After such a dominant start to the season, December could see Sydney FC's commanding lead on top of the A-League undermined as they face a series of tricky matches, including this Sunday's away trip to Newcastle.
The Sky Blues may still be unbeaten, but they have looked vulnerable in the past fortnight with draws against Brisbane and Adelaide. They travel three times in December, including back-to-back trips to Perth and Adelaide, while their two home matches are against second-place Melbourne City and fourth-place Brisbane Roar.
Given they are still four points clear on top of the table, it is little surprise the Sky Blues are still favorites to win the championship according to website AustralianGambling.com.au, but the fact they are still backable at $4 shows that doubts remain over their ability to maintain their strong start to the season.
That is enhanced by a kind December draw to both Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory. City play three games at home with away trips to the Sky Blues and the Mariners, while the Victory, who are seven points behind Sydney but have a game in hand, play three of four games in Melbourne.
Five weeks ago, Sydney easily beat Newcastle 2-0 in Newcastle, and the Jets haven't won since. They return to the Hunter on Sunday afternoon as $1.65 favorites having won their past six against the Jets and having not conceded a goal against them in 371 minutes. The Jets are $4.65 and the draw is at $3.70.
City can put some pressure on the Sky Blues with a win against the Roar on Saturday night. These two met in Brisbane four weeks ago with the Roar grinding out a 1-0 win, but AAMI Park is likely to be a different matter.
The oddsmakers have City as $1.95 favorites and little wonder when you consider the Roar haven't won against them at this venue since the then-Melbourne Heart were in their infancy at the start of the 2010-11 campaign. A draw is rated a $3.50 chance, marginally longer than a Roar win, which is at $3.45.
Twenty-four hours earlier at the same venue, Melbourne Victory host a Perth Glory team on a horrid away run. Glory have lost three away games on the bounce, while they have conceded 10 goals in four away games this season.
Given it's a clash of the A-League second best attack and its worst defense, it is not surprising Victory are $1.60 favorites, with the Glory at $4.65 and the draw at $4.
But a couple of key things are worth considering. Glory did win at AAMI Park (against City) earlier this season and haven't lost to Victory at this venue in the A-League since December 2013.
Central Coast will be looking to build on the momentum of their 2-0 win over Perth Glory last week when they host Western Sydney.
The Wanderers secured their fifth draw in eight games against the Roar last week and go into this match as $2 favorites despite trailing the Mariners on the table. Another Mariners home win is priced at $3.30 while the draw, which seems good value given WSW's efforts this season, is at $3.50.
And Adelaide are $1.82 to break through for their first win of the season when they host second-from-the-bottom Wellington on Sunday. The Phoenix are $3.80 with the draw at $3.60.