Despite boasting a superior record against Wellington, an upset looms on the cards for Adelaide.
Date: Saturday 27 October, 2012 Kick-off: 5.30pm AEDT, 5.00pm local Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium
Head-to-head Played: 16 Wins: Adelaide 7, Wellington 4 Draws: 5
Previous encounter Adelaide 1, Wellington 2, 3 February 2012
Form: Past five matches: Adelaide: LWWDL Wellington: DDWLW
The Game Adelaide United will be desperate to bounce back and cling to top spot after their unbeaten start to the season came to an end last week at the hands of bitter rivals Melbourne Victory. The Reds' hoodoo at Etihad Stadium continued after they lost 2-1 despite taking the lead midway through the second-half.
United return home to Hindmarsh to welcome the tough test of Wellington, who have not lost this season. Wellington have an awful record at the ground having won just twice in nine matches but travel across the Tasman knowing they knocked off the Reds 2-1 on their last trip to the city of churches, late last season.
Reds coach John Kosmina has close to a full squad to choose from, with strikers Sergio van Dijk and Bruce Djite recalled. Former captain Jon McKain the only lingering concern for this week while long-term absentee Zenon Caravella is still two weeks from a return.
Wellington are boosted by the return of captain Andrew Durante to the centre of defence after he was a late withdrawal due to illness from the team that drew 1-1 with Brisbane last Sunday.
The New Zealand side will also be pleased that those who returned from international duty ahead of last week's match with the Roar got through unscathed and will be fresh and settled in to face Adelaide.
The big issue Adelaide United - The burning question for United fans this week is whether Kosmina will select a recognised striker, recently preferring to play without one, opting for attacking midfield quartet Jeronimo Neumann, Dario Vidosic, Fabio Ferreira and Iain Ramsay to find the back of the net in a counter-attacking style formation.
But after last week's loss in which Kosmina was critical of his side's cutting edge and work rate in the final third, Djite who has not scored in seven games and forgotten man van Dijk, could be in line for a return.
Wellington Phoenix - Wellington's main problem is whether they can win on the road, especially with a tough schedule ahead that sees the club return to Australia three more times in four weeks after Saturday's clash with Adelaide.
Ricki Herbert's men have instilled a new belief this year however, after claiming 15 points away from home in last season's domestic campaign - the best return since they joined the competition in 2007/08.
The change in mentality could prove useful given Wellington's last meeting with the Reds at Hindmarsh earlier this year was the platform for a late finals push after snatching a vital three points.
Gamebreaker Wellington winger Louis Fenton has been in red-hot form since debuting for the Phoenix on the opening round of the season and will be a menace to an Adelaide defence starved of pace.
Fenton already has a goal and an assist to his name in three appearances and should prove a handful on either wing for Reds' fullbacks Daniel Bowles and Cassio. Bowles who has often been exposed for being flat-footed this season will hope to avoid the fleet-footed and silky Fenton while Cassio can be expected to struggle to stay with the 19-year-old for 90 minutes despite possessing flashing pace of his own.
Prediction: Adelaide United 1-2 Wellington Phoenix Despite boasting a superior record against Wellington, an upset looms on the cards for Adelaide.
While United's defence has remained stout, conceding just two goals this season, the forward third has failed to bury limitless chances and may well pay the price like last Friday to the Victory.
Adelaide will likely fall behind just prior to half-time to a header from in-form Belgian target man Stein Huysegems, but hit back with an equaliser in the second-half as the game wears on via a spot-kick (they already have been awarded two this season) or dead ball opportunity.
The Phoenix should then steal victory late in proceedings courtesy of Fenton or Paul Ifill, who has a habit of rising to the occasion with a timely goal.