Preview: Perth v Newcastle
The Jets are flying high having won their last four matches while the Glory are in something of a slump. But don't expect this Boxing Day test to be all one-way traffic as the Jets look for their Christmas bonus.
Date: Saturday December