Liberty A-League R8 Preview: How history could be made this weekend

Round 8 of the Liberty A-League season is upon us! Ahead of the action getting underway, previews all six of the contests.


Friday, 7:00pm (AEDT): Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne City

Two teams looking to get back on the winners list kick-off Round 8 in Gosford, as Central Coast Mariners welcome Melbourne City to town on Friday night.

The Mariners fell to a second successive defeat last weekend, this time at the hands of Western Sydney Wanderers who came away with a convincing 3-0 win at Wanderers Football Park.

However, the familiar surroundings of Industree Group Stadium may bode well for the Mariners, who have performed much better at home, going unbeaten in their last two games and only conceding twice in their three matches in Gosford.

City, on the other hand, are looking to bounce back after falling to their first loss of the season at the hands of Perth Glory.

Dario Vidosic’s City rested a host of key players returning from international duty including Rebekah Stott, Emina Ekic, Daniela Galic and Naomi Chinnama who were either out of the squad entirely or started from the bench, while Julia Grosso missed through injury.

All five players should significantly bolster City’s starting line-up for the trip north, especially down back with the return of Stott and Chinnama.

However, their defensive issues have been a constant all season, conceding 13 goals, with 12 of those coming in the last five matches.

It’s the first-ever meeting between the two sides, with City coming into the competition after the Mariners initially disbanded in 2010.

Opta stat: Melbourne City have conceded multiple goals in each of their last five A-League Women games (W3 D1 L1); a sixth straight game of multiple goals conceded would equal their longest stretch in competition history (6 games – January to February 2021).

Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne City
Friday, December 15 2023
Industree Group Stadium
Kick-off: 7:00pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: 10 Play and Paramount+

Saturday, 5:00pm (AEDT): Melbourne Victory v Canberra United

The league’s most exciting team rolls into Melbourne this weekend.

Fresh off their first win of the season, Canberra United take on Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park in what is shaping up to be one of the games of the round.

Njegosh Popovich’s side demolished Brisbane Roar 5-1 on the weekend, led by a hat-trick from Vesna Milivojevic, who continues to take the league by storm. The Serbia international has eight goals to start the campaign, helping Canberra have the second-best attacking record in the league so far with 15 total goals.

Milivojevic suffered a knee injury last weekend but she is in the squad this week.

After Bruno Fornaroli became the third player to reach 100 A-Leagues goals last week, Michelle Heyman will look to edge even closer to becoming the fourth as she currently sits on 97 goals.

Should she reach the milestone, she will be the first in Liberty A-League history to reach triple figures, joining Isuzu UTE A-League trio Melbourne City’s Jamie Maclaren (148 goals), legendary striker Besart Berisha (144 goals) and Fornaroli (100 goals).

Meanwhile, Victory come into the contest unbeaten in their last five games, rising to fourth on the table as a result of their good form.

Jeff Hopkins’ side played out an entertaining 2-2 draw with Wellington Phoenix last week, which keeps them right within touching distance of the sides above them.

Kurea Okino has found form in the last two weeks, scoring in back-to-back games, including a lovely goal to bring Victory level last weekend.

These two sides have played out some thrillers in recent times, including a famous 0-0 draw in March 2022, that saw Victory just secure a finals berth on the final day of the season – kickstarting an unlikely Championship run.

Opta stat: There have been 35 goals scored across Canberra United’s last six games in the A-league Women; Canberra United have won just once in that span (D2 L3) and neither kept nor conceded a clean sheet.

Melbourne Victory v Canberra United
Saturday, December 16 2023
Kick-off: 5:00pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: 10 Play and Paramount+

Saturday, 5:30pm (AEDT): Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix

It’s been over nine months since Adelaide United last tasted victory in the Liberty A-League.

The Reds are without a win since March 11 (2-1 win over Perth Glory) and will be looking to finally change that when they take on the red-hot Wellington Phoenix on Saturday.

Adelaide sit bottom of the Liberty A-League standings with only two points to their name, coming in draws against Brisbane Roar and Canberra United.

Compounding matters, Adelaide have dropped seven points from winning positions this season, showcasing that they are giving themselves a chance at claiming maximum points but closing out said matches have been an issue.

Their opponents Wellington sit third on the standings after a brilliant start to life under Paul Temple.

The Phoenix drew 2-2 with Melbourne Victory last week and could have easily taken home all three points had it not been for some wayward finishing.

Isabel Cox is a chance to make her Wellington debut after signing for the club last week as an injury replacement for Grace Wisnewski.

