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Western Sydney Wanderers - Melbourne Victory Preview

Goal.com logo Goal.com 07-04-2017

Western Sydney Wanderers have the top four in their sights while Melbourne Victory need to arrest a mini-slump before the A-League finals.

SQUADS

Western Sydney Wanderers squad: 1.Jerrad TYSON (gk), 2.Shannon COLE, 3.Jack CLISBY, 5.Brendan HAMILL, 6.Mitch NICHOLS, 7.Steven LUSTICA, 8.DIMAS (c), 10.Nicolás MARTÍNEZ, 11.Brendon SANTALAB, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 14.Jumpei KUSUKAMI, 15.Kearyn BACCUS, 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 18.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 23.Lachlan SCOTT, 24.Terry ANTONIS

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 6.Mitch NICHOLS (promoted), 7.Steven LUSTICA (promoted), 11.Brendon SANTALAB (returns from suspension)

Outs: 29.Ryan GRIFFITHS (not selected)

Unavailable: Jacob MELLING (back – indefinite)

Melbourne Victory squad: 4.Nick ANSELL, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Marco ROJAS, 8.Besart BERISHA, 10.James TROISI, 11.Mitch AUSTIN, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.James DONACHIE, 19.George HOWARD, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI (c), 22.Stefan NIGRO, 23.Jai INGHAM, 32.Cameron MCGILP, 35.Josh HOPE, 40.Matt ACTON (gk)

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 19.George HOWARD (promoted), 22.Stefan NIGRO (promoted), 32.Cameron MCGILP (promoted), 35.Josh HOPE (promoted)

Outs: 2.Jason GERIA (suspended – 1 match), 15.Alan BARO (suspended – 1 match)

Unavailable: Nil

BLUFFER'S GUIDE

It's a side with the wind in its sails against one that has become temporarily becalmed.

Western Sydney – fresh from a third win on the bounce last weekend – welcome Victory, who have lost three of their last four games and failed to score in any of those defeats.

Wanderers 'getting results they deserved earlier' - Broxham

Suspension has also robbed visiting coach Kevin Muscat of two key defenders, with Alan Baro and Jason Geria both unavailable after red and yellow cards respectively last Sunday.

Meantime, Wanderers boss Tony Popovic knows a win will guarantee his side their place in the finals and allow them to make a charge for the top four in the last weekend of the regular season.

Victory can still be theoretically run down by Brisbane in the race for second, but a point here will lock them into the top two.

Muscat disappointed in Victory

They'll also take heart from back-to-back 3-0 wins in their two previous clashes with Western Sydney this season, while Victory have overcome the Wanderers in seven of their past nine meetings.

The hosts will have evergreen striker Brendon Santalab back from suspension for the clash at ANZ Stadium - the 34-year-old has scored five goals in his past two games - while Mitch Nichols and Steve Lustica have also been promoted.

It's expected Leigh Broxham will fill one of Victory's defensive holes, while Muscat has added four youngsters - George Howard, Stefan Nigro, Cameron McGilp and Josh Hope - to his squad.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Western Sydney will welcome back Santalab with open arms after he missed the 3-0 win over Newcastle Jets last week.

While Wanderers comfortably got the job done, 'Santa' has been their main man up front this season, scoring 14 goals, including a hat-trick and three braces.

Nichols is also in line to return against the side he played for in the 2013-14 A-League season, while imports Jumpei Kuzukami and Nico Martinez continue to flourish with prolonged stints in the starting side.

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But it'll be all eyes on Victory's master marksman Besart Berisha, who needs just one more goal to become the first player to score 100 times in the A-League.

Berisha was starved of opportunities against Wellington Phoenix on Sunday, but history would suggest the milestone could fall on Saturday - he's scored six times in his last six games against the Red-and-Black.

WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Robbie Cornthwaite. The beanpole defender wore the captain's armband against Newcastle and celebrated by scoring a brace.

FORM LINES (all competitions)

Western Sydney: DWWWW

Melbourne Victory: WLWLL

PREDICTION

Western Sydney Wanderers 2-2 Melbourne Victory

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