Will Western Sydney Wanderers star Mitch Duke be the thorn in Sydney FC’s side once again in the third Sydney Derby of the 2019/20 Hyundai A-League campaign?
That’s the question on everyone’s lips as Duke prepares to resume battle with fellow Socceroos stars Andrew Redmayne, Rhyan Grant and Sydney FC in a contest of Red and Black resurgence and Sky Blue revenge.
Sydney FC have lost just two of their 19 games to date this season, with both of those losses coming against the Wanderers.
In their previous two meetings this season it’s been Western Sydney’s talismanic captain Duke who has been the difference, heading home the winner in both of his side’s respective 1-0 wins over the reigning Champions this season.
The Sky Blues currently sit 10 points clear on top of the Hyundai A-League table but Grant, Redmayne and co. will not feel satisfied with their so-far stellar campaign if they fail to beat the Wanderers for the third time this season.
Australia U-23’s Keanu Baccus and Trent Buhagiar will be pushing hard for minutes for the Wanderers and Sky Blues respectively when the sides meet at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday, March 21 (kick off 7.30pm AEDT).
Baccus hasn’t featured for the Wanderers since their 5-2 mauling of Adelaide United in Round 20, while Buhagiar has continued to clock up incremental minutes from the bench for Steve Corica’s side.
Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren will get the action underway this weekend when his Melbourne City outfit travel to face the bottom-placed Central Coast Mariners on Friday afternoon.
Maclaren ended his month-long goal drought against the Wanderers last weekend, netting from the spot in the 1-1 draw.
His 15th goal of the campaign put him in second place in the race for the golden boot, sandwiched between Sydney FC striker Adam le Fondre (16 goals) and Western United’s Besart Berisha (14).
Remarkably nine of Maclaren’s 15 goals came in his first four appearances of the season; they’ve been harder to come by in recent times but the Socceroos spearhead will be looking to cash in on a Mariners side which has leaked 47 goals so far this season.
City’s clash with the Mariners offers Australia U-23’s goalkeeper Tom Glover a further opportunity to stake his claim as his side’s number one, after starting in between the sticks in front of fellow City gloveman Dean Bouzanis for the last five games, keeping one clean sheet, conceding five goals and making 12 saves in that time.
It’s a homecoming of sorts, meanwhile, for WA native and Socceroos fullback Josh Risdon as the resurgent Western United look to continue their rampant run of form against the fifth-placed Perth Glory.
Risdon starred in United’s last hit-out, notching three assists in his side’s 5-1 win over Adelaide United in Round 22 and earning himself a spot in the FIFA 20 Team of the Week.
Fresh from a bye in Round 23 Risdon and United head to Perth to face the Glory, who have just one win from seven after putting on six successive victories throughout the middle of the campaign.
Australia U-23’s star and Perth Glory prospect Nick D’Agostino hasn’t added to his three-goal tally for the season since scoring a brace in Round 18, and after getting just three minutes of playing time in Glory’s 0-0 draw to Sydney FC in Round 23 he’ll be desperate to leave his mark at HBF Park on Monday night (kick off 9.30pm AEDT).