The A-League’s Easter football fix kicks off with the Melbourne Victory hosting Western Sydney Wanderers on Good Friday at AAMI Park.
Both sides earned draws in round 24, though the Wanderers will be much happier with their point.
Victory went 1-0 down to the Jets eight minutes before the break with Ryan Kitto finding the back of the net. Daniel Mullen was sent off for his second yellow card only two minutes later meaning Melbourne had just over half a game to utilise this numerical advantage.
While the home team did peg one back through Besart Berisha, they will be disappointed they did not hit the target more and ultimately secure all three points.
The Wanderers ground out a 0-0 draw with Adelaide United at Pirtek Stadium. There were no goals and the contest reflected just how close these two are on the ladder and how tight things are between the top four; they are separated by only two points.
While the game was scoreless, it was not for a lack of trying with the Wanderers registering 16 shots to United’s three.
This match provides Western Sydney with an opportunity to solidify their premiership challenge; all three points against the Victory will ensure they remain on top of the table by the end of the round.
Key Battle – Besart Berisha v Nikolai Topor-Stanely
In such a mediocre season, Berisha has still managed to score plenty of goals, 16 in total which sets a new club record. But the Albanian is not unstoppable and if the Wanderers’ captain, who will make his 100th appearance for the club against the Victory, can cover Berisha well and nullify his influence, it will go a long way in keeping the Victory scoreless.
CrownBet match odds at time of publishing
Victory will be without Jason Geria who is away on Socceroos duty. Kevin Muscat will also be without Nick Ansell and Archie Thompson who have a quad injury and illness respectively. Daniel Georgievski and Rashid Mahazi return from suspension while Fahid Ben Khalfallah returns from injury.
The Wanderers have no injuries or suspensions to deal with and add Brendan Hamill and Golgol Mebrahtu to their squad.
Head to Head
In the 11 meetings between these clubs, Victory have won on five occasions while the Wanderers have won four. There have been two draws.
The Wanderers haven’t had much joy when travelling to Melbourne. In their last eight games in the city they have won only two – both of which came against Melbourne City, not Victory.
The last time these sides met, back in round 18, is perhaps remembered more for the goings on off the field than on it; it was as the behaviour at this game which saw the Wanderers fined $50,000 and received a suspended three point deduction.
On the field Besart Berisha’s first half header was cancelled out by a trademark, off the bench Brendon Santalab strike.
This game has the potential to be an interesting and exciting contest but this is dependent on whether or not Victory’s attack shows up. A single shot on goal against the Newcastle Jets, while efficient considering they scored from it, is simply unacceptable from a team which has such a talented front three.
The Wanderers will be a tough unit to break down, having kept back to back clean sheets in their last two games. On the other hand, Victory has conceded six in their last two games.
Although Victory will want to put in a much improved performance, Western Sydney should be too strong for the Melbourne side.
Melbourne Victory 1 Western Sydney Wanderers 2
*CrownBet match odds at time of publishing are subject to change