Match Preview: Wanderers v Victory

The Wanderers are back home in A-League Men’s action this weekend with a blockbuster Sunday evening clash against the Melbourne Victory.

Get your tickets to the fixture here.

It is set to be an intriguing matchup, as both sides are currently still undefeated after six games of the season, though both were held to draws on the road last weekend.

The Wanderers had a tough start to their match against the Brisbane Roar, falling behind 2-0 in difficult conditions and also losing captain Marcelo to injury, but their spirit and determination was on full display in the second half as goals from Nicolas Milanovic and Marcus

Antonsson helped the side fightback to secure a 2-2 draw.

Milanovic has been in sparkling form this season, having scored three goals already and also being one of the most improved players in the side after joining as a midseason signing last season.

The Victory meanwhile were involved in a back-and-forth affair against last season’s Grand Finalists Central Coast; Alou Kuol’s opener for the Mariners was cancelled out by a sensational Bruno Fornaroli goal just before half-time.

Nishan Velupillay put the Victory ahead, but a penalty from Angel Torres leveled the game once again and consigned Melbourne to a fourth draw of the season.

Despite the frustration of four draws in a row, Tony Popovic’s side are showing much improvement from last season where they finished a lowly 11th in a season where the team’s attack struggled and they were dogged by injuries to key players.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 11: Jack Clisby of the Wanderers celebrates scoring a goal with teammates during the A-League Men round four match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory at CommBank Stadium, on November 11, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Their goalscoring problem has been mitigated in a big way by the renaissance of veteran striker Bruno Fornaroli; the Uruguayan-born marksman has seven goals already this season – placing him well clear of the rest of the competition – which included a stunning four goals in the first half of his side’s win over Newcastle back in October.

It will be an interesting test for a Wanderers defence that is the best in the league, having kept four clean sheets already this season, and coach Marko Rudan will take confidence from how Western Sydney defended after Marcelo limped off on Friday, as they managed to hold Brisbane goalless in that time.

Fornaroli is not the only attacking threat posed by the Victory, as Velupillay as well as summer signing Zinedine Machach have been highly impressive going forward, their speed and power will pose big questions for the Wanderers.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 11: The Wanderers form a huddle before play during the A-League Men round four match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory at CommBank Stadium, on November 11, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

One thing the Wanderers do have on their side is history, as they have only tasted defeat once in their last eight clashes against the Victory.

During this time they have claimed two huge wins down in Melbourne, and did the double in the season series last season; a back’s to the wall win at AAMI Park in round two was followed by a gritty 2-1 success at CommBank Stadium that helped secure the Wanderers’ place in the finals series.

The Victory still hold the overall lead in the head-to-head ledger, with 14 wins to the Wanderers 10, but they have not tasted victory away to the Wanderers since 2019, and they have lost in all three of their previous trips to CommBank Stadium.

A win for the Wanderers as well as other results going in their favour would see them return to the top of the table, preparing them nicely for big clashes against Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix before Christmas, and in front of a passionate Red & Black crowd, they will hope to secure a third win of the season.