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Previewing the 2020/21 A-League Season

| November 29, 2020 4:37 am PDT
2020/21 A-League Season Preview

Fear not, Australian soccer fans! The 2020/21 A-League season is right around the corner.

Four months after Sydney FC’s famous extra-time victory over Melbourne City in last term’s Grand Final, the new campaign is set to kick off on December 27.

Macarthur FC takes the total number of A-League teams to 12 this year, with Western United heading into their second season following a hugely successful maiden campaign.

In this 2020/21 A-League season preview, I cover everything you need to know about the upcoming campaign. I discuss all the latest news, transfers, and odds, as well as looking at a number of star players.

2020/21 A-League Season Overview

The new A-League season gets underway on Sunday, December 27, and will run until May 31.

Interestingly, a brand-new local derby will kick off the campaign. Newcomer Macarthur FC faces Western Sydney Wanderers on the opening day, with Sydney FC and Melbourne City playing a rematch of last term’s Grand Final three days later.

Of course, Macarthur’s entry into the league is the biggest talking point heading into the 2020/21 season. But there is plenty of other news to discuss.

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, New Zealand side Wellington Phoenix will be based in New South Wales for the foreseeable future, playing their home matches at Wollongong’s WIN Stadium.

The pandemic has also affected Perth Glory. The Western Australians have been competing in the AFC Champions League in Qatar, meaning they won’t play their first A-League game until January 16. A two-week quarantine period will delay the start of their domestic campaign.

On a brighter note, fans will be allowed back into stadiums in 2021. The previous season ended behind closed doors, but due to the improving health situation in Australia, supporters will be able to cheer on their team next year.

What We Learned Last Season – 2019/20 Recap

If there is one thing that the previous campaign taught us, it’s that Sydney FC is going to be difficult to stop this season.

After finishing six points clear at the top of the Premiership standings, the Sky Blues clinched their third Championship in four years by beating Melbourne City in the Grand Final. Not only were Steve Corica’s men the top scorers in the division, but they also conceded the fewest goals.

At the other end of the table, Central Coast Mariners finished bottom for the third straight season. Four-time champions Melbourne Victory also endured a dismal campaign, ending up tenth – the lowest A-League finish in the club’s history.

On the flip side, Wellington Phoenix recorded their highest-ever finish. Ufuk Talay’s side claimed third place, with top-six regulars Brisbane Roar, Perth Glory, and Adelaide United all trailing behind.

Meanwhile, Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney Wanderers both missed out on the Finals Series by a handful of points.

But perhaps most notably, Western United stunned everyone by finishing fifth in their maiden top-flight campaign. Led by veterans Besart Berisha and Alessandro Diamanti, the Melbourne-based newcomers even reached the semi-finals of the Finals Series.

Offseason Moves – Player Transfers and New Coaches

As expected, every A-League club has been busy during the offseason. There have been plenty of high-profile player transfers, along with a number of managerial changes.

You can find a comprehensive list of all the offseason changes here. But if you don’t want to waste time scouring the full list, I have covered all the major moves below.

Managerial Changes

  • Melbourne City – Patrick Kisnorbo replaced Erick Mombaerts on September 3
  • Perth Glory – Richard Garcia replaced Tony Popovic on September 18
  • Western Sydney Wanderers – Carl Robinson replaced Jean-Paul de Marigny on October 15

It is worth mentioning that Melbourne Victory has promoted Grant Brebner from caretaker to head coach, while Adelaide United has made the same move with Carl Veart.

Macarthur FC has appointed Ante Milicic ahead of their debut campaign, while Newcastle is still searching for a new manager following Carl Robinson’s switch to WSW.

