Brisbane Roar v Western Sydney Wanderers, 8pm (AEDT), Suncorp Stadium
Top of the table clash, as first meets second
Brisbane Roar come into this match on the back of a disappointing away loss to the Jets last week, after giving up the lead. It was a scrappy match that was bogged down by a waterlogged pitch, and it saw the Roar miss out on the opportunity to reclaim top spot on the ladder.
The Wanderers left it late against Melbourne Victory to secure their win, as Mark Bridge tapped home a sublime cross from Labinot Haliti, to send the Wanderers top of the table.
Brisbane will be boosted by the return of injured striker Besart Berisha, alongside the return of Socceroo’s Matt McKay and Ivan Franjic, from international duty. Brisbane’s dynamic attack will look to find ways to break down the resolute Wanderers’ defense, something that they have not been very successful at in the past.
Once again Western Sydney will be without their most potent attacking weapons, Hersi and Juric, and will need to rely on their solid defensive structure more than ever to get a result out of this match. Hersi continues to be troubled by the foot injury he sustained in the Sydney derby. Coach Tony Popovic will again have several options to choose from to fill the vacant attacking spots, if he opts for continuity then Santalab and Cole should start, however Haliti and Minniecon’s contributions off the bench against Melbourne Victory did not harm their chances of gaining a coveted starting spot.
Last year Mark Bridge scored the Wanderers first ever goal in the A-League, against Brisbane Roar at Suncorp, and continued his goal-scoring spree in the remaining encounters with the Roar, during the season. After getting of the mark last week, his confidence should be high, and he will look to add more goals to his tally.
The Wanderers are aiming for five wins in a row against the Roar, after winning all four encounters last year. Brisbane will be desperate to reclaim top stop on the ladder with a win, whilst the Wanderers will go five points clear at the top if they win. In a match that neither side can afford to lose so early on in the season, it is highly likely it will end in a draw.