Preview: Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne Victory

The Wanderers can no longer claim to be underdogs and their squad will need to learn how to handle the expectation on their shoulders now to keep getting results.

Date: Saturday, November 24, 2012 Kick-off: 7.45pm AEDT Venue: Parramatta Stadium, Sydney Head-to-head: N/A

Previous encounter: N/A

Form: Past five matches: Wanderers: WLWWL Victory: DWWLW

The Game Before the season, the Wanderers' goal was simply to be competitive. Seven rounds in and coach Tony Popovic and his squad will need to re-assess those goals with the new boys riding high inside the top six after their impressive 1-0 win on the road against Perth Glory last Sunday.

The fact they achieved that result despite having 10 men for more than half the game shows the Wanderers have the goods to be finals contenders in their debut season.

Popovic will need to make at least one change to his side with midfielder Youssef Hersi suspended. Tarek Elrich, Shannon Cole and Labinot Haliti are all likely to vie for the right-wing spot. Japanese star Shinji Ono has battled a virus this week but is expected to be available.

The Victory are enjoying their best run of form for the season, having lost just one of their past five matches. They showed tremendous character to come from behind twice last weekend to draw 2-2 with the Central Coast.

The two-time champions will be without influential attacker Marcos Flores this week though after he was sent off against the Mariners. But coach Ange Postecoglou should have a ready-made replacement in Archie Thompson. Midfielder Gui Finkler is also hopeful of a return from a groin problem.

The Big Issue Wanderers: If there was anyone out there still doubting how Western Sydney would handle life in the Hyundai A-League, there can surely be no more questions.

The Wanderers can no longer claim to be underdogs or outsiders in any match and their squad will need to learn how to handle the expectation on their shoulders now to keep getting results. They have shown they enjoy playing on the road but will need to start winning games on their home turf as well.

Victory: There's a common saying in football that attackers win matches but defenders win championships. That applies very much to the Victory in recent weeks. While Postecoglou is still trying to fully impart his style on the Victory, he'll need to plug the gaps at the back if they are to challenge for the title.

Only the dreadful Sydney FC have conceded more goals than the Victory in the opening seven rounds. They'll need to keep it tight against the Wanderers who have shown they are extremely difficult to break down.

The game breaker Andrew Nabbout: A month ago nobody outside of the Victory offices had heard of the 19-year-old. The whole of the A-League knows him now. Nabbout followed up his match-winning two-goal haul against Sydney FC a fortnight ago with another strike in the draw with Central Coast last weekend.

The return from illness of Thompson may push the teenager back to the bench for this one but if things are tight late on, there's no-one better to come on and make an impact for the visitors.

Prediction: Wanderers 2-2 Victory This clash brings about a real contrast in styles with Western Sydney's well-structured and organised defence up against the flair and pace of the Victory's all-out attack. It makes for what should be an intriguing battle, with whichever side can maximise their strength likely to come out on top.

The loss of Flores is a blow for the visitors but they should be able to cover it with the return of Thompson and the brilliant form of Marco Rojas. While there should be goals, it wouldn't be a surprise if these two cancelled each other out.