The table-topping Wanderers travel to fourth-placed Melbourne Victory this weekend in the standout fixture of Round 18. Here’s everything you need to know.
The Wanderers have won four matches in 10 fixtures against Victory, drawing once and losing five. Tony Popovic’s men beat this weekend’s opponents 2-0 in their last outing back in December to stay top of the table and it will be a similar scenario when the two powerhouses face off on Saturday.
Federico Piovaccari returns to the squad alongside Golgol Mebrahtu and Jonathan Aspropotamitis whilst Kearyn Baccus is omitted. Melbourne Victory must contend with the loss of Tunisian star Fahid Ben Khalfallah who is suspended after receiving a red card in last week’s 3-2 defeat to Perth Glory. Check the full squad here.
Topor-Stanley sends warning to teammates
Although the Red and Black easily accounted for the Victory in their last meeting, Wanderers skipper is expecting a much firmer test this time around.
“It’s a massive game, there’s no denying it. It’s a game we look forward to with great anticipation”, said Topor-Stanley before Friday’s training session.
“They’re still a good team and we certainly won’t be taking them lightly. They might not have got the desired results for them, but that’s their problem.
“We’ll be prepared as always and ready for a good showdown.”
Despite winning just three of their last ten games, the Wanderers should expect a fiery response from a Victory side who are coming off the back of a loss against Perth Glory.
Kevin Muscat’s side have struggled to recover their efficiency following a run of four consecutive losses midway through the season, but the former Australian international is sure to have prepared his troops for a typically titanic clash with their Western Sydney rivals.
The absence of Fahid Ben Khalfallah is a big loss for Victory but the reigning champions still boast enough firepower in the likes of Besart Berisha (six in his last 11 versus the Wanderers) and the in-form Kosta Barbarouses to avenge their Round 10 defeat at Wanderland.
Traditionally a tense arm-wrestle, 18 of 26 goals in the fixture have arrived in the second half.
How to watch
If you’re not at the ground can catch the game live on Fox Sports 505 at 7.30pm AEST or listen live on 702 ABC Sydney & ABC Local Radio NSW, Grandstand Digital & Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-League Live.