A-League: Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory
Played: 22, Wins: Phoenix 10, Glory 8, Draws: 4
Glory 4-2 Phoenix, December 6 2013
Past five matches:
Wellington should be setting themselves for three points when they host Perth Glory on Sunday. Ernie Merrick's Phoenix side have been inconsistent in the past month, mixing impressive wins with dreadful losses. The last of those performances was a 5-1 loss in Adelaide, while the week before they thrashed Central Coast 4-1. The week prior to their win over the Mariners, Wellington were hammered 5-0 by Melbourne Heart. Wellington meet a Perth side winless in their past seven and now bottom of the table under Kenny Lowe.
The big issue:
Phoenix – can Wellington find some much-needed consistency? Merrick's side went on a five-match unbeaten run to set themselves up as finals contenders, but have become unpredictable when wins could have cemented their place in the top six. A win would be just the beginning of what the Phoenix need. Merrick will also be keen to see his side keep a clean sheet, having conceded 13 goals in their past four games and being without a clean sheet since mid-January.
Glory – can Perth avoid bottom place? Melbourne Heart never looked like climbing off the bottom but their recent form has suddenly left Perth last and three points adrift of ninth place. Lowe's side desperately need to end a seven-match winless run. They were positive for a half in Brisbane before losing 3-1 to the Roar. The Glory have issues all-round having scored the least number of goals (20) and holding the league's worst goal difference (negative seven).
The game breaker:
Stein Huysegems – the Belgian is equal top of the goalscoring charts in the A-League with 10 and has been in fine form throughout the campaign. He is due a goal having netted just once in the Phoenix's past three matches and will be excited about the prospect of taking on the Glory. The left-footer has shown he is capable of scoring different types of goals and if he can get combining with Carlos Hernandez, Wellington should score at least once.
Prediction: Phoenix 3-0 Glory
Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic's departure to J.League outfit Vegalta Sendai makes an already hard task even tougher for the Glory. Jack Duncan, 20, gets his opportunity, and he should be kept busy by an attacking Phoenix side. If Merrick's side get going, it could be tough for Perth to keep them out in Wellington. Given their recent form would have dented their confidence; the Glory will find it tough to get anything out of the encounter. Wellington need a win as they eye a finals place and should get the job done.