Notable Player Transfers

  • Spanish duo Markel Susaeta and Benat Exebarria have joined Macarthur FC
  • The Bulls have also signed homegrown stars Adam Federici, Mark Milligan, and Tommy Oar
  • English pair Jacob Butterfield and Callum McManaman have joined Melbourne Victory
  • Former EPL player Rudy Gestede has also teamed up with the Navy Blues
  • Andy Keogh has returned to Perth Glory following spells in Saudi Arabia and India
  • Melbourne City has signed Aiden O’Neill from Premier League side Burnley
  • Joe Champness and Riku Danaki have been snapped up by Brisbane Roar
  • Former La Liga star Javi Lopez has joined Adelaide United from Espanyol

Notable outgoings include Adam Le Fondre, who has left Sydney FC to join Mumbai City FC. Melbourne City has also lost a player to the Indian Super League, with Gary Hooper signing for Kerala Blasters.

Following an outstanding breakthrough season, Wellington lost highly-rated left-back Liberato Cacace to Belgian club Sint-Truiden back in August. Riley McGree has also left the A-League, leaving Adelaide for Birmingham.

2020/21 A-League Winner Odds

It’s now time to take a look at the outright winner odds for the 2020/21 A-League season.

Unsurprisingly, the bookmakers are favoring Sydney FC to defend their crown in the upcoming campaign. But Melbourne City isn’t too far behind in the odds list.

After exceeding all expectations in their debut season, Western United is the third-favorite to win the Championship next year.

For a more in-depth look at the bookies’ prices and analysis of every team, head over to my 2020/21 A-League odds post.

Who Will Win the League This Season?

It is difficult to imagine anyone stopping Sydney FC again this term. However, there is a sense that Melbourne City stands the best chance of ending the Sky Blues’ recent supremacy over Australian soccer.

That said, Western United is definitely worth keeping an eye on. The newcomers burst onto the scene last season, and with a full A-League campaign in the tank, Mark Rudan’s men will be even more experienced this time around.

After seeing what Western United achieved last term, Macarthur will be confident of ruffling a few feathers on their maiden A-League voyage, although challenging for the title may be a step too far.

Perth, Adelaide, and Brisbane will all be looking for a sense of stability, with each club heading into 2020/21 under the guidance of a new coach. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t compete for silverware.

As for Melbourne Victory, the fallen giant will simply be hoping to restore some pride following a disastrous 2019/20 season. I can’t see Grant Brebner’s men impacting the title race next year.

Can Anyone Beat Sydney FC to the 2020/21 A-League Title?

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Key Players to Watch in 2020/21

Below are eight players who I believe are destined to shine in the upcoming season. I have chosen to feature a few experienced regulars, but there are also a number of exciting young prospects to look out for.

  • Jamie Maclaren – Melbourne City
  • Ulises Davila – Wellington Phoenix
  • Joel King – Sydney FC
  • Besart Berisha – Western United
  • Dylan Wenzel-Halls – Brisbane Roar
  • Callum McManaman – Melbourne Victory
  • Benat Etxebarria – Macarthur FC
  • Angus Thurgate – Newcastle Jets

Having won the Golden Boot last term, Jamie Maclaren is an obvious selection. The Melbourne City forward bagged 22 goals in 23 regular-season outings, and I’m expecting him to add to his impressive A-League tally in the coming months.

Youngsters Joel King, Dylan Wenzel-Halls, and Angus Thurgate all look set for breakthrough years, while Ulises Davila is likely to enjoy another stellar year after guiding the Nix to a third-place finish in the previous campaign.

If you want to learn more about these players, check out my 8 A-League players to watch in 2020/21.

Betting on the A-League

Ever since I started betting on soccer, I have always enjoyed wagering on the A-League. Australian soccer always dishes up surprises, making the odds for the games very attractive.

All the top online betting sites offer odds for the A-League, so make sure you shop around at the leading sportsbooks and find the best prices.

For now, you can wager on the 2020/21 outright winner. But with the fixtures for the upcoming season recently being released, it won’t be long before the bookies allow you to bet on the first round of matches.

When the season gets underway, you will be able to find free betting picks for every A-League game in our soccer picks section.

Don’t forget, the new campaign kicks off on Sunday, December 27. Hopefully, this 2020/21 A-League season preview has helped you get up to speed with everything you need to know!

Ben Morris
Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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