Opta stat: Melbourne City (61%) are the only team with a higher rate of possession than the Wellington Phoenix (52%) and Adelaide United (52%) in the 2023-24 A-League Women season.

Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix
Saturday, December 16 2023
Marden Sports Complex
Kick-off: 5:30pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: 10 Play and Paramount+

Sunday, 5:00pm (AEDT): Newcastle Jets v Western United

Newcastle will bid farewell to Emily van Egmond as she plays the final match of her four-game stint with the Jets on Sunday against Western United.

Van Egmond has been sensational in her return to the Jets, scoring two goals and tallying two assists in her opening two games, before only playing a half in their 1-0 loss to Sydney FC, having only just returned from international duty with the Matildas.

Her return has coincided with a better run of performances from the Jets, who defeated Canberra 4-3 and pushed Championship contenders Melbourne City and Sydney FC right to the wire.

Western, on the other hand, returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over Adelaide United in Kat Smith’s first game as head coach.

Consistency has been an issue for Western this season, as they are still yet to string consecutive wins together, and beating the Jets won’t be a walk in the park for last season’s runners-up.

The last time these two teams met saw Western come away with an emphatic 6-0 victory.

Opta stat: Adriana Taranto (Western United) scored two goals last time out in the A-League Women (9 December 2023 v Adelaide United) after scoring only one goal across her 43 appearances in the competition prior to that game; she provided three assists the last time she faced Newcastle Jets (26 February 2023).

Newcastle Jets v Western United
Sunday, December 17 2023
No.2 Sportsground
Kick-off: 5:30pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: 10 Play and Paramount+

Sunday, 6:00pm (AEDT): Brisbane Roar v Western Sydney Wanderers

The tide is beginning to turn at Wanderland.

Western Sydney Wanderers are flying high after back-to-back wins and will look to keep the good times rolling when they take on Brisbane Roar at Perry Park.

Robbie Hooker’s side defeated Central Coast Mariners last weekend 3-0, led by a brace from in-form striker Sophie Harding who has been on a tear in the last three weeks. Harding has four goals in her last three matches, soaring up the Golden Boot standings to sit in third place.

Hooker’s decision to overload their side with blistering pace all over the park has paid dividends, particularly in getting in behind set defences.

Network 10 commentator Teo Pellizzeri summed it up best, describing the attack as “the Wanderers 4×100 team” of Harding, Cushla Rue, Holly Caspers and “whoever they want because they are so far in front”.

Their opponents Brisbane are still looking for their first win under new coach Alex Smith.

Roar’s winless run extended to five last weekend in a devastating 5-1 loss to Canberra United, where they in fact, created 11 more chances than their opponents but were undone by poor finishing and defending.

Opta stat: Brisbane Roar are without a win in their last five games in the A-League Women (D2 L3), their joint- longest run without a win in the history of the competition; their last victory was a 1-0 win over Sydney FC in Round 2 of this season.

Brisbane Roar v Western Sydney Wanderers
Sunday, December 17 2023
Perry Park
Kick-off: 6pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: 10 Play and Paramount+

Sunday, 10:00pm (AEDT): Perth Glory v Sydney FC

Another match of the round contender comes from Macedonia Park as league leaders Perth Glory take on reigning champions Sydney FC.

Glory returned to the winners list with a 3-1 win over Melbourne City last weekend, headlined by a hat-trick from Millie Farrow, who is starting to hit her straps over the last fortnight.

Farrow now has four goals to her name for the season – after breaking her duck in the 2-1 loss to Wellington Phoenix before the international break – to go with her league high three assists.

Sydney, on the other hand, came away with a much-needed 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets, which took them back into the top six.

Cortnee Vine marked her return from injury by coming off the bench and scoring the winning goal against her former side. Kirsty Fenton also played the full 90 minutes in her return game, boosting a Sydney defence which sorely needed reinforcements.

Despite their inconsistent start to the season, Sydney are still in a good position to pounce in the coming weeks, still having two games in hand on all the sides above them as a result of their commitments in Asia.

A win over Perth, however, will go a long way to letting the rest of the competition that they’re still a force to be reckoned with.

Opta stat: Perth Glory are undefeated in their last nine A-League Women games at Macedonia Park (W7 D2), scoring multiple goals in all but one of those games as well as keeping five clean sheets across that stretch.

Perth Glory v Sydney FC
Sunday, December 17 2023
Macedonia Park
Kick-off: 10pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: 10 Play and Paramount+