West Coast Eagles and Essendon have just four wins between them in the 2022 AFL campaign and there will be plenty on the line at Optus Stadium on Friday night.
At the start of the season not many would have predicted West Coast being bottom of the ladder after 13 games with Essendon just two places above them.
The Eagles have had a nightmare season. In fairness what could go wrong, has gone wrong and they have just the one win to their name.
Essendon’s drop down the ladder is just as dramatic. The Bombers squeezed into finals last year and were expected to kick on again in 2022. However they have gone the other way and have a 3-10 win-loss record this season.
They are way off the eight and the pressure is on coach Ben Rutten. Despite finals being out of reach for both these sides there is still a lot at stake.
The Eagles and Bombers need to start climbing the ladder and at least give the fans some hope for next year. It really could go either way in the west on Friday night.
What: West Coast Eagles v Essendon
Where: Optus Stadium, Perth
When: 20:20 (AEST) Friday 24th June, 2022
Odds: West Coast 17/10, Essendon 47/100
Light at the end of the tunnel for Eagles?
The Eagles have won just the one game this season and that came away at Collingwood. It was a rare bright point in what has been a disastrous season so far.
They have since gone on to lose the next nine games on the spin and Adam Simpson and his players will be desperate to snap the losing streak on Friday night.
West Coast may not get a better chance against a Bombers side that have issues of their own and are struggling for results.
Not only have the Eagles been losing this season, they have been trounced on more than one occasion. Two of the heaviest defeats have both come on home soil.
Richmond Tigers thrashed them by 109 points, while the Bulldogs wrapped up a 101-point win in round 11.
Since that mauling there have been slight signs of improvement. Yes the Eagles have lost but at least they have been competitive.
Last Saturday high-flying Geelong were made to work for their 18-point win at Optus and Simpson will be hoping for further improvement on Friday.
Simpson has said that the Eagles will still feel like underdogs heading into games but says the belief is finally starting to return to his players. They now have the chance to build on that against Essendon.
Injuries have been a huge issue for West Coast and now that some key players are returning it should help the cause. Premiership stars Elliot Yeo, Dom Sheed and Willie Rioli are all back in action while Liam Ryan should also return against Essendon.
Nic Naitanui could also return in a couple of weeks following a two-month absence.
There is light at the end of the tunnel but they need to start getting results on the pitch, starting against Essendon.
Bombers out to build on Saints win
Essendon have had a season to forget but showed what they are capable of when they get it right when they shocked St Kilda last weekend.
They had won just two games out of 12 heading into the clash. Nobody really gave them hope against the high-flying Saints. However they turned them over 107-72 on their own patch.
It was a rare glimmer of hope for the Bombers but it is now important they build on it and back-up the win with a victory over West Coast.
Coach Rutten could once again be without Darcy Parish who missed the win over St Kilda with a corked calf. The midfielder will be given time to prove his fitness but Essendon can take heart from the fact they won without him last week.
Youngsters Jye Caldwell, Archie Perkins and Ben Hobbs all thrived against the Saints and Rutten will have every faith in them again when they face the Eagles.
Essendon will be without half-back Andrew McGrath for the next couple of weeks though after he suffered a recurrence of a adductor injury against St Kilda.
The Bombers have a tough looking run on the horizon with games against Sydney and Brisbane to come so another win over West Coast will give them an extra lift.
Rutten could certainly do with a good run of results as the pressure is on him following the slide down the ladder.