Wellington Phoenix will take a make-shift back four to Coopers Stadium on Boxing Day. Can Adelaide United take advantage to end their three-game losing streak against the Kiwis?
Saturday, 26 December 2015
Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix
Coopers Stadium, Adelaide
Kick-Off: 4:45 PM (Local) (5:15 PM (AEDT))
Referee: Chris Beath
Assistant Referee 1: Paul Cetrangolo
Assistant Referee 2: Stephen Toth
Fourth Official: Rick Schneider
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 891 ABC Adelaide*, ABC Local Radio SA*, ABC Grandstand Digital*, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live. 5RTI (Adelaide)
*Following coverage of the cricket
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #ADLvWEL
To purchase tickets visit www.a-league.com.au/tickets
Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) (c), 2.Michael MARRONE, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 5.Osama MALIK, 7.Pablo SANCHEZ, 8.ISAIAS, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA, 11.Bruce DJITE, 14.George MELLS, 16.Craig GOODWIN, 17.Mate DUGANDZIC, 18.Jimmy JEGGO, 19.Eli BABALJ, 20.John HALL (gk), 21.Tarek ELRICH, 23.Jordan ELSEY, 28.Antoni TRIMBOLI **two to be omitted**
Ins: 17.Mate DUGANDZIC (returns from injury), 19.Eli BABALJ (returns from injury)
Unavailable: 15.Ben WARLAND (suspended), 24.Bruce Kamau (hamstring - 4 weeks)
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1. Glen MOSS (GK), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 4. Roly BONEVACIA, 5. Troy Danaskos, 6. Dylan FOX, 7. Jeffrey SARPONG, 8. Alex RODRIGUEZ, 10. Michael MCGLINCHEY, `11. Kwabena APPIAH, 12. Blake POWELL, 13. Albert RIERA, 17. Vince LIA, 20. Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 21, Roy KRISHNA, 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Matthew RIDENTON, 25. Tamuoiwa Dimairo. **One to be omitted**
Ins: 6. Dylan FOX (promoted), 25. Tamupiwa DIMAIRO (promoted).
Outs: 14. Alex RUFER (broken tibia),19. Tom DOYLE (suspended).
Unavailable: 3. Justin GULLEY (muscle injury one to two weeks), 18. Ben SIGMUND (hip injury one to two weeks) 14. Alex RUFER (broken tibia, season), 19. Tom DOYLE (suspended).
Wellington coach Ernie Merrick has predicted Adelaide will utilise a pincer movement on Saturday, with the Reds likely to target the Phoenix's inexperienced full-backs.
The Phoenix's ballooning injury list includes four defenders and Merrick has been forced to promote former Bonnyrigg White Eagles centre-back Dylan Fox and 19-year-old academy graduate Tamupiwa Dimairo.
Ben Sigmund (hip) and Justin Gulley (hamstring) have been joined by Louis Fenton (ankle) and Tom Doyle (suspension) on the sidelines, with the latter three all having played full-back this season.
In more bad news for Wellington, midfielder Alex Rufer suffered a broken leg playing for the Phoenix's reserve team in the New Zealand Football Championship last week.
With Manny Muscat deputising alongside captain Andrew Durante in central defence in Sigmund's absence, Merrick may be forced to give starting debuts to Troy Danaskos, 24, and Dimairo at full-back.
Adelaide wingers Sergio Cirio and Craig Goodwin will be licking their lips.
Guillermo Amor's Adelaide will be desperate to continue their resurgence against a recent bogey team.
Wellington have knocked off the Reds in their last three encounters, including a 4-2 win at Westpac Stadium in November.
A win would see Adelaide move within two points of sixth-placed Wellington, who have only triumphed in one of their past five matches.
Last week, the Reds drew 0-0 at Newcastle Jets, while the Phoenix came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw at home against Sydney FC.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
The Phoenix will be aiming for consecutive away wins against Adelaide for the first time in A-League history
Wellington lost their last away game 2-1 to Brisbane Roar but have not lost consecutive road trips in a 10-match span where they have won four and drawn three
Adelaide have the second best passing accuracy (78.7%) of any team this season, the Phoenix have the second worst (75.6%)
ROUTE TO GOAL
The past six meetings between these two sides have seen an average of 3.7 goals per game, so this shapes as a Boxing Day cracker!
Merrick's men will know they need to pick up points over the festive period as they face trips to Adelaide and Central Coast Mariners, otherwise the New Zealand-based club could lose touch with the top sides.
It's been a tough run for the Phoenix - the New Year's Eve clash in Gosford will be their fifth away game in seven matches - but in Roy Krishna they have a man who can win a match by himself.
Krishna's penalty against Sydney was his sixth goal of the season, but with an undermanned defence, Wellington need the likes of Michael McGlinchey (2 goals), Jeffrey Sarpong and Alex Gorrin (both 0) to chip in up front.
Sarpong has been particularly disappointing this season with just the singular assist in 11 matches after being signed to fill the boots of Johnny Warren medallist Nathan Burns.
After a crazy four-game losing streak in October and November where they scored five goals but conceded 14, Adelaide have tightened up at the back during their revival.
One-goal wins over Perth Glory and Sydney were followed by last week's scoreless stalemate, and Amor may need to tweak his forward set-up to spark a scoring spree.
It's no coincidence, however, that the reinstatement of Argentine playmaker Marcelo Carrusca into the starting XI has seen the Reds move back up the table.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Marcelo Carrusca. The attacking midfielder went the closest of anyone to handing Adelaide a third consecutive win last week, as he struck the woodwork twice.
Adelaide United: DLWWD
Wellington Phoenix: LDWLD
Adelaide United 1-1 Wellington Phoenix