Melbourne Heart FC midfielder Matt Thompson will lead the Red and White into its crucial Australia Day clash against the Western Sydney Wanderers; a side the 30-year-old admits is ‘annoying’ to play against.
Melbourne Heart FC midfielder Matt Thompson will lead the Red and White into its crucial Australia Day clash against the Western Sydney Wanderers; a side the 30-year-old admits is ‘annoying- to play against.
Thompson will don the captain-s armband in the absence of regular skipper Fred, who suffered a quad strain in the 2-0 win over Adelaide United last Friday, and Heart's number 8 believes the clash at Parramatta Stadium looms as a tricky affair.
“They might not outplay teams each week… but they are an annoying side to play, with all due respect to them,” Thompson said.
“That-s nothing against them, they know what they need to do to win games and they do it well.
“They are a hard team to break down.”
Thompson has drawn comparisons between the Wanderers and the table-topping Central Coast Mariners.
“They know how to play together and they stick together,” Thompson said.
“And that-s definitely something that when you see their players [on paper before the season commenced] that if anyone who took them lightly, they would do so at their own cost and that-s shown this season."
With 11 matches remaining, Thompson has earmarked the next two matches against top-four opponents as a litmus test for the Red and White-s finals capabilities.
Eight points separate fifth-placed Heart and the top four, which has led to suggestions that the break-away group is now out of reach.
“It looks that way, but at the same time in the next two weeks we have Western Sydney and Victory so if we pick up six points there and obviously cost them three, then all of a sudden the gap isn't as big,” Thompson said,
“We are relying on other results to go our way, but at the same time if we continue to win, then, in the next month or so, the gap could be two or three points. We-ll just have to wait and see.”
Having knocked off second-placed Adelaide United, Thompson believes Heart has turned a corner and put to bed the perception that the team has been under pressure.
“I don-t think that we-re struggling at the moment, I think we-ve turned things around quite well since the New Year,” Thompson said.
“We showed against a good side on the weekend what we can do.”
Thompson also believes he has found consistency in his performances in recent weeks.
“The start of the season it was a bit up and down for whatever reason that was, but in the last five six weeks I seem to think I am having a bit more input in games which is something that I want to do,” Thompson said.