It promises to be a huge weekend of football for Western Sydney as Tony Popovic’s men continue to chase their own record against fellow table-toppers Brisbane.Here are five things to look out for on a big weekend of Wanderers action.
A-League aiming for six of the best
It’s second versus third at Pirtek Stadium when John Aloisi’s high-flying Brisbane come to town. Tickets are available here.
The mood around Wanderland has changed dramatically since the Roar’s 3-1 opening day defeat of the Red & Black back in October with the Wanderers now seeking a sixth victory in a row.
But it won’t be an easy task in hosting a Brisbane side that have lost just once this season. Although they’ve had their momentum scuppered in drawing three of their last four, the Roar have established a solid, possession-based style under Aloisi which has also blooded a leaner, savvier defensive outlook.
If the Wanderers emerge victorious again on Saturday it would put them four wins away from equalling their own Hyundai A-League record of 10 consecutive wins and potentially organise a first versus second date with Melbourne Victory the following Saturday.
Brisbane clash a must-watch
Saturday’s fixture ought to be a spectacle for the purists with both sides parading their rejuvenated blueprints with a significant amount of flamboyance during the opening months of the season.
The two teams have dedicated a large portion of their early success to their respective passing games and ability to dictate terms through possession and distribution. No other team in the league has done this more perceptibly than Brisbane in the opening eight matches, averaging 485 passes per game (Wanderers second most passes with 439.5 per game, Perth fewest with 333).
Midfielder Corona is the key man for Brisbane in this respect – he’s made more passes than any other player in the league this season (552) and creates 2.1 chances per 90 minutes from a deep-lying midfield role.
Spanish tug of war in midfield
The balance of play on Saturday night could well be decided by the three Spaniards in the middle of the park with the Roar’s double-pivot of Corona and McKay coming up against Andreu and Dimas. Expect a show of technical prowess over brawn when two of the league’s best midfields go toe-to-toe. The Wanderers Spanish midfielders have made a combined 881 passes this season – accounting for over half of the entire Perth team’s total (1610).
Dimas in particular has proven he can provide the killer pass on several occasions for the Wanderers - he creates 2.5 chances per 90 minutes – and 18 in total, which is only one less chance created than two of the league’s most in-form attacking midfielders in Mitch Nichols and Gui Finkler.
Critical Sydney Derby in the Westfield W-League
After the weekend’s disappointing 4-1 loss to Canberra saw Norm Boardman’s Wanderers slide to sixth in the ladder, a win against Sydney FC on Sunday afternoon would place them in a finals position with just six matches remaining.
But there’s little room for getting ahead of themselves leading into what could be the most important game of the season. Prior to their defeat in Gosford, the Wanderers had picked up two wins in a row and had put to bed some of the niggling inconsistencies and vital lapses that had hindered what has otherwise been a hugely positive season.
It was a case of missed chances followed by sucker punches on the counter attack against Canberra United – they’ll need to flip the script sooner or later in order to polish their final credentials.
Second place in sight for NYL team
Trevor Morgan’s NYL squad take on the FFA Centre of Excellence on Sunday afternoon at Blacktown International Sportspark, looking to return to second on the table after their bye last week.
Their opposition lie one point below them. Entry is free and kick-off is 4pm.