Talking Points: How will Wanderers keep their momentum without O’Sullivan?

As Denise O’Sullivan’s seven-game guest stint in Red and Black comes to an end Western Sydney Wanderers boss Dean Heffernan will be scheming up a plan of how to replace her.

The Irish midfielder has been one of the Wanderers’ best players to date as Heffernan’s side have risen to second on the table.

It’s the club’s best ever start to a Hyundai A-League season by far, and with the genuine prospect of silverware on the cards Heffernan will be reluctant to toy with a winning formula.

However, as O’Sullivan returns to Ireland home for a well-earned rest following, Heffernan will be forced to reshuffle his deck and play a new hand without his midfield ace up his sleeve. 

Susan Phonsongkham was Heffernan’s alternative to O’Sullivan on Sunday when he substituted his star midfielder with ten minutes to play in his side’s 3-1 win over Perth Glory at Bankwest Stadium.

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Phonsongkham, 18, would have enormous shoes to fill should she be thrusted into the gaping hole left by the departing O’Sullivan, but she’s not the only candidate for the job. 

Courtnee Vine has been enjoying more minutes of late in the absence of striker Lynn Williams who is away with the USA national camp and, upon her return, Vine may find herself retaining a spot in the starting 11.

Whichever way Heffernan plans to address the issue, one thing is for sure: the Wanderers will not look the same from here on out.

But that’s not to say they’ll be worse. It all boils down to how Heffernan fills the O’Sullivan-shaped hole in his squad, and whether the player(s) he selects to fill that hole are up to the challenge.

Denise O'Sullivan

Are Victory a darkhorse for the title?

Having finished as Premiers last season, Melbourne Victory headed into the Westfield W-League 2019/20 Season with plenty of expectation as well as question marks whether they could remain a force.

While crosstown rivals Melbourne City, champions Sydney FC and a resurgent Western Sydney Wanderers making a blistering starts to the campaign, Victory stumbled into the new season.

Just one win from their first five games either side of a trip to Korea for the AFC Women’s Championship had Jeff Hopkins’ side lamgushing near the foot of the ladder.

But on the back of three straight wins Victory are suddenly on the cusp of the top four and one of the form sides of the competition.

Their 3-0 drubbing of Adelaide United on Saturday night has them level on points with fourth-placed Roar, but with the bonus of a game in hand.

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Skipper Natasha Dowie, who scored a double in the win over the Reds, is approaching top form in front of goal while they possess international quality at the back with the likes of Jenna McCormick and Teigen Allen in front of in-form keeper Casey Dumont.

While they have almost certainly given themselves too much work to do to catch City and retain their premiership, there’s a growing sense Victory could be timing their run perfectly for an assault on the Finals Series.

Methodical City march on

By their own admission Melbourne City didn’t reach any great heights in their 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets but they are charging on towards the Premiership.

Rado Vidosic’s side scored once in each half to see off the Jets at AAMI Park to make it eight straight wins and open up a six-point lead at the top of the ladder.

Milica Mijatovic and Emily van Egmond scored the goals, taking advantage of lapses in the Jets defence at key moments in the match.

They have also kept five consecutive clean sheets, last conceding a goal back on December 8 in the 2-1 win over Sydney FC.

What must be scary for their rivals is that City still appear to have a gear or two to go up the longer the season goes on.

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