We ask a few questions that could decide the result of Saturday night’s top of the table clash against Melbourne Victory.
Can the Wanderers snap a four-game losing streak against Victory?
Although the Red & Black are the hottest team in the A-League right now, they’ll have to overcome a significant hurdle to make it seven wins from seven. Tony Popovic’s side have been defeated by Kevin Muscat’s team in their last four occasions by an aggregate score of 12-3.
Will it be another arm wrestle?
Round 10’s main event is set to be another close encounter in a long list of enthralling matches between the two sides. Four out of nine clashes between the Wanderers and Victory finished the first half 0-0, with 16 of the 24 goals scored arriving in the second. Furthermore, eight of the 16 second half goals have occurred beyond the 70th minute.
Neither side has ever won from a losing position in their nine meetings so far.
What will the Wanderers’ approach be?
As evidenced above, both sides have traditionally adopted a conservative approach against each other but Mitch Nichol’s late winner against Brisbane may well have altered the dynamic of Tony Popovic’s approach for the visit of Kevin Muscat’s side this weekend.
The visit of the reigning champions represents by far the toughest challenge of the season for the Wanderers. The visitors will try to frustrate and deny the home side the ball for as long as possible but are not a side to defend as deep as the likes of Newcastle or Brisbane in previous weeks.
Similarly, Popovic’s side showed they can still find a way to win without dominating the possession and chances last week against Brisbane but will be eager to put Victory under the pump without exposing themselves to the best counter-attacking team in the competition.
How will Victory respond to last week’s defeat?
They say be wary of a wounded animal and Victory are just that after succumbing to a 2-0 defeat to Wellington last Saturday. It’s Melbourne’s second loss of the season and the third time they’ve been held scoreless this campaign.
Victory responded to their last defeat – a 1-0 loss away to Newcastle in October – with four straight wins, scoring 11 and conceding four against Wellington, Sydney, Central Coast and Adelaide. The Wanderers should anticipate a fiery response on the weekend.
Will Berisha haunt the Wanderers again?
The Albanian is at his mercurial best in the big games such as these and no one has thwarted the Wanderers more with six goals scored in ten matches against the Red & Black. He’s netted three times in his five visits to Pirtek Stadium and has scored six times in seven starts this season.