What a way for Victory's Leigh Broxham to mark his 200th Hyundai A-League appearance! Reigning champions Melbourne Victory host leaders Western Sydney Wanderers in what shapes as a ripper on Saturday night.
Saturday, 6 February 2016
Melbourne Victory v Western Sydney Wanderers FC
Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 7:30 PM (Local) (7:30 PM (AEDT))
Referee: Ben Williams
Assistant Referee 1: Ashley Beecham
Assistant Referee 2: Wilson Brown
Fourth Official: Lucien Laverdure
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, 702 ABC Sydney, 666 ABC Canberra, ABC Local Radio NSW, ABC Local Radio Vic, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live.. SEN Radio (Melbourne)
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #MVCvWSW
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 2.Jason GERIA, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 4.Nick ANSELL, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM (c), 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.Connor PAIN, 13.Oliver BOZANIC, 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE,18.Dylan MURNAN, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23.Jai INGHAM, 24.Thomas DENG
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 3.Scott GALLOWAY (promoted), 11.Connor PAIN (promoted), 18.Dylan MURNANE (promoted), 23.Jai INGHAM (promoted)
Outs: 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH (suspended – 1 match), 16.Rashid MAHAZI (suspended – 1 match)
Unavailable: 21.Carl VALERI (ill – indefinite)
Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad: 3.Scott JAMIESON, 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 6.Mitch NICHOLS, 7.Romeo CASTELEN, 8.DIMAS, 9.Federico PIOVACCARI, 10.Dario VIDOSIC, 11.Brendon SANTALAB, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 14.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 17.ALBERTO, 18.ANDREU, 19.Mark BRIDGE, 20.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 21.Jacob PEPPER, 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 30.Liam REDDY (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 9.Federico PIOVACCARI (promoted), 14.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS (promoted)
Outs: 15.Kearyn BACCUS (not selected)
The last time Victory took on a team on top of the A-League, they crushed Brisbane Roar 4-0.
Kevin Muscat's title-holders looked to be rediscovering their mojo before last week's 3-2 loss at Perth Glory but Wanderers coach Tony Popovic should be wary of a wounded Victory at Etihad Stadium.
Western Sydney haven't beaten Victory in Melbourne in almost three years, while they have lost four of their past five meetings with the Big V.
But Popovic's men should have plenty of confidence after their impressive 4-3 win over Melbourne City last week, plus their 2-0 triumph over the champions in their last meeting in December.
That was a cracking contest that could have gone either way until Romeo Castelen added the Wanderers' second goal with 11 minutes left.
Victory's stand-in skipper Broxham argued this week that Western Sydney have shown they're "beatable", with the 28-year-old preparing for his 200th A-League match.
Broxham will become only the second player to reach a double century for Victory and having signed a two-year extension to his contract this week, it's hard to bet against him setting plenty of records in the coming years.
Expect Broxham to remain in midfield this week with Fahid Ben Khalfallah (red card) and Rashid Mahazi (accumulation of yellows) suspended for the Wanderers' visit.
Archie Thompson will be the obvious replacement for Ben Khalfallah.
Popovic has promoted under-performing marquee Federico Piovaccari, as well as Golgol Mebrahtu and Jonathan Aspropotamitis for Saturday's match, while Kearyn Baccus has been dropped.
But it seems unlikely Popovic will make too many changes to his starting line-up after Mark Bridge and Mitch Nichols ripped City apart in Round 17.
Victory are undefeated in their last three home matches against Western Sydney
Muscat's men are also undefeated in their last nine home matches, though they've not hosted the Wanderers in that period
There have been 18 goals scored in the Wanderers' last four games - the score line is level at 9-9 over those fixtures
Western Sydney are the only side yet to lose a point from a leading position in the A-League this season (won all 10 games that they have led)
ROUTE TO GOAL
Western Sydney's past four matches have seen both teams score in every game, no draws and a winning margin of just one goal each time.
So you can bank on some entertainment on Saturday night!
In that period, Mark Bridge has scored three goals, including his brace against City, while both Nichols and Brendon Santalab have notched two.
Despite Piovaccari's failure to impress, Popovic has a raft of options up front with Castelen and Dario Vidosic complementing the likes of Bridge and Nichols.
The question remains whether Popovic can find a more consistent solution in defence to keep the opposition scoreless.
It may come as a surprise but Victory (3) have notched more clean sheets over the past five rounds than Wanderers (1).
With Thomas Deng and Nick Ansell available again, Muscat should be able to pick a strong back four, although it meant little against Perth last round.
Up front, Besart Berisha remains the hosts' main weapon, with the Albanian striker having moved to 13 goals for the season against the Glory.
While Ben Khalfallah is a loss, don't be surprised if Thompson notches a goal on his return to the starting XI.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Leigh Broxham. From kit man to first-team regular, Broxham's story is one of persistence. The versatile midfielder and defender is set to become just the 11th player to make 200 A-League appearances.
Melbourne Victory 2-2 Western Sydney Wanderers