Stats Preview: Victory seeking a historic century in the Melbourne Derby

The numbers tell some fascinating stories ahead of the Hyundai A-League's 2018/19 return.

A new Hyundai A-League milestone could be set in the Melbourne derby when the competition launches this weekend.

Meanwhile, Mike Mulvey faces a tough assignment when he returns to face former employers Brisbane Roar.

Read on as we dissect the facts and figures you need to know ahead of Hyundai A-League Round 1!

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Five things to look out for on opening weekend

Melbourne Victory one win shy of 100 at home

There’s a fair bit on the line for both Melbourne clubs in Saturday night’s highly anticipated derby clash.

Melbourne Victory kick off their Championship defence with star duo Keisuke Honda and Ola Toivonen in the fold, while neighbours City are hoping to throw down a title statement with a famous win on Victory turf.

FLASHBACK: Five Melbourne Derby heroes

However, Kevin Muscat’s side will set a new Hyundai A-League milestone should they get the better of their cross-town rivals, with a win sealing Victory’s 100th league triumph on home soil.

The four-time Hyundai A-League Champions would become the first club to reach that milestone, adding further credence to their claim as Australia’s finest.

Having won four of the last five Melbourne derbies – including the last two – Muscat’s men will fancy their chances at commencing the new campaign in style.

Melbourne Derby

Bar raised sky-high for Sydney FC new boys

The off-season departures of Bobo and Adrian Mierzejewski left a gaping void in the attacking arsenal of Sydney FC.

Sydney’s former Brazilian striker and ex-Polish wizard were directly involved in 73 per cent of the team’s 66 goals during the 2017/18 season.

However, new coach Steve Corica has assembled two quality recruits in order to make up the numbers.

Adam Le Fondre and Siem de Jong undoubtedly have big shoes to fill, but all signs so far indicate the marquee duo are entirely capable replacements.

Both Le Fondre and de Jong will look to hit the ground running against Adelaide, against whom the Sky Blues are undefeated in their last six matches.

Mulvey’s mountain to climb

Mike Mulvey begins a bright new era for Central Coast Mariners against former employers Brisbane Roar on Sunday afternoon.

But the ex-Roar double-winner will have to overcome the Mariners’ horror run of form against the Brisbane club.

John Aloisi’s side enter the clash undefeated in their last 12 matches against Central Coast, winning 10 of those fixtures and keeping six clean sheets in the process.

In fact, the last time the Gosford club landed a Hyundai A-League win against their Queensland opponents, Mulvey himself was in the Roar dugout.

That was an away victory for the Mariners back in April 2014, with first-half goals from Nick Fitzgerald and Anthony Caceres sealing a 2-0 win.

Mike Mulvey

A silver lining to Wellington’s opening day malaise

Wellington Phoenix are another Hyundai A-League club who must overturn the record books if they are to begin their new era under Mark Rudan on the right note.

Rudan’s impact since arriving in May has been profound, and there is genuine belief building across the ditch.

SIGNING NEWS: Phoenix add to list

But the stats provide intimidating reading for the Phoenix as they prepare to launch their season against the Jets – Wellington have only ever won on the opening day once in their history - a 2-0 triumph against Sydney to begin the 2012/13 season.

The other 10 season openers? Wellington have drawn five and lost five, including two defeats to the Novocastrians in 2009/10 and 2015/16.

Despite being slow starters, Wellington could be in a great position to snap this run. They have won 11 of their last 14 matches against Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium and have outscored the Hunter club 7-0 in their last two wins.

Babbel hoping to arrest Wanderers’ alarming trend

The reunion of Tony Popovic against former club Western Sydney Wanderers headlines a narrative-heavy conclusion to the Hyundai A-League’s opening round.

And while the Glory boss will accept nothing less than a home win in his first match in charge, new Wanderers coach Markus Babbel is desperate to avoid such an outcome.

Markus Babbel

That’s because the Wanderers have lost their last three matches on the bounce away from home – the last time they lost more in succession was their horror eight-game drought from May 2014 to February 2015.

In each of those games last season, the Red and Black shipped three goals to Melbourne Victory, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC, perhaps underlining why the Wanderers were never able to sustain a credible bid for the Hyundai A-League contention last season.

That is something Babbel will be intent on fixing if the Wanderers are to return among the competition’s elite this season.