After suffering their first loss of the season, the Western Sydney Wanderers are feeling revitalised after last week’s bye and are ready to rip in to Friday’s blockbuster clash at Bankwest Stadium.
The Wanderers will look to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat to Western United on November 9 when they take on the competition-leading Melbourne City.
Speaking with the media on Wednesday, Wanderers coach Markus Babbel said last weekend’s bye came at the right time for the third-placed club
“The boys are looking good,” he said.
“For us, it was an important break because we have some players who we could work with individually because they came late, not 100 per cent fit, so it helped a lot.
“For (German imports) Nicolai Muller and Alex Meier, it was very important for them and it was the case for the players who have already played a lot this season.
“All the boys looked very fresh at training yesterday.”
It will be the first time this A-League season Western Sydney have faced the ladder leaders, however they did play City in a FFA Cup quarter final in mid-September, losing 3-0.
Babbel said their focus will be on damaging City striker Jamie Maclaren, who is the competition’s top scorer this season with seven goals, and will be coming off a hat-trick against Brisbane last week.
“There are some reasons why Melbourne City is on top of the table. They are a strong side and bring good intensity on the pitch and if we are not prepared then they have the quality to beat us,” he said.
“Maclaren is a top striker, so we know what’s going on. It’s up to us now to handle this.
“He is smart and not a player who will beat three, four or five players.
He is doing fantastic forward runs and, in the box, if you give him space, he is taking it.
“If we bring our quality then we can beat them especially on our home ground.”
It’s set to be a huge night at the Parramatta-based venue, with Western Sydney’s W-League team playing Newcastle in the curtain-raiser at 5pm.
The Wander Women enjoyed a 2-1 opening round victory over Adelaide United last week and are hopeful of keeping their winning streak alive.
“The good thing from last week is that they did all that was asked of them, tactically and in terms of output physically. They gave everything,” W-League coach Dean Heffernan said.
“This week we have spoken a lot about continuing from that in terms of mentality, effort and togetherness.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.