Preview: Brisbane Roar v Western Sydney

Champions Brisbane continue to underachieve, with the team sitting in eighth position and just one point from the A-League basement.

zDate: Sunday, January 20, 2013 Kick-off: 5pm AEDT, 4pm Local Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Head-to-head: Played: 2 - Wins: Brisbane 0, Wanderers 2

Previous encounter: Wanderers 1-0 Roar, December 9, 2012

Form: Past five matches: Roar: LWWLL Wanderers: WDWLW

The Game: Champions Brisbane continue to underachieve, with the team sitting in eighth position and just one point from the A-League basement.

Mike Mulvey's side come into this clash on the back of two straight defeats - including last Saturday's 1-0 loss to Newcastle - and have also lost both previous meetings against the Wanderers this season. The Roar will need to find a replacement in midfield for the influential Erik Paartalu after the 26-year-old signed with Chinese club Tianjin Teda this week. In some good news for the club, Socceroos defender Jade North is set to make his debut.

The Wanderers are the form side of the competition, having tasted defeat just once in their last seven games.

Last weekend's impressive 2-0 away win over the Phoenix means Tony Popovic's side have a healthy six-point gap between themselves in fourth and the Jets, who fifth. Striker Dino Kresinger and winger Tahj Minniecon are expected to miss out again but midfielder Jason Trifiro is back from suspension.

The Big Issue Roar: The Roar's defensive troubles this season have stemmed from not having a settled central defensive combination, with Ivan Franjic, Matt Jurman and James Donachie all used at different times to partner skipper Matt Smith.

The signing of Socceroos stalwart Jade North could be the solution. North is expected to make his debut for the club this weekend and he could provide the stability needed for the Roar to produce more consistent performances.

Wanderers: There's not too much going wrong when you've lost just one of your last seven matches. One thing that might keep coach Tony Popovic up at night though is which players to actually put into his starting XI.

After showing his not afraid to rest and rotate his squad, Popovic has found that whoever he has brought into his line-up has performed well. Now he just needs to work out what his best side is for when the big finals games come around later this year.

The Gamebreaker Besart Berisha: The Roar may have found it hard going in front of goal this season but Berisha has still managed to find the back of the net on eight occasions.

But the Albanian has also probably missed a lot more chances than he normally does and if the Roar are to mount a serious challenge for a title three-peat then he will need to find his scoring boots on a more consistent basis. It won't be easy in this game up against the resolute Michael Beauchamp and Nikolai Topor-Stanley.

Prediction: Roar 1-2 Wanderers If Brisbane are too make a genuine fist of a third-straight title-winning season then the time has come for them to make a statement.

News of crisis meetings between coach and players won't give their fans much confidence they can turn things around but you only need to take a quick glance down the Roar team-sheet to know the talent is definitely there.

But the Wanderers have shown in recent months they are worthy finals contenders and their well-organised and counter-attacking game seems to suit playing the Roar. They've already won in Brisbane once this season and it would come as no surprise if they did it again.