Phoenix has the opportunity to leapfrog Wanderers into the top six as a Super Saturday triple-header kicks off in Auckland. Who will get the perfect early Christmas present of three precious points?
Saturday, 17 December 2016
Wellington Phoenix v Western Sydney Wanderers FC
Mt Smart Stadium (Auckland)
Kick-Off: 7:35PM (Local) (5:35PM (AEDT))
Referee: Peter Green
Assistant Referee 1: Mark Rule
Assistant Referee 2: Glen Lochrie
Fourth Official: Alex King
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 4 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: ABC Grandstand, EON Sports Radio (eonsportsradio.com), Hawkesbury Radio
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #WELvWSW
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 2.Jacob TRATT, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Ryan LOWRY, 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 11.Hamish WATSON, 12.Adam PARKHOUSE, 13.Marco ROSSI, 14.Alex RUFER, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Vince LIA, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Matthew RIDENTON
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 14.Alex RUFER (promoted), 19.Tom Doyle (returns from injury)
Unavailable: 10.Michael McGLINCHEY (knee – 5-6 weeks)
Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad: 1.Jerrad TYSON (gk), 2.Shannon COLE, 3.Jack CLISBY, 5.Brendan HAMILL, 6.Mitch NICHOLS, 8.DIMAS (c), 9.Kerem BULUT, 10.Nicolás MARTÍNEZ, 11.Brendon SANTALAB, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 13.Bruno PIÑATARES, 14.Jumpei KUSUKAMI, 15.Kearyn BACCUS, 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 17.Artiz BORDA, 20.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 23.Lachlan SCOTT
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 1.Jerrad TYSON (gk) (returns from suspension), 2.Shannon COLE (promoted), 9.Kerem BULUT (promoted)
Outs: 40.Nick SUMAN (gk) (not selected)
A fascinating battle looms between two teams craving some consistency as they look to cement a spot in the Hyundai A-League top six.
Wellington made the perfect start to life under new management last weekend with their 3-0 triumph over Central Coast Mariners. It was the type of performance we expected of a squad as talented as theirs, albeit against a disappointing Mariners.
But it’s something for the side to build on heading into the crucial festive period.
Incredibly, despite sitting two points and two places above the Phoenix, Western Sydney has won less matches than this weekend’s opponents.
Tony Popovic’s troops have managed just two wins for the campaign and were thrashed 3-0 by a Besart Berisha-inspired Melbourne Victory last time out.
Home form has been an issue for the Wanderers so they may be relieved to fly over to Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium.
The key to this contest may well be the battle between Phoenix’s attacking stars and the visitors’ shaky defence.
Despite being just over a third of the way through the season, this looms as a vital three points for both sides to kick-start their stuttering campaigns.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Wellington’s Roy Krishna is one of the hottest strikers in the Hyundai A-League right now.
The quick Fijian has netted six goals in his last six appearances and is proving to be a real handful.
It’s not just his pace but a clinical finishing ability as well as an improving decision-making.
While his form has been a joy for Wellington’s fans, they will have also been encouraged by what they saw from Kosta Barbarouses and Gui Finkler last weekend.
The two high-profile recruits have yet to hit their straps but look to be finding their feet, while they have often saved their best for the Wanderers during their time at Victory.
Their 4-1 drubbing of the Mariners aside, goals have been hard to come by for the Wanderers.
They have scored just 13 goals in their 10 games from 104 shots, for a conversion rate of just 12.5%.
With five goals, striker Brendon Santalab is Wanderers' main source of goals. He endured a torrid time in front of goal last weekend, squandering some excellent opportunities which cost them any chance of victory.
Nico Martinez’s creativity will again be important for them but it might be time for playmaker Mitch Nichols to step up. While his overall play has been good, he has yet to score this season after contributing 10 in the 2015/16 Season.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Vince Lia. The Nix midfielder scored a cracker last weekend, earning him a spot in our TOTW, and he’ll have a big role to play in this one trying to stop the likes of Nichols and Martinez in the middle of the park.
FORM LINES (last five games)
Wellington Phoenix 2-3 Western Sydney Wanderers