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A-League preview - Week 1

The 2010/11 A-League season kicks off tonight with new club Melbourne Heart hosting the Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park and Wellington Phoenix having the bye.

Melbourne Heart v Central Coast Mariners Thursday August 5, AAMI Park, 7:30pm AEST

The Heart will be out to show their new fans and the entire football community that hey mean business by taking three points from their first competitive match.

Their pre-season form has been solid after getting the squad together in the past month or so and they certainly have the players to cause a few headaches this season.

On the other hand, the Mariners have installed a new coach in former Socceroos assistant Graham Arnold and have added some quality to their list and won't want to get caught up in the Heart's historic day so will be going all out for a win of their own.

But I can see the Heart getting a dream start and being triumphant in week one of the brand new season. Verdict: Heart's attacking style to provide them with a debut 2-1 win.

Adelaide United v Newcastle Jets Friday August 6, Hindmarsh Stadium, 8:00pm AEST

Last season's wooden spooners take on one of the finalists from 2009/10 in a very intriguing encounter.

Both clubs have had a number of changes in the off-season with the most notable one being Adelaide's switch of coach from Aurelio Vidmar to Dutchman Rini Coolen.

It is expected that the Reds will play with a typical Dutch formation of 4-3-3 with attacking wingers and quick passing and movement which may see them trouble the scorers more than they did last term and it could provide problems for the Jets who were last season's second-worst defensive team.

But they have added depth and attacking quality of their own and could be capable of scoring goals but it is very hard to pick so early in the season and a draw is the safest option here. Verdict: Adelaide and Newcastle to draw 1-1.

Perth Glory v North Queensland Fury Friday August 6, NIB Stadium, 10:00pm AEST

This match features Perth Glory recruit Robbie Fowler up against his former club the Fury.

Ticket sales are going well for the Western Australians with about 15,000 expected to show up to see the ex-Liverpool star on show and I feel that the pre-season buzz centred around Fowler and the Glory may be vindicated here.

The Fury have undergone an enormous turnover of players in the off-season and will be starting afresh with a brand new playing list and new head coach in Franz Straka and they may take a while to get going.

This could be the perfect time for the Glory to get an early confidence-booster but they too will not be at their peak and any sort of win will suffice. Verdict: Glory to be too good for the Fury to win 2-0.

Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory Saturday August 7, Sydney Football Stadium, 8:00pm AEST

The 2009/10 Grand Final rematch promises to be another classic between these rival clubs.

Sydney probably hold the ascendency here even though a number of their Premiership stars have left including Simon Colosimo, Clint Bolton, Karol Kisel and John Aloisi as the Victory go about navigating the terrain without star striker Archie Thompson who is injured as a result of that Grand Final.

Sky Blues boss Vitezslav Lavicka has confirmed he has a full roster to choose from whilst Melbourne only have Thompson and Kemp out of action and Ernie Merrick should have a strong squad to select his line-up from.

Hopefully it as an enthralling contest like the past few have been but once again it's too hard to call this early and a draw is on the cards. Verdict:Sydney and Melbourne to draw 1-1

Gold Coast United v Brisbane Roar Sunday August 8, Skilled Park, 3:00pm AEST

Gold Coast United should be good enough to grab an early win as they look to improve on their third-place finish in their debut season.

They have stabilised much of their squad from last term and somehow managed to retain dual A-League Golden Boot winner Shane Smeltz who looked set for China meaning a large percentage of players will know the game plan inside out whilst the Roar will be finding their feet after making plenty of changes.

Ange Postecoglou's men may have a number of men without A-League experience and they may need time to work out the landscape which could give Miron Bleiberg's United the perfect opportunity to pounce and grab three points to kick off the season. Verdict: Gold Coast 1-0 over the Roar.

Wellington Phoenix - bye

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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