A-League preview: Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers

Perth Glory will be desperate for a first home victory of 2015 to revive their faltering title challenge when they host a Western Sydney Wanderers side battling to restore pride and avoid picking up the wooden spoon.

FIXTURE DETAILS

Saturday, 28 March 2015

nib Stadium, Perth

Kick-Off: 6:30 PM (Local) (9:30 PM AEDT)

SQUADS

Perth Glory squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 4.Riley WOODCOCK, 5.Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 8.Ruben ZADKOVICH, 9.Andy KEOGH, 10.Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 11.Richard GARCIA, 14.Chris HAROLD, 16.Sidnei SCIOLA, 17.Mitch NICHOLS, 19.Josh RISDON, 21.Scott JAMIESON, 23.Michael THWAITE (c), 25.Mitch OXBORROW, 27.Dragan PALJIC, 28.Denis KRAMAR, 30.Jordan THURTELL (gk)

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 4.Riley WOODCOCK (promoted), 16.Sidnei SCIOLA (promoted), 25.Mitch OXBORROW (promoted), 30.Jordan THURTELL (gk) (promoted)

Outs: 15.Jamie MACLAREN (international duty), 18.Jack DUNCAN (gk) (international duty), 20.Danny DE SILVA (international duty)

Unavailable: 7.Youssouf HERSI (hamstring – season), 13.Diogo FERREIRA (knee – 1 week)

Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad: 1.Ante COVIC (gk), 3.Yusuke TANAKA, 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (c), 6.Antony GOLEC, 7.Labinot HALITI, 10.Yojiro TAKAHAGI, 12.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 14.Kerem BULUT, 15.Yianni PERKATIS, 17.Romeo CASTELEN, 18.Iacopo LA ROCCA, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 23.Jason TRIFIRO, 25.Sam GALLAWAY, 33.Nick KALMAR, 37.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 38.Steve KUZMANOVSKI, 42.Adrian MADASCHI

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 15.Yianni PERKATIS (promoted), 42.Adrian MADASCHI (new signing)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 2.Shannon COLE (collarbone), 5.Brendan HAMILL (thigh), 8.Mateo POLJAK (calf), 9.Tomi JURIC (international duty), 11.Brendon SANTALAB (shoulder), 13.Matthew SPIRANOVIC (hamstring), 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO (international duty), 19.Mark BRIDGE (injured), 22.Nick WARD (knee – indefinite), 34.Golgol MEBRAHTU (knee – indefinite)

BROADCAST DETAILS

TV Broadcast: Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 9.30pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: 720 ABC Perth, ABC Local Radio WA, Grandstand Digital, Online / ABC Radio Mobile phone app.

Hashtag #PERvWSW

Referee: Stephen Lucas

Assistant Referee 1: Josh Manella

Assistant Referee 2: Tim Mihevc

Fourth Official: Daniel Elder

BLUFFER'S GUIDE

Head coach Kenny Lowe, his Perth Glory players and the long-suffering nib Stadium faithful will be scratching their heads and wondering exactly what's gone wrong.

In the weeks before the break for the Asian Cup the Western Australia side had swept all before them to sit clear at the top of the A-League table, having gone from basement battlers last season to unlikely title favourites.

The new calendar year hasn't been kind to them though and they now find themselves fourth, four points back from new leaders Wellington Phoenix and just one point ahead of fifth-placed Adelaide United.

It's not just the premiership that's slipping away, with their chances of a top-two finish also receding fast. Home advantage in the finals is likely to prove crucial in what looms as one of the most evenly matched playoff series in the competition's history.

Glory have arguably the easiest run-in on paper of any of the title challengers, with Saturday's match the first of two meetings with cellar dwellers Western Sydney in their last five games of the regular season.

The Wanderers though, wounded by a dire domestic season, are proving to be a dangerous beast. On Wednesday they did some serious damage to Brisbane Roar's finals hopes, winning 4-1 at Suncorp Stadium.

Can Tony Popovic's much-changed side spring another surprise after making the long journey to WA?

OPTA DATA

- Perth's win over Western Sydney in November 2014 ended a run of six A-League matches against them without a win (D1 L5).

- Western Sydney have never failed to score against the Glory in seven previous clashes.

- The previous four meetings between the two in Perth have contained just eight goals, with only one seeing more than two goals (three in November’s match).

- Perth are yet to win at nib Stadium this calendar year, having recorded eight successive wins prior to that.

- Indeed, in each of those matches in 2015, Glory have let in two or more goals.

- Western Sydney were the last side to keep a clean sheet away to Perth Glory in February 2014, 14 games ago.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Perth are without striker Jamie Maclaren and creative youngster Daniel De Silva this weekend due to Olyroos commitments, but there's still plenty of firepower at Lowe's disposal in the form of Andy Keogh, Richard Garcia, Chris Harold, Sidnei Sciola and Dragan Paljic.

In Nebojsa Marinkovic and Mitch Nichols Glory also have two dangerous creative players in a well-balanced midfield, guarded by Rostyn Griffith and Ruben Zadkovich. But for reasons unknown, what had been a well-oiled machine has, if not ground to a complete halt, been spluttering worryingly for weeks now.

Western Sydney fans and neutrals alike can be forgiven for failing to keep up with the extraordinary turnover of personnel on Popovic's team sheet. International duty, an injury crisis and the mid-season axing of several players means the Wanderers squad and line-up is barely recognisable at times from the side that reached last season's grand final.

As far as the forward line is concerned, Tomi Juric is away with the Socceroos, Brendan Santalab's season has been ruined by shoulder injuries and he's been joined on the sidelines by Mark Bridge.

That didn't stop the Wanderers from putting four past the Roar in mid-week, Kerem Bulut, Romeo Castelen and Nikita Rukavytsya doing the damage at Suncorp Stadium.

Along with Labinot Haliti and Japanese attacking midfielder Yojiro Takahagi, there's still more than enough attacking talent to worry the faltering hosts on Saturday night.

WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Perth-born Adrian Madaschi will be back in WA with his new club this weekend after joining the Wanderers on a short-term deal. Will the 32-year-old feature against the Glory?

FORM LINES

Perth Glory: DLDDD

Glory conceded in injury time to draw 1-1 away to Central Coast last time out. Prior to that they lost a crucial showdown with Wellington Phoenix 2-1 at home and had previously drawn three matches in succession, 1-1 at Melbourne Victory, 2-2 at home to Brisbane Roar and 0-0 away to Melbourne City.

Western Sydney: WLLWL

The Wanderers broke their away drought by beating the Roar 4-1 on Wednesday. Before that they lost 2-1 to the Newcastle Jets, went down 3-0 to Melbourne Victory and defeated Melbourne City 3-2, all three of those games coming at home.

DID YOU KNOW?

- No player has more assists this season than Nebosja Marinkovic (eight).

PREDICTION

Perth Glory 2-1 Western Sydney

We're tipping this to be the weekend when Perth get their act together and take advantage of a travel-weary opponent with little to play for. If Glory can't notch three points in this one, and results go against them, their title hopes will suffer another sizeable dent. Time is running out.