Preview: Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix

There promises to be plenty of feeling in this match given what happened when the sides met earlier this season

Date: Sunday, December 16, 2012 Kick-off: 5pm AEDT, 4.30pm Local time Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide

Head-to-head: Played 17: Wins: Adelaide 8, Wellington 4, Draws: 5

Previous encounter: Adelaide 3-1 Wellington, October 27, 2012

Form: Past five matches: Adelaide: DWWLW Phoenix: LWDWL

The Game: There promises to be plenty of feeling in this one given what happened when the sides met earlier this season.

For those who don't remember Phoenix defender Ben Sigmund was sent off for fouling Jeronimo Neumann, with Wellington skipper Andrew Durante labelling the Argentine a "cheat" for diving. What all that means is what should be a fiery and physical encounter at Hindmarsh.

The Reds will undoubtedly start heavy favourites after their emphatic 4-2 win over Melbourne Victory last weekend. The second-placed Reds are already six points clear of the Victory in third and are boosted this week by the return of skipper and goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic from Qantas Socceroos duty.

Meanwhile, the Phoenix saw their three-game unbeaten run come to a halt last Sunday in a surprise 2-1 home defeat to lowly Sydney FC. Herbert has hinted at changes to his side following the lacklustre performance with the likes of Louis Fenton, Tyler Boyd and the fit-again Dani Sanchez all chances to come into the starting line-up.

The Big Issue Adelaide: Can the Reds reproduce their stunning first half against the Victory last Friday on a regular basis?

The Reds played some of the most scintillating football this season in the opening half an hour, tearing the visitors to shreds and netting four exceptional goals. It was the type of football that has John Kosmina's side being rightly touted as title favourites. But the real challenge comes in doing that week in, week out, and against opposition they are expected to beat.

Wellington: Nobody in the Phoenix camp will have forgotten the events that transpired when the two sides last met. But it's vital Ricki Herbert does his best to keep his players' emotions in check and focus on their performance - and not retribution on Jeronimo.

Wellington have already shown this season they are a formidable outfit when they are all on the same page but can be just as vulnerable when off their game. They all need to be working together for the same cause to upset the red-hot Adelaide.

The gamebreaker Fabio Ferreira: It's hard to believe Ferreira was running around in the second tier of football in NSW earlier this year, at NSW State League club Dulwich Hill. While both the Sydney teams failed to recognise the former Chelsea trainee's talents, the wily John Kosmina swooped and the 23-year-old is paying him back in spades.

Ferreira not only set up the Reds' opener against the Victory last weekend with a sublime run, but he scored a superb goal and was a constant menace all match.

Prediction: Adelaide 3-1 Wellington With three of their next four games to be played at Hindmarsh Stadium, the Reds have a huge opportunity to pick up enough points to almost assure themselves of a top two spot.

The Phoenix have improved their road form recently but taking on the in-form Adelaide is a different challenge all together. There should be a few goals in this one and while the visitors will feel they have a score to settle with the Reds, they will find it hard to get any joy from Kosmina's troops.