MX23RW : Saturday, July 24 08:49:36| >> :600:4547479:4547479:
Dec 30, 2020 at 8.10am UK at Parramatta Stadium, Parramatta, Sydney
Western SydneyWestern Sydney Wanderers

Cox (18'), Dorrans (46'), Mourdoukoutas (78')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Milligan (72')
Susnjar (62'), Genreau (86'), Milligan (90+4')

Preview: Western Sydney Wanderers vs. Macarthur - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's A-League clash between Western Sydney Wanderers and Macarthur, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Western Sydney Wanderers kick off their 2020-21 A-League campaign on Wednesday when they welcome Macarthur to Bankwest Stadium in gameweek one.

The hosts are aiming to improve on their ninth-placed finish from last season, whereas Macarthur are plying their trade at the pinnacle of Australian football for the first time.

Match preview

Carl Robinson, now in charge of Western Sydney Wanderers, pictured in 2017© Reuters

A new era is set to begin for Western Sydney Wanderers under Carl Robinson, with the Welshman taking over from Jean-Paul de Marigny after a brief stint with the Newcastle Jets.

Robinson will be tasked with steering Wanderers up the table after an underwhelming 2019-20 campaign in which this week's hosts could only manage a ninth-placed finish, with Wanderers slowly slipping down the rankings over the past few years.

However, Wanderers ended last season relatively strongly at home and only tasted defeat in one of their last six matches on familiar territory, and the 2013 A-League champions rounded off their campaign with a 2-1 triumph over Melbourne Victory back in August.

Robinson's side were put to the sword in friendly fixtures with fellow top-flight outfits Central Coast Mariners, Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix, but Wanderers cruised to a 4-0 win over Blacktown City in their most recent outing on December 19.

Ante Milicic, now in charge of Macarthur FC, pictured in 2019© Reuters

Meanwhile, Macarthur's three-year rise to the big time sees the visitors welcomed to the A-League after the division's expansion, and Ante Milicic's side certainly are not here to make up the numbers.

A plethora of well-travelled stars will turn out for the Bulls in their maiden top-flight season, with the acquisitions of Spanish duo Benat and Markel Susaeta in particular representing a statement of intent from Macarthur, while Adam Federici and Matt Derbyshire both arrive with plenty of Premier League experience.

Milicic is sure to have plenty of selection headaches for the trip to Sydney, and while it remains to be seen how quickly the Bulls' squad can gel as a unit, there are plenty of reasons for optimism heading into the New Year.

Macarthur won three, drew one and lost two of their pre-season friendlies, with Milicic's men securing back-to-back victories over Wellington Phoenix and Adelaide United earlier this month.

Team News

Robinson looks set to retain De Marigny's three-at-the-back system from the 2019-20 campaign, and the hosts are spoiled for choice with a near fully-fit squad for their inaugural game of the season, although goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic is still struggling with a shoulder problem.

Tate Russell could get the nod on the right-hand side despite the recent arrival of Ziggy Gordon, while Simon Cox will likely be partnered up top by Bernie Ibini-Isei.

Former Scotland international Graham Dorrans is out of quarantine following his arrival and ready to start in the Wanderers midfield against Macarthur.

Macarthur's first ever lineup in an A-League match will most likely start with the experienced Federici in between the sticks, while Ivan Franjic and James Meredith should occupy the full-back positions.

In midfield, the veteran Mark Milligan - who sits eighth on the all-time appearances list for the Australia national team - could be joined by Benat and Loic Puyo.

Tommy Oar became the Bulls' first-ever signing when he joined in January, and the 29-year-old will be providing support to the 34-year-old Derbyshire up top.

Western Sydney Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Margush; Ziegler, McGowan, Mourdoukoutas; Russell, Dorrans, Baccus, Georgievski; Troisi; Cox, Ibini

Macarthur possible starting lineup:
Federici; Franjic, Susnjar, Jovanovic, Meredith; Milligan, Benat, Puyo; Susaeta, Derbyshire, Oar

SM words green background

We say: Western Sydney Wanderers 1-2 Macarthur

With the players that Macarthur have at their disposal, it is no wonder that the Bulls are already being tipped for title glory before stepping foot onto the pitch. There are plenty of winners in the visitors' ranks, but Western Sydney Wanderers will be desperate to get off on the right foot after a below-par 2019-20 season. Even though Milicic has had little time to figure out his best XI, Macarthur enjoyed a solid pre-season, and we are expecting the Bulls' inaugural A-League match to end in a hard-fought victory.

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