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Can anyone challenge Perth Glory for A-League success?

Perth Glory

Last week, Perth Glory consolidated their position at the top of the A-League table and stretched their lead to six points following their workmanlike win over second placed Sydney. With them brushing aside their closest competitors with such relative ease, it certainly appears that they already have one hand on the A-League trophy. Can anyone beat them?

Odds-on for the league

If you consider the regular season only, it is becoming increasingly difficult to see Perth being overtaken at the top of the table, despite the fact that the season is not even at its half-way point. Following last week’s result, Unibet shortened the odds on them continuing their winning streak still further, and they are now 23/17 on to finish the regular season at the top of the pile. Sydney remain the bookmaker’s tip as best of the rest, with Melbourne Victory just a little way behind.

Post season, all bets are off

In this respect, Western Australians could be forgiven for wishing that the A-League would follow the format of the English Premier League, in which finishing the season at the top of the table is all that is required to hold the Premier League cup aloft. Given that the Glory started the season as dark horses at best and even outsiders, they are in an enviable position. But going into post season can have the effect of pressing the reset button.

Perth missed out on the finals entirely last year and were defeated 3-0 by Sydney in the semi finals the season before. In fact, the runner up spot in 2012 is the best result the Glory have managed to achieve in tournament history. Compare that with the records of their closest rivals and you begin to understand why the bookmakers are still keeping their powder relatively dry.

Taking on the proven finishers

While Perth have historically been regulars in the “also ran” stakes, their closest rivals in the table are proven winners. Sydney, Melbourne Victory and Brisbane have between them won 10 of the 13 A-League titles since the league’s inception. A look at the current standings shows that it is increasingly improbable that Brisbane will be joining the party for the finals this year, but Victory and Sydney are all but guaranteed a spot.

So does this mean that Glory’s regular season dominance will stand for nothing in the post season battles? Not necessarily. It is worth noting that in eight out of 13 seasons, the team to finish at the top of the table has also gone on to clinch the title, so it would be disingenuous to discount the importance of regular season form.

However, perhaps the most telling stat of all is that only one of those title winners came from outside the “Big Three” teams. In other words, on the five occasions that a more lowly team has finished top of the table, only once have they gone on to clinch the title. Perth are looking stronger than anyone, but the job is not even half done yet.

 

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avatarThis post was written by a Staff Writer for Ultimate A-League

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