Preview: Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers
Played: 4, Wins: Glory 0, Wanderers 3, Draws: 1
Wanderers 3-1 Glory, January 26 2014
Past five matches:
Western Sydney head to Perth on the back of a week off and Tony Popovic will be eager for his side to produce a similar performance to the one they did against Brisbane last time out. The Wanderers came away with a 1-1 draw against the Roar, but dominated large spells, particularly the second half. The Glory are struggling and go into the clash on the back of a five-game winless run which has included three losses. Included in that patch is a 3-1 loss to the Wanderers and Kenny Lowe's team need a win if they are to play finals in 2013-14.
The big issue:
Glory – can Perth find more goals? The Glory have the league's equal worst attack with just 19 goals in as many games. While they are without a clean sheet in their past four matches, goals are needed not only against the Wanderers, but later in the season. Shane Smeltz and Steven McGarry (three goals each) lead the Glory's goalscoring. Lowe will be looking for New Zealander Smeltz to find the form that has made him one of the league's sharpest strikers.
Wanderers – can Popovic's side build on what was an impressive display against Brisbane? They may only have taken a point from the clash, but looked dangerous as their pressing kept the Roar from dominating possession. With an eye on the AFC Champions League, the Wanderers will no doubt be setting their sights on winning the grand final this season after claiming the premiers' plate last campaign.
The game breaker:
Youssouf Hersi – the winger is always a threat and has the ability to expose Perth's young full-backs. He will fancy his chances against either Josh Risdon or Riley Woodcock and back himself to beat William Gallas for pace if he gets in behind centrally. Hersi likes to take players on and the Wanderers will undoubtedly want to get the ball into the 31-year-old to try and beat his man and be the key in attack.
Prediction: Glory 0-2 Wanderers
The Glory are struggling to both keep clean sheets and score goals and any team battling in those areas is sure to have problems against the Wanderers. If Popovic's men can continue to produce performances like the one against Brisbane, they will be hard to stop against most teams in the league. Perth's issues and the Wanderers' form means Western Sydney should be too good against a side they have never lost to.