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The bookies have last season's grand finalists as the favourites to take out the 2013-14 A-League crown, but our betting expert Paul Gough can guide you in the direction of value

The bookies are predicting little change to the A-League pecking order if early title betting is any indication, with the new season set to get underway in just over a fortnight.

Last season's champions in the Central Coast Mariners and the team that ended the season with the Premier's Plate by finishing on top of the ladder in the Western Sydney Wanderers are the equal $4.25 favourites to win this season's A-League grand final at leading bookmakers bet365.

Then comes perennial contenders Melbourne Victory, which finished third last season, at odds of $5.50 ahead of Brisbane and Sydney, both at $8.

The team that has been written off this season by the bookies is Adelaide United under their new manager, Spaniard Josep Gombau, a youth coach with connections at La Liga powerhouse Barcelona.

Despite finishing fourth last season, the Reds are only on the equal sixth line of betting at $13 with Perth Glory.

Melbourne Heart - despite the recruitment of ageing favourite Harry Kewell - are rated a distant $15 to win this season's grand final ahead of only Newcastle at $21 and Wellington Phoenix at $26.

The Phoenix now have Melbourne Victory's former title-winning manager Ernie Merrick in charge and can be expected to improve although it would be asking a bit much of even the highly-rated Merrick to lift the Phoenix from last to first in the space of a season.

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Central Coast deserve to be premiership favourites and begin the new A-League season as the team to beat at $4.25 at bet365.

 

Brisbane Roar are definitely the best value in title betting at bet365 at odds of $8.


The Mariners under Graham Arnold still look the team to beat despite the loss of their top goalkeeper Mat Ryan to Europe as well as rising star Bernie Ibini to Chinese club Shanghai East Asia.

But the Mariners have been boosted by the return of their proven goal-scorer Matt Simon from Korean club Chunnam Dragons.

And they have signed Argentine star Marco Flores - the winner of the Jonny Warren Medal with Adelaide in the 2010-11 season - from Melbourne Victory, while experienced Dutchman Marcel Seip arrives to boost the defence.

The Wanderers were sensational in their debut season, coming so close to winning the title in their maiden campaign, but it would not be a surprise if they found the going tougher in season two when they no longer have the element of surprise.

And with the jury out on Victory's recruitment in the off-season, it would not be a surprise if Brisbane emerged as the Mariners' major challengers this season.

The Roar were the dominant team in the competition in winning the 2011 and 2012 titles but struggled in their first season without title-winning manager Ange Postecoglou following his move to Melbourne Victory last season.

But Brisbane finished last season strongly once Mike Mulvey took over from Rado Vidosic to make the finals and the Roar will be boosted this season by the return of Socceroo Matt McKay.

And they still have a host of experienced top-quality players in their squad, led by goalkeeper Michael Theo, defenders Matt Smith, Shane Stefanutto and Jade North, German midfielder Thomas Broich and Albanian striker Besart Berisha.

*Note prices subject to change

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