Preview: Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory

Victory will have to be clinical as Glory's record of not losing by more than a goal this season means the home team will be tough to break down.

Date: Saturday 19 January, 2013 Kick-off: 9.45pm AEDT, 6.45pm local Venue: nib Stadium

Head-to-head Played: 22 Wins: Perth 9, Victory 8, Draws: 5

Previous encounter Victory 1, Perth 0, 30 November 2012

Form: Past five matches: Perth: LDLDW Victory: DWLWW

The Game Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou will no doubt have ordered his team to work on their finishing this week after they missed out on a win over league-leaders Central Coast in Round 16.

Postecoglou's team dominated the Mariners in the first half and passed up a host of goal-scoring opportunities, including a penalty attempt from Marco Rojas, before Marcos Flores gave Victory a 1-0 lead just before half-time.

Central Coast salvaged a point in the second half thanks to Daniel McBreen's spot kick and third-placed Melbourne cannot afford to throw away wins like that as they strive to keep pressure on the teams above them.

Postecoglou had left young striker Luke O'Dea out of the squad for last week's match in Launceston, opting for defensive midfielder Jonathan Bru instead and Victory lacked attacking options when they were chasing the game.

The score line in Perth Glory's 3-2 loss away to Adelaide United may have flattered the men from Western Australia as they scored twice in the last couple of minutes.

But having had a makeshift defence in Adelaide, coach Ian Ferguson could have both Josh Risdon and Michael Thwaite back for Melbourne's visit. This should ensure a typically strong defensive performance from Glory.

The Big Issue Perth: Can Ian Ferguson fix his team's faltering attack in time to spark a run to a second-successive A-League grand final? Perth Glory sit sixth on the ladder having scored 18 goals this season, the lowest of any team in the competition.

While Shane Smeltz has seemingly found his scoring boots again, Glory still need a boost up front. Ferguson hopes to have signed a new striker before the Victory clash to cover the departure of Billy Mehmet to Thailand club Bangkok Glass.

But after four-straight games in purple, Japanese attacker Ryo Nagai has shown signs he could be the answer to Ferguson's problems in front of goal.

Victory: Perth's nib Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for Melbourne Victory throughout the history of the A-League. In 11 trips to Western Australia, Victory have only managed two wins and one draw. Can Postecoglou find the antidote to Victory's dismal record in Perth?

After last week's disappointing draw against Central Coast, Postecoglou will be keen for his team to capitalise on all opportunities and claim maximum points to try and overhaul Adelaide United and the Mariners before the finals. Saturday night's game will be a big test of whether Victory can become clinical enough to win silverware this season.

Gamebreaker Marcos Flores: After a less than glamorous start to his career wearing the Big V, Flores has thrived with the extra responsibility after Gui Finkler's injury.

The 27-year-old Argentine has scored a goal in Victory's past two matches and also won the penalty Rojas failed to convert against the Mariners. With Finkler out for the rest of the season, Flores has become Melbourne's main creative midfielder and will be crucial in the lead-up to the A-League finals.

Prediction: Victory 2-1 Perth. Melbourne Victory seemingly need a season-defining performance if they are to challenge for a spot in the A-League's top two before the finals. It could have come last week as Postecoglou's men dominated the Mariners in the first half but a rare win in Perth would be a great stepping stone for Victory.

With Flores hitting form and Rojas still flying, Victory have the attacking weapons to hurt Perth and the Glory's scoring problems could hand the visitors the three points.

But Victory will have to be clinical as Glory's record of not losing by more than a goal this season means the home team will be tough to break down.

At the other end Perth's main man up front, Shane Smeltz, has scored three goals in Glory's past two matches, which will ensure a tough night at the office for Melbourne's captain Adrian Leijer and his defensive unit.