Each week we will take a look at one upcoming A-League Women's game and talk about it's context in the competition and potential as a spectacle. This week's game: Melbourne Victory look to bounce back against the Western Sydney Wanderers.
Anything could happen in this match. Melbourne Victory desperately need a result after two defeats. In contrast, Western Sydney Wanderers are looking to make it two wins in a row. A draw feels unlikely, Victory have conceded 13 goals in six matches and have lost two important players to Matildas Duty.
Western Sydney Wanderers versus Melbourne Victory
- Western Sydney have the second best defensive record.
- Melbourne Victory have the second worst in this year's A-League Women.
- The Wanderers' squad is at full strength while Victory are missing key players.
More A-League Women's news can be found on The Women's Game.
Wanderers look to have finally found their groove. They might not play the prettiest style of football, but have a clear game plan and style. After an underwhelming opening draw with Wellington Phoenix, it has become clearer how Catherine Cannuli expects her team to play.
Western Sydney have only conceded one goal that was not to Sydney FC, letting in three in total. Only their crosstown Blues rivals have a better defensive record. Up front, they have an attack that is still yet to properly click but with the quality to snatch goals.
Bryleeh Henry’s form has been steadily improving. She is mobile across both flanks and is a threat centrally. Only rushed finishing prevented her from scoring in the opening half against Brisbane Roar last week.
Henry began the season carrying an injury, but has seemingly recovered with her best performance being in the Roar 1-0 win. She not only converted the penalty confidently but also led the line for Western Sydney.
It was an encouraging game from the number nine. Henry was supported by Ashlie Crofts, Sarah Gallagher and Teagan Collister.
Libby Copus-Brown also had her best outing this season against Brisbane. She was creative and composed from deep. If Melbourne Victory are to win, they need to prevent her getting the ball with time.
Clare Hunt is in terrific form while 15 year old defender Alexia Apostolakis has been a revelation in her two appearances so far.
Western Sydney will be confident and hard to beat entering Round 7. It may be a different story from Victory.
Melbourne will be without Kyra Cooney-Cross, Nevin and Lynn Williams. Their defence is already struggling will be without a star recruit and possible centre back option.
Melina Ayres has been named in the squad and if she is fit will provide a massive boost for a team aiming to reverse a two-game losing streak.
The midfield will be a puzzle for Jeff Hopkins to solve. Without Cooney-Cross and with Amy Jackson playing in defence, he will have to look to his reserves. Paige Zois may be called upon, Harriet Withers or Lia Privitelli might deputise in midfield, or he could depend on the impressive first year play Alana Murphy.
The club has listed Alex Chidiac as available, meaning she has a chance to return. Without her, the likelihood of a Victory win seems remote. Chidiac links play, breaks up defensive structures and can score goals. She was a significant absence in the 4-2 loss to Brisbane Roar a fortnight ago. Victory will be desperate to get her back.
In attack is where Melbourne have the most options. Catherine Zimmerman is capable of playing in any role across the front three and can help out in midfield. Maja Markovski has been good this season in late cameo’s she has scored once but has also been used to hold up play and run down the clock in close finishes.
Melbourne Victory will be hungry, the wounded champions are genuine underdogs for the first time this season and they need a win.
This will be an intriguing game and possibly a turning point in the season for both teams.
The full A-League Women's schedule can be found using this link.