Western Sydney Wanderers FC v Melbourne Heart FC, Parramatta Stadium, 2/11/12.
It may well be a slightly despondent Melbourne Heart that travels to Parramatta Stadium for the first time ever this Friday night to meet a no doubt buoyant Western Sydney Wanderers fresh from its first goal and first win, against defending champions Brisbane Roar. The Cardiac Boys will be looking to arrest their descent into flatlining, scoreless performances while the home team will be keen to build on the fact that they have at last converted a good performance into a victory.
This is the game that pits the two ‘new boys’ of the A League together, the as yet secondary clash between the shadow teams of the country’s two biggest cities. A lack of clarity as to Heart’s constituency (overshadowed by the monolith that is Melbourne Victory – albeit one Heart regularly beats) and the sheer freshness and ambition of the whole Wanderers show gives this inaugural fixture a touch of the clean slate, and suggests a rich history to be written. In years to come this will be the fixture that measures the A League’s health and so neutrals might want to wish it the best of luck.
Both teams have claimed a commitment to good open football and that both have demonstrated, at times, that very thing. Defence is the least of these teams’ problems. Simon Colosimo and Patrick Gerhart are solid at the back for Heart while Wanderers have also recruited well at the back, notably Michael Beauchamp from Heart.
Both teams attack well down the flanks and have exciting players in those positions. Wanderers Aaron Mooy seems a gem in midfield and it feels inevitable that Shinji Ono will soon elbow himself some room on the marquee stage to match the deeds of Del Piero and Heskey. For Heart, Fred is still one of the best attacking midfielders in the competition and David Williams has shown glimpses of his quality but still has a way to go to achieve his potential.
The problem for both teams has been at the pointy end. They have simply been unable to stick the ball in the net. Wanderers have scored the fewest goals (1) but have taken the most shots while Heart has now gone 250 minutes without scoring after looking like netting a hatful in the Melbourne Derby and squandering a number of chances in the follow-up against Wellington.
In terms of results so far, my sense is that Wanderers have been downright unlucky not to sit in the top half of the table. And while Heart are less unfortunate to be propping up the table, but for a couple of moments that didn’t go their way they too would be sitting much higher.
The season’s story so far points to a low scoring game, perhaps even a goalless draw. However, both of these teams are capable of scoring a hatful if their strikers can find their radars. David Williams has promised that his team “will go through a run of form very soon that will get a lot of people talking about Melbourne Heart.” Let’s hope that it is sooner rather than later.
Heart to win 2-1.
Late breaking news via twitter. Vinnie Grella was seen walking into Hyundai Heidelberg at 4.30. #breathless
This preview first appeared in Goal Weekly