Preview: Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory

Melbourne's hold on top spot is under serious siege after last week's loss to Queensland while the depth of Ernie Merrick's squad is firmly under the spotlight after another suspension, this time to Carlos Hernandez, and an injury to defender Michael Thwaite.

Date: Saturday October 4 Kick-off: 5:00pm AEST Venue: Telstra Dome

TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 2 and Sky Sport 2. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is SEN (Melbourne) 1116AM and 6PR (Perth). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com.au.

Head-to-head Nine A-League meetings: Melbourne - 3 wins, Perth - 2 wins - Draws - 4

Previous meeting Perth Glory 3, Melbourne Victory 1, Round 15, December 2007

Past five rounds Melbourne: Round 2: Wellington Phoenix 2, Melbourne Victory 4, Westpac Stadium Round 3: Melbourne Victory 5, Newcastle Jets 0, Telstra Dome Round 4: Melbourne Victory 1, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome Round 5: Central Coast Mariners 2, Melbourne Victory 2, Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium Round 6: Melbourne Victory 0, Queensland Roar 2, Telstra Dome

Perth Glory: Round 2: Perth Glory 3, Newcastle Jets 3, Members Equity Stadium Round 3: Sydney FC 5, Perth Glory 2, Sydney Football Stadium Round 4: Queensland Roar 3, Perth Glory 0, Members Equity Stadium Round 5: Perth Glory 1, Wellington Phoenix 0, Members Equity Stadium Round 6: Central Coast Mariners 4, Perth Glory 1, Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium

Analysis Melbourne's hold on top spot is under serious siege after last week's loss to Queensland while the depth of Ernie Merrick's squad is firmly under the spotlight after another suspension, this time to Carlos Hernandez, and an injury to defender Michael Thwaite.

It means Merrick has been forced to shuffle things around a bit, but he refuses to abandon his attacking-looking formation and says he is committed to playing three strikers, with Tom Pondeljak moving alongside Danny Allsopp and Archie Thompson and Grant Brebner slotting in behind.

The Victory's first defeat of the season served as a bit of a wake-up call and there has been plenty of discussion at the club this week about turning things around after two matches without a win. That doesn't appear to have affected the club's confidence ahead of this match, and that seems well placed considering Perth has never won a match in Melbourne.

Thwaite and Hernandez are the two men out while Nick Ward will come in and play a role off the bench in what would be his first appearance of the season. Steven Pace is included as defensive cover while Mathew Theodore, a National Youth League player, has been put in the squad should Ward not prove his fitness.

The positive buzz around Perth lasted just a week after the Glory failed to back-up their 1-0 win over Wellington. The visitors were sorely outclassed by Central Coast 4-1 leaving them back on the bottom of the table and David Mitchell looking at the drawing board once again.

A further blow for the club was the loss of James Robinson for 10 weeks with a groin injury and he joins Amaral (1 week), Hayden Foxe (1 week) and Josip Magdic (season) in the medical room. Dino Djulbic has another two weeks to serve of his ban.

The Glory can take some heart in the fact they beat Melbourne last time the two teams met in an A-League match but the Victory did win 1-0 when they played in the Pre-Season Cup.

Melbourne Victory Squad. 2.Kevin MUSCAT (Captain), 4.Steven PACE, 7.Matthew KEMP, 8.Grant BREBNER, 9.Danny ALLSOPP, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 14.Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 17.Jose Luis LOPEZ, 18. Leigh BROXHAM, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 22.Nick WARD, 24.Mathew THEODORE, 40.Lou ACEVSKI (gk) *One to be omitted.

In. Steven PACE (promoted), Nick WARD (return from injury), 24.Mathew THEODORE (promoted from Youth). Out. Michael THWAITE (ankle - 3 weeks), Carlos HERNANDEZ (suspended - 1 match). Unavailable. NEY FABIANO (suspended - 4 matches), Michael THEOKLITOS (suspended - 1 match), Sebastian RYALL (international duty - 2 weeks), Nathan ELASI (international duty - 2 weeks).

Perth Glory Squad. 1.Jason PETKOVIC (gk), 2.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 3.David TARKA, 4.Jamie COYNE (c), 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 7.Nick RIZZO, 9.Adrian TRINIDAD, 11.Scott BULLOCH, 13.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 14.Eugene DADI, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.James DOWNEY, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 20.Frank JURIC (gk), 22.Wayne SRHOJ, 26.Jeff BRIGHT, 27.Stuart McLAREN, 30.Tando VELAPHI (gk). * three to be omitted.

In. Jeff BRIGHT (promoted), James DOWNEY (return from injury), Nick RIZZO (promoted), Tando VELAPHI (promoted). Out. James ROBINSON (groin - 10 weeks). Unavailable. AMARAL (hamstring - 1 week), Dino DJULBIC (suspended - 2 weeks), Hayden FOXE (foot - 1 week), Josip MAGDIC (ankle - season).