Preview: Perth Glory v Wellington Phoenix

Perth Glory host Wellington Phoenix in Round 9 of the 2013-14 A-League season at nib Stadium on Friday December 6 at 9.45pm AEDT.

Perth Glory host Wellington Phoenix in Round 9 of the 2013-14 A-League season at nib Stadium on Friday December 6 at 9.45pm AEDT.

Head-to-head: Played: 21, Wins: Glory 7, Phoenix 10, Draws: 4

Previous encounter:

Phoenix 1-1 Glory, November 9 2013 Past five matches:

Glory: LLDDW Phoenix: DLDLD The Game:

The first 'distance derby' between these teams this season ended in a 1-1 draw less than a month ago, and there was certainly little to separate them in Christchurch, with that score a fair reflection. Since then the Phoenix's search for a first win of the season has gone on, with Ernie Merrick's team suffering something of an unfortunate 2-1 defeat away to Sydney FC, before holding Western Sydney Wanderers to a credible 0-0 draw at home last time out. The feeling is that Wellington are not far away from getting it right, and a match against a Perth team weakened by injuries could be their best opportunity yet to finally get off the mark, despite the long trip to Western Australia. The big issue:

Glory – Can the Glory cope with their mounting number of defensive absentees? Marquee veteran William Gallas is slated to return from a calf injury this week, but is still lacking match fitness following his move to Australia. Scott Jamieson is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, while utility player Steve Pantelidis, who has spent plenty of time at centre-back, has been allowed to leave the club for Selangor in Malaysia. The likes of youngsters Jack Clisby, Riley Woodcock and Matthew Davies can all expect opportunities to prove their worth in the campaign ahead, but are they ready to take responsibility?

Phoenix – Goals. Wellington have plenty of attacking talent in the form of Carlos Hernandez, Kenny Cunningham, Jeremy Brockie, Paul Ifill and Stein Huysegems, who had a good game against the Wanderers without finding the back of the net. Someone in Wellington colours will need to soon though, because breaching opposition defences is the only way Merrick's side are going to climb the table.

The game breaker:

Jamie Maclaren - Glory have lost New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz for up to four weeks to an ankle ligament injury, meaning youngster Maclaren will receive more chances to impress in a central attacking role. Full of energy and with no shortage of desire, the 20-year-old has scored twice in eight appearances so far this term, but needs to be more clinical in front of goal if he is to fill the void left by Smeltz.