Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne Victory
7.45 pm, Saturday 16th November, Pirtek Stadium
The Wanderers come into this match on the back of three straight wins, and are the only team in the competition yet to taste defeat. Last week the Wanderers battled to a 1-0 win over Melbourne Heart, courtesy of a Shannon Cole strike.
Melbourne Victory suffered their first loss of the season last week, a 3-2 loss to Sydney FC. The Victory squandered a great opportunity as the sky blues went down to ten men, 25 minutes into the match. Victory’s ill discipline allowed Sydney FC into the game.
Currently the Wanderers sit second on the ladder, three points ahead of Melbourne Victory. A win by Western Sydney will open up a vital six-point gap, between them and the Victory.
In form striker Tomi Juric is out of this clash, after suffering a knee injury, in last week’s game. Coach Tony Popovic has a couple of options up front, Haliti or Santalab can play as the lone striker, both could get a start if Hersi or Bridge are rested. Captain Michael Beauchamp should resume his position back in the team, after missing the game against the Heart. The dilemma for Popovic will be whether to start Spiranovic, after his solid debut last week. Starting the Australian international will mean splitting the successful Beauchamp/Topor-Stanley partnership up once again.
Melbourne Victory will be without Mark Milligan, who is on Socceroos duty this week. Kevin Muscat’s concern will be his team’s inability to break down a ten men Sydney FC outfit, that has leaked goals consistently this season. Muscat might revisit last year’s game plan where the Victory had success using the counter, breaking with speed and exploiting the slower Wanderers’ defence.
With Tomi Juric out injured, Santalab or Haliti will start up front. As Shannon Cole did last week, they must take this opportunity, as there is competition for starting positions within the squad.
Archie Thompson, who has caused damage against the Wanderers in the past, will be looking for a big game as he pushes his case for Socceroos re-selection, after missing out on his former manager’s first Socceroos squad.
This game will be close, the Wanderers have been scrappy in their last two games and Melbourne Victory are coming off their first defeat. The midfield will be key, as both teams look to play wide.