'We are ready to fight': Melbourne. Sydney brace for fiery derbies in Matchweek 10
It's A-League drama with a local flavour in Matchweek 10, as another chapter is added to the respective stories of two newly-established rivalries.
Melbourne Victory play host to Western United at Marvel Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the fifth instalment of the Battle of the Bridge, before Macarthur FC travel to face Sydney FC for the second time in a month.
The A-League new boys will be out for vengeance after the Sky Blues defeated the Bulls 3-0 in Matchweek 6 - on the same day United and Victory played out an entertaining 0-0 draw at AAMI Park.
As the two rivalries resume in Matchweek 10, the players and coaches from all sides prepare for battle not knowing which way the tables might turn as the drama unfolds throughout two fixtures of immense importance to the four clubs battling for local bragging rights.
Defiant Gestede says Victory are 'ready to fight' to give Victory fans more joy
Melbourne Victory forward Rudy Gestede says his side are eager to build momentum after the Benin international scored his first and second goals in Navy Blue as Victory downed Wellington Phoenix 2-0 to climb off the bottom of the A-League table.
Now facing a stern test against Western United - who come into the contest after their 4-1 demolition of Macarthur FC - Gestede says fostering the feeling of confidence around the club is key to coming out on top in the Battle of the Bridge.
"In the position we are in now, it was important for us to win this game for the club, for us, for the manager (and) for the fans," Gestede said.
"To show we didn’t give up, we won’t give up, and we are ready to fight.
"Given it’s a tough situation, we will keep pushing hard."
Gestede continued: "We have to keep this momentum going on, this positive feeling and this confidence with us.
"We’re going to play Western United - an experienced team with quality.
"We’ve got quality in our side so we don’t fear anyone… we need to manage a bit more and maybe be more patient, but I look forward to playing this team.
"We need (the fans) alongside us. Especially when you are not in a good position, I know the fans are disappointed, frustrated and sometimes they say 'we won’t support you because you’re in this position', but in reality that’s when we need them.
"We look forward to seeing them back at the stadium, and to come in numbers, because they’re going to play a very important part for us."
It's the second time the two sides meet in the 2020/21 season, after a goalless draw in Matchweek 6 which could have ended with multiple goals to either side. Grant Brebner's Victory went on a three-game losing streak after the stalemate with United before snapping that run with the win over Wellington.
Victory are gunning for their second win in succession and first against United in A-League history (D1, L3), a result which Brebner says will only come if his side stick together in continued pursuit of an uplift in form.
“The key is togetherness. We saw on Wednesday the togetherness that the group has during and post-game,” Brebner said.
"We don’t want to make it just that one game. We need it to carry us forward and become a number of games.
“We want to keep that momentum going so it’s important that we continue that form and come away with three points again."
'If we play how we can and how we want, no one can beat us' - Ninkovic hopes to deal knockout blow to Bulls once again
After electing to reject a committed recruitment push from Marcarthur FC in 2019 to stick with Sydney FC, Miloš Ninković popped up as the game-breaker for the Sky Blues in the first meeting between the sides in the 2020/21 A-League campaign.
And now, after scoring a slaloming solo run to break Macarthur hearts in Matchweek 6, the Serbian midfielder is intent on inflicting more pain on Sydney's local rivals.
"I’m really looking forward to it, especially after the game against Melbourne City (a 3-2 loss) where obviously we didn’t play how we wanted," Ninkovic said.
"I think we can play much better, the good thing (is) now we get a game on Sunday to win... I really hope the crowd is going to be good… we need their support.
"Even when we played against them in pre-season, they have a really good team, good players, good coach.
But I’ve said many times, if we play how we can and how we want, no one can beat us.
I’m really looking forward to beat every club, it doesn’t matter if it’s Macarthur, or Western Sydney Wanderers, or any club, because we need to pick up the points, and that’s the most important thing for us."
The Sky Blues won 3-0 last time the two sides met after a red card to Bulls captain Mark Milligan left Macarthur with ten men for 70 minutes of play.
Sydney head coach Steve Corica says he's wary of Macarthur's potential to come out firing after a disappointing 4-1 loss to Western United in Matchweek 9. But the Sky Blues boss has a fresh Ninkovič to rely on after the Serbian's cameo off the bench against City garnered one goal and an assist in little more than 30 minutes of play.
"We rested him for this game, because there was a short turnaround," Corica said.
"You want to look after him, he’s getting a little bit older now Ninko.
"But he did well (against City), he (made) a difference when he came on, you saw how scored the goal and obviously created the other goal.
"He’s one of our best players, we need to get him on the field and he’ll be ready for this game."
Melbourne Victory v Western United
Saturday, 27 February 2021
Venue: Marvel Stadium
Kick-off: 7.10pm AEDT
Broadcast: Fox Sports 505
Stream: MyFootball Live App, Kayo Sports
Sydney FC v Macarthur FC
Sunday, 28 February 2021
Venue: Nestrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off: 4.05pm AEDT
Broadcast: Fox Sports 505
Stream: MyFootball Live App, Kayo Sports
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