Perth will expect the three points here, but beating a resilient Gold Coast side on their own home turf is easier said than done.
Date: Sunday 18 March, 2012 Kick-off: 6.30pm AEDT, 5.30pm local Venue: Skilled Park
Head-to-head Played: 8 Wins: Gold Coast 4, Perth 2, Draws: 2
Previous encounter Perth 4, Gold Coast 0, 6 February 2012
History: The Glory had never beaten Gold Coast until this season, but they were convincing victors both times the two clubs did battle earlier in the season.
To be fair, that was largely because the tourist strip club saved their two worst performances of the campaign for their twin trips across the Nullarbor, conceding a total of six goals and failing to put one past the Perth defence, United were lethargic and wasteful on both occasions. It's interesting to note that, while the men in purple have never lost at home to Gold Coast, they've also never won at Skilled Park in six attempts.
Form: Past five matches: Gold Coast: LDDLD Perth: LWLWW
Summary of form: While Gold Coast United's future remains bleak and they still haven't won a match since Boxing Day last year, they're at least putting in the hard yards on the pitch.
They probably should have won away to Newcastle, given how many chances they had - fullback Daniel Bowles, who was brilliant in an unfamiliar position up the park, scored one goal but should have had three - but like they have been all season, they were punished for their profligacy. Before that was the 2-0 loss in Wellington which the club has put down to poor preparation, and prior to that, there were brave draws at home to Central Coast and Melbourne Victory.
Perth are maintaining their good form, which is coming thick and fast at the right time of the season. They backed up their 2-0 away win in Adelaide with a win over the ladder leaders, Central Coast, at home on the weekend.
The only goal of the match came early on through Glory winger Travis Dodd, as the Western Australians did well to hold the Mariners at bay in scorching conditions at nib Stadium. Impressively, Ian Ferguson's men have only lost two out of their last 13 matches.
Match Committee: Both teams have a number of players who featured in the Australian Under-23's match on Wednesday night, and as a result they could be given a rest by their respective coaches. Gold Coast's Zac Anderson and Chris Harold both played major roles in Australia's scoreless draw with Iraq, while Glory's Josh Risdon was also a part of the squad.
However, Gold Coast's treatment room is getting lighter - Dylan Macallister and James Brown both returned to training this week, though it's unclear who will be selected to play. There are a host of long-term absentees, including Joel Porter and Glen Moss, as well as departed trio Paul Beekmans, Jonas Salley and Kristian Rees.
Perth skipper Jacob Burns copped a blow against the Mariners and luckily was cleared of broken ribs - but he won't travel to the glitter strip for this one. Liam Miller is also under an injury cloud.
Fortunately for the Glory, they'll be able to field Steve Pantelidis and Josh Mitchell even though the defensive pair picked up their fifth yellow cards of the season. Because there have been 25 rounds of the season already played, they're both now three cautions away from a suspension.
Danger men: Adama Traore - The Ivorian flyer has just made his move to Melbourne Victory official. Having been a fixture of the Gold Coast side in their three seasons to date, he will be a big loss - but now Traore has two home games to farewell the club that gave him his start in professional football. Adept in defence but lethal going forward, the 22-year-old will need to be watched carefully by the Glory.
Shane Smeltz - This will be the first time Kiwi goal machine Smeltz will return to his old stomping group at Skilled Park as a visiting player. He's been battling injury of late but is back in the side and will be keen to add to the nine goals he's already scored so far this term.
At the end of the day… Perth should expect the three points here, but beating a resilient Gold Coast side on their own home turf is easier said than done. Even given the turmoil that 2012 has brought to the tourist strip, the youngsters of United have done exceptionally well to have limited the damage.
Almost every opposition coach that has come to Skilled Park has told the media that the Coast's position on the ladder does not do them justice, and it's true. What's lacking is the polish and the experience needed to convert chances into points.
That's one quality Perth has in spades. Shane Smeltz is a striker by instinct. Billy Mehmet also knows where the goals are. All across the pitch, Perth have players who have been there, done that and know how to win. The loss of captain Jacob Burns in the middle of the park will be difficult to get over, but it shouldn't make a difference to the result. While United will fight to the end, the Glory are likely to claim victory here.