They may one of the new kids on the block but Western United’s grip is tightly wrapped across the biggest club in the land.
Three wins from three against Melbourne Victory last season sees Mark Rudan’s side hold all bragging rights in this new derby, with Saturday’s meeting giving Western United the chance to become just third team to defeat the Victory on four consecutive occasions.
Western’s attacking prowess was on full display across all three meetings last year – recording 3-2, 3-1 and 2-1 wins respectively – with ex-Victory forward Besart Berisha returning to haunt his former side by scoring a brace when they met at GMHBA last season.
According to Victory boss Grant Brebner, this poor record against their neighbours over to the west has not been mentioned internally with the Scotsman adamant his squad will not need any ‘extra motivation’ following last Tuesday’s win.
‘’No [it hasn’t been discussed] we don’t need any motivation to win football games,’’ Brebner said.
‘’We don’t need to look at the past to get players up for a game, we will treat this game like we would any other. We will do everything to win this game and keep the momentum and try and get towards the top of the league rather than where we are at the moment.’’
Victory is coming off an impressive win of its own – after Jake Brimmer scored twice in the dying minutes to defeat Perth Glory – and has the chance to win consecutive matches for the first time in over a year.
Striker Ben Folami is a chance to return after he trained in full, albeit with his knee strapped, while Callum McManaman and Rudy Gestede remain on the sidelines with respective ankle and hamstring injuries.
Robbie Kruse was the standout last Tuesday night and will start again on Saturday, with the club continuing to manage the Socceroo after recurring injuries kept him sidelined for most of 2020.
‘’Robbie can only get better and fitter from here…he knows I’m a full believer in him and that he can go out and entertain the fans the way he can,’’ Brebner said.
‘’We’ve certainly managed him and we will continue to do so over the next 48 hours. Robbie isn’t carrying any injuries but he has been out a long time and the last thing we want to do is rush him.’’
Western United, meanwhile, head into this game following an enthralling 5-4 win against the Glory which saw eight goals scored after half-time.
It was impact substitute Dylan Pierias who lit the fuse for the green-and-black with a brace inside four minutes of coming on – reinvigorating his side after the Glory had taken the lead early in the second half.
Pierias is one of five different goalscorers for Western United this season – a list which is yet to include Berisha or captain Alessandro Diamanti – with the 20-year-old relishing under Rudan’s system which saw Western score 46 goals last season.
‘’We want to play attacking open football…we’ve got a lot of players that are exciting to watch and it shows we’ve scored a lot of goals which is exciting for the fans,’’ Pierias told FNR.
‘’The way we play it allows so many opportunities for people to score, with our wingbacks bombing on they have opportunities to score. Both our tens are always going forward and the formation and style allows for a lot of people to go forward and score.’’
This will be the first-ever meeting between the two sides at AAMI Park – one which will see Western United line-up as the home side.
Western has sought to use social media as a means of intensifying this new rivalry; refusing to use the letter ‘V’ or mentioning the Victory in any of its posts.