Preview: Perth Glory v Sydney FC
There are subplots galore as Perth Glory prepares to take on Sydney FC at ME Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon in a clash that could prove vital to both side's chances in the upcoming play-offs.
Date: Sunday January 10 Kick-off: 4:00pm AWST, 7:00pm AEDT Venue: ME Bank Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and Sky Sport 1. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 6PR (Perth) 882AM. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com
Head-to-head 13 Hyundai A-League meetings: Wins: Perth Glory 4, Sydney FC 4, Draws 5
Previous Meeting Perth Glory 2, Sydney FC 0, ME Bank Stadium, Round 15, November 2009
Last five rounds: Perth Glory: Round 16: Central Coast 0, Perth Glory 0, Bluetongue Stadium Round 17: Perth Glory 1, Brisbane Roar 1, ME Bank Stadium Round 18: North Queensland 1, Perth Glory 0, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 20: Gold Coast United 2, Perth Glory 0, Skilled Park Round 21: Perth Glory 4, Newcastle Jets 0, ME Bank Stadium
Sydney FC: Round 17: Sydney FC 4, North Queensland 1, Sydney Football Stadium Round 18: Wellington Phoenix 0, Sydney FC 1, FMG Stadium Round 20: Melbourne Victory 0, Sydney FC 0, Etihad Stadium Round 19: Central Coast 0, Sydney FC 1, Bluetongue Stadium Round 21: Sydney FC 1, Adelaide United 0, Sydney Football Stadium
Analysis: There are subplots galore as Perth Glory prepares to take on Sydney FC at ME Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon in a clash that could prove vital to both side's chances in the upcoming play-offs.
Sydney may be sitting three points clear on top of the table but it has Melbourne Victory breathing down its neck and the Victorians may have even re-taken top spot by the time this match goes ahead. More importantly, the Victory has a game in hand over the New South Welshmen, so the Sky Blues have plenty of work ahead to hold onto that position over the season's final weeks.
Sydney, though, hasn't been helped by something of an injury crisis at the worst possible time. The biggest hit was taken midweek when star striker Alex Brosque injured his groin training for Australia ahead of the Kuwait clash. He's been included in Sydney's initial squad but will not make the trip to Perth, while Sebastian Ryall (knee - six weeks) and Matthew Jurman (foot - season) are also unavailable. Added to this, central defender Simon Colosimo is also suspended for this game and won't make his second return to former club Perth, where his every move is booed by the Glory faithful.
But while Colosimo won't be lining up in the back four, another former Glory man is expected to take his place in what could be a very interesting appearance. Although he managed only two games for the Glory last season, former Qantas Socceroos defender Hayden Foxe has been picked up by Sydney on a short-term injury replacement contract. Foxe has been living in Perth since being let go by the club last season and has even been seen training at the same gym the Glory attend alongside his former team-mates. Not only does he know many of the Glory players personally, he knows how they play and position themselves and he acts accordingly. In many ways, the laconic Foxe was one of the biggest tragedies in the Glory's Hyundai A-League history. The now 32-year-old looked very solid going into the start of the 2008-09 campaign but re-injured his problem foot during the pre-season. He made it back for two games against Sydney and Adelaide, starring against the Sky Blues as he snuffed out numerous attacks in a 2-1 win for the Glory, before a hamstring injury and then a suspicious growth on his leg prevented him playing again. But his experience and ability to read play, particularly against players he knows, could give Sydney a massive edge in this encounter.
The Sky Blues may need that edge as the Glory have had the wood over them over the last 16 months, beating them on three consecutive occasions. Perth may have only won 2-0 the last time they played, but the margin could have been much greater as the Glory laid siege to Clint Bolton's goal. After a rough ten-week period where the Glory managed just that one win over Sydney, the club has been rejuvenated by a 4-0 Boxing Day demolition of Newcastle. But coach Dave Mitchell is all too aware his side remains vulnerable to dropping out of the six despite that result. Consistent wins are therefore needed over the last few rounds, particularly ahead of a difficult road trip where the Glory faces Melbourne and Adelaide in succession. But Perth is facing injury issues as well, with senior members Wayne Srhoj (knee) and Victor Sikora (thigh) unavailable, while Naum Sekulovski and Jimmy Downey have both been ill throughout Christmas. Mile Sterjovski, Jacob Burns and Tando Velaphi have all had a difficult travel schedule, having been in the Australian camp in Kuwait, although Sterjovski was the only one of that trio to play for the Qantas Socceroos. However, striker Branko Jelic appears to have recovered from a knee injury and may be used off the bench.
On their home patch, the Glory are difficult to beat and will take great confidence from the Newcastle win. But where Perth defeated Sydney during that club's down period earlier in the campaign, the Sky Blues have now won four of their last five. Whether they can maintain that form without Brosque's creativity is anyone's guess, while the Glory may need to find that elusive, sparkling Boxing Day form once again to earn full points.
Perth Glory Squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2.Jimmy DOWNEY, 3.Jamie COYNE, 4.Andy TODD, 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 6.Chris COYNE, 7.Jacob BURNS (c), 11. Branko JELIC, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 13.Scott BULLOCH, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.Todd HOWARTH, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 20.Aleks VRTESKI (gk), 21.Mile STERJOVSKI, 23.Andrija JUKIC
*one to be omitted
In: Jimmy DOWNEY (promoted), Andrjia JUKIC (promoted), Branko JELIC (returns from injury)
Out: Victor SIKORA (injured - thigh)
Unavailable: Wayne SRHOJ (knee - 2 weeks), Anthony SKORICH (foot - 3 weeks)
Sydney FC squad: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 2. Sebastian RYALL, 3. Stephan KELLER, 6. Karol KISEL, 7. Brendan GAN, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 9. John ALOISI, 10. Steve CORICA (c), 12. Shannon COLE, 13. Anthony GOLEC, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 15. Terry MCFLYNN, 16. Chris PAYNE, 18. Adam CASEY, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 22. Sung-Hwan BYUN.
*two to be omitted*
Out: 4. Simon COLOSIMO (Suspended - 1 week), 23. Ryhan GRANT (Suspended - 2 weeks)
Unavailable: Kofi DANNING (Knee - season), Matthew JURMAN (Foot - season)