Perth appear to be unlucky, while the Roar appear to be out of form, the loser of this match might just kiss their season goodbye.
Date: Saturday 26 January, 2013 Kick-off: 10.00pm AEDT, 7.00pm local Venue: nib Stadium
Head-to-head Played: 24 Wins: Perth 5, Brisbane 14, Draws: 5
Previous encounter Brisbane 0, Perth 1, 21 December 2012
Form: Past five matches: Perth: LLDLD Brisbane: LLLWW
Last season's A-League grand finalists head into Saturday's fixture undermanned and desperate for victory after a dreadful start to 2013. Perth Glory have not won this year with just a draw from three matches, while reigning champions Brisbane Roar have notched one victory from four games in 2013.
That win came back on New Year's Day, however, and Brisbane have now lost three on the trot, slumping to second bottom on the A-League ladder. The Roar gave up a first-half lead at home last week as Western Sydney stormed back to win 2-1 and Brisbane copped a couple of extra blows with Besart Berisha and Shane Steffanuto both receiving their fifth yellow cards of the season, meaning they will miss the trip to Perth.
At least one of Matt Smith and Jade North will be expected to come into the Roar's back four against Perth having been rested last week, while Brisbane head coach Mike Mulvey will need to get creative to find a replacement for Berisha. Mulvey made it clear before the January transfer window that he wanted to sign a new striker but having thus far failed to do so, the Manchester-born manager has no obvious understudy for Berisha.
Perth could be missing defenders Bas van den Brink, Steve Pantelidis and Michael Thwaite, who are all battling injury issues, while midfielder Liam Miller is suspended. Glory winger Travis Dodd believes 18-year-old Brandon O'Neill could cover Miller's position but head coach Ian Ferguson has very few central defensive options left.
The big issue
Perth Glory - Dean Heffernan has done a good job filling in as a central defender for Perth over the past month and Ferguson will undoubtedly expect the 32-year-old to anchor his back four if Van den Brink, Pantelidis and Thwaite all fail to play against Brisbane. But who will Ferguson select alongside Heffernan? Captain Jacob Burns would probably do a decent job but with Miller suspended, Ferguson will be wary of pulling his midfield apart to fix his defence. One way or another, Glory look certain to select at least one player out of position.
Brisbane Roar - Mulvey has led the Roar to two victories in his six games in charge, since taking over from Rado Vidosic before Christmas, but with Brisbane sitting just a point ahead of last-placed Wellington Phoenix, can the new man do enough over the final 10 matches of the season to earn a new contract? Mulvey's deal expires at the end of the season and it is hard to imagine Brisbane's owners will be keen to keep him as head coach if the Roar finish in the bottom two.
Gamebreaker Thomas Broich. Berisha's absence will leave a big goal-scoring hole in Brisbane's line-up, with the Albanian striker having scored eight of the Roar's 20 goals this season. Broich was used as a false nine on a couple of occasions last season and his ability to control the ball under pressure, plus his powerful shot, could make him the best possible replacement for Berisha.
Prediction: Glory 1-1 Roar. Do not expect too many goals at nib Stadium on Saturday night. Perth are the worst attacking team in the A-League this season with just 18 goals in 17 games, while Brisbane will be missing their lead striker. With Glory's injury issues in defence and the Roar having kept just three clean sheets this campaign, both sides seem to have equal problems heading into Round 18. A draw seems the most likely outcome.