There will be plenty to keep an eye on in this Sunday’s home game against Wellington Phoenix…
First home game
Melbourne Victory will finally have the opportunity to host a game in the Liberty A-League this season when they welcome Wellington to Epping Stadium.
Victory are yet to formally host a fixture this campaign.
In fact, Victory have not been the home side in any of their last five A-League Women’s fixtures, a run stretching back to their final regular season game of the previous campaign against Canberra United.
Jeff Hopkins’ side will no doubt be buoyed by the prospect of playing in front of a partisan home crowd for the first time in nine months.
Points desperately needed
Both Victory and Wellington head into this weekend’s game having failed to secure any points from their first two fixtures.
Whilst the inexperience in the Phoenix team means expectations were relatively low heading into the season, Victory’s back-to-back losses against Western United and Sydney FC to begin their Championship defence have caught most by surprise.
The prospect of three consecutive defeats to start the campaign looms large over both sides.
Although the Liberty A-League has been extended as part of its recent growth, another loss would place either side at a significant disadvantage when competing with their rivals later on in the season.
Second ever game v Phoenix
Sunday’s match will be just the second time Victory have played Wellington in the A-League Women’s competition, and the first in Victoria.
The previous meeting took place in February this year in Wollongong.
On that occasion, early goals from Alana Murphy and Tiffany Eliadis were enough to secure a 2-0 win for Jeff Hopkins’ team.
A new frontline
Star striker Catherine Zimmerman suffered an unfortunate injury in Victory’s most recent game against Sydney.
The American is expected to be out for an extended period as a result, placing the pressure on Victory’s attacking depth to stand up in her absence.
Ava Briedis impressed off the bench last weekend playing on the wing, whilst Lia Privitelli was included in the extended squad for the Sydney game and appears on the brink of a return to the pitch.
Hopkins had to rely on his squad depth throughout last season and will once again be calling on some of his fringe players to make an impact this weekend.