A-League: Western Sydney v Perth Glory
Played: 5 – Wanderers 4, Glory 0, Drawn: 1
Glory 0-2 Wanderers, February 22 2014
Past five matches:
Western Sydney made it back-to-back ACL wins with their gritty 1-0 triumph of Kawasaki Frontale on Wednesday night. But it's the A-League where they now need to focus after dropping to third spot as a result of last weekend's goal-less draw with Adelaide United. It increased the Wanderers' winless run in the domestic competition to three games. The good news is they have almost a clean bill of health, with defender Matthew Spiranovic finally set to return after a couple of weeks out. Popovic made nine changes for the midweek ACL clash and could make just as many for the visit of the Glory. Perth appeared set to secure a credible point against the Victory last weekend until they went to sleep for a split-second and allowed Archie Thompson to pounce and steal the game in stoppage time. It's become an all too familiar theme for Kenny Lowe's side of late, with their winless streak now at a horrible nine games. Their top six hopes are all but gone with their main goal now to try and avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.
The big issue:
Wanderers – The Wanderers will be playing their fifth match in 15 days and while Popovic is sure to re-jig his side there is sure to be some fatigue amongst the playing group. And that could leave them vulnerable late on, with the Wanderers conceding more goals in the 90th minute or later this season (five) than any other club in the A-League.
Glory – While Perth have fallen down in a number of areas in the last couple of months, they are proving to be real toothless in attack. With Shane Smeltz in-and-out of the side due to injury – and Jamie McLaren not yet delivering on his talent - the Glory have struggled to find any continuity or quality in the front third of late. Just seven goals in their last nine games tells the story and will be a major factor in the club missing out on the finals.
The game breaker:
Youssouf Hersi – It's believed Hersi is bound for Glory next season and the Dutch winger will be intent on showing them what they are going to get, as well as prove to Wanderers fans he's keen to go out with a bang. He is sure to give Perth youngster Jack Clisby a torrid time down the flanks and his pace and quality delivery from the right will be a huge threat to the visitors.
Prediction: Wanderers 2-0 Glory
Western Sydney have never tasted defeat against the Glory and there's nothing to suggest that will change now. Even though the home side will be playing their fifth match in 15 days, they are simply too strong, fit and well-structured for the Glory. If the Wanderers get an early goal, it should be a comfortable afternoon for them at the end of what's been a gruelling period of matches.