Hyundai A-League preview: Wanderers v Glory
Two inconsistent but undoubtedly talented mid-table sides open 2017 looking for a kick-start to their Hyundai A-League campaigns.
Sunday, 1 January 2017
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Kick-Off: 7:50PM (Local) (7:50PM (AEDT))
This shapes as a crucial mid-season clash for two clubs seeking the consistency to match their realistic playoff aspirations.
Wanderers have just two wins all season, but have kept pace by virtue of their accumulation of points from seven drawn matches.
An inability to keep goals out has been the major issue; in fact, Wanderers are the only A-League side yet to keep a clean sheet this season.
Perth are without a win in their last five games, leaking a dozen goals in the process, but showed in the thrilling 3-3 draw with Melbourne City they are the equal of the best teams in the competition on their day.
These two played out an entertaining 2-2 draw earlier in the season, and look set to keep fans guessing throughout ninety minutes here, too.
- Wanderers are undefeated in their last four games against Perth Glory (W2, D2) with both wins coming on home soil.
- In fact, the Wanderers have won all but one of the six encounters played between these teams in New South Wales (L1) and have kept three clean sheets in that span.
- Western Sydney Wanderers have drawn seven of their last 10 games after having drawn only seven of their 43 games prior.
- Perth Glory have conceded 20 goals in their last eight games away from home, letting at least one goal in during the opening half of each of those fixtures.
- In fact, no team has conceded more goals this term than Glory (26, level with Central Coast Mariners).
ROUTE TO GOAL
Tony Popovic’s need for striking reinforcements was further exacerbated this week with the three-game suspension handed to top-scorer Brendon Santalab. Apart from him, no Wanderer has more than two goals this season.
With Kerem Bulut departing and Lachlan Scott still raw and unproven, the transfer window can’t come quickly enough for Popovic and Western Sydney.
Even so, they’re not without attacking threats with Mitch Nichols, Jumpei and Nicolas Martinez all capable of tearing opposition defences to shreds, as the Mariners found out a month ago.
The return of Diego Castro to the starting line-up provided a significant boost for Perth in their 3-3 draw with Melbourne City, the Spaniard producing two sublime finishes to help his side gain a share of the points.
Andy Keogh remains Glory’s go-to man despite not having found the net in three outings, while former Socceroo Adam Taggart has the potential to complete a lethal combination in the front third.
If Kenny Lowe can provide the framework for Castro to supply goals and assists, Glory will trouble any side, particularly one with the defensive fragility Wanderers have shown so far this season.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK
Liam Reddy. The veteran goalkeeper was a huge factor in Glory’s 3-3 draw with Melbourne City, denying sharp-shooter Bruno Fornaroli not once but twice with penalty saves.
FORM GUIDE (last five games)
Western Sydney Wanderers: DWLDD
Perth Glory: LDLLD
Western Sydney Wanderers 2 Perth Glory 2