There will be plenty of important match-ups in this weekend's Westfield W-League Grand Final and one of the most important will be in the heart of defence, between central defenders Emma Checker and Alanna Kennedy.
Since making her move from hometown club Adelaide United at the beginning of the season, former Reds captain Emma Checker has been exceptional for City, playing a key role in the Club being the best defensive team in the competition, having conceded just five goals this season.
While at the other end of the field, former championship winner with City, Alanna Kennedy has played a significant role for the Sky Blues, who have allowed eight more goals than City throughout the season, as the competition's second best defensive team.
Both Checker and Kennedy have been playing in the W-League throughout their careers with both players having represented the Westfield Matildas throughout that time. Checker has earned three caps, while Kennedy has become a mainstay in defence for the national team as she closes in on 100 international appearances.
Checker has been one of the competition's most consistent performers this season where she is yet to miss a game for her side, while Kennedy has missed four. Both strong in the air, they also like to get on the ball and distribute out from defence.
Checker excels is her passing and bringing teammates into the game. She makes on average 60.7 passes per 90 minutes at a success rate of 89.5%. Kennedy plays an average of 49.5 passes per 90 minutes at a success rate of 76.2%.
Checker is also not afraid to get forward and create, having played five crosses and four key passes while Kennedy has only played two crosses and no key passes this season to date.
In terms of key defensive stats, Kennedy has the edge on Checker in most categories. Kennedy has made 36 clearances and 20 interceptions while Checker has 21 clearances and four interceptions to her name this season. Kennedy also boasts an outstanding success rate for her tackles at 82.4% and has also blocked eight shots. Checker has made five less tackles and has a 41.7% success rate and has blocked two shots.
While both defenders will get into the box and look to score at set pieces, neither have found the back of the net. Four of Kennedy’s ten shots have been on target while Checker has had two attempts at goal that were both off target.
Both players are also relatively disciplined, having picked up just one yellow card each this season. Checker has conceded nine fouls while Kennedy has been whistled for a foul five times.
The performances of defenders Emma Checker for City and Sydney’s Alanna Kennedy will go a long way to deciding which team walks away with the championship.