christmas Eve. 

Home advantage and a leaky Macarthur defence could get Melbourne Victory home. Victory have been far from prolific though and under 2.5 goals can be backed at 2.37

Glory looking for response

WhatPerth Glory v Adelaide United
WhereHBF Park, Perth
When18:00 (AEST) Sunday 24th April, 2023
How to watchParamount+
OddsPerth Glory 3.10, Draw 3.60, Adelaide United 2.25

Perth Glory missed a great chance to jump into the top six last week and were hammered 4-1 by Sydney FC instead. 

They are now four points behind sixth spot and another season without finals looks to be on the cards for the men in the west. 

Adelaide will be keen to bounce back from a shock defeat to Western United and there is still work to do to hang on to second spot. 

Glory are better at home but they concede way too many goals and a fearsome Adelaide attack will be out to run wild on Sunday. 

Craig Goodwin remains the Reds' top scorer this season and can be backed at 3.00 to score at anytime. 

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