The West Australian football public will get the festive fun of two games in two days at Optus Stadium as the footy festival of 30 games in 22 Days begins for the next 5 weeks.
For the Eagles and the Dockers, the common theme of their upcoming games is injury and suspension, and its not even on their own teams for once as we look at Round 8 of the 2020 Season.
SUNDAY – West Coast vs Collingwood – Optus Stadium – 1:35PM
Sunday’s game against Collingwood is shaping up to be the Eagles biggest test, even if the Magpies have a couple of key stars out through injury & suspension.
West Coast’s clash with Collingwood is the perfect match at the perfect time. The Pies will be without Jordan De Goey, Steele Sidebottom and Jeremy Howe, yet clearly have the best system and defensive set-up in the AFL.
Conversely, the Eagles have the worst offence of any current top-eight side. But the fact eight of their nine goals against the Dockers last week came from their tall forwards was an outstanding sign and they’ll be hoping to stretch the Magpies’ tall defence this week.
On the subject of their tall forwards, Kennedy, Darling and Jake Waterman will aim to zone in on their leads from the centre, especially against the tall backline of the Magpies.
To do that, they’ll have to play loose and lead hard to space inside their forward 50.
Players like Shuey, Ryan & Nic Nat can set up leads by dominating the clearance and penetrating the attacking zone by booting long and zoning the Magpies to push forward to attempt a flood on the centre of the ground.
If the Eagles are to win they’ll have to overcome the Magpies strangle on the midfield contest where they often outnumber the opposition and rip the ball out, Eagles will have to shift their mentality to get first to the ball and get plenty of numbers to it – being second to the ball will result in a loss for the Eagles.
Luke Shuey comes back into the side after sitting out a few weeks with hamstring troubles and Brandon Ah Chee has made way due to back complaints.
This one will be another classic, in the realms of their 2 finals clashes in 2018, the one point thriller in the West last year and the 1994 Qualifying Final at the WACA, add Sunday’s clash to the Eagles-Magpies book. And it will be an Eagles triumph.
TIP- Eagles By 3 Points
MONDAY – Fremantle Vs Geelong – Optus Stadium – 6:10PM
For the first time since 1987, a AFL match will be held in Perth on a Monday, but never before has a Monday night match been played in the West, so Fremantle & Geelong will create another slice of history in this unique 2020 Season.
Not being able to put 4 solid quarters of football together has been the biggest challenge for the Dockers in 2020, with lapses in concentration and intensity at the contest for short periods costing them games and last week’s derby loss was another prime example of such and Monday’s game against Geelong should be its perfect opportunity to eradicate those problems.
Players like James Aish, Adam Cerra, Blake Acres and Darcy Tucker have shown they can match quality opposition in patches during games but they will need to do it for the whole game.
Numbers to the contest and good execution are your fundamentals in football and so they need to achieve all of such if they are to overcome this Geelong side which are elite at scoring from midfield turnovers.
What’s also vital for Fremantle is not to get sucked in at the zone when the ball is heading towards their defensive 50.
The Eagles moved the ball slowly from defensive 50 in transition, pushing the Dockers forward, sucking them in allowing West Coast to kick to loose targets, Fremantle must NOT allow that to happen against Blicavs & Taylor when moving the ball.
Stephen Hill is out due to injury but the Dockers bring in Brandon Matera, Connor Blakely, Mitch Crowden, Reece Conca & Tobe Watson.
This one will be a beauty but there is still no conviction for Fremantle to play 4 good quarters, just hope they are competitive all night on Monday.
TIP- Geelong By 11 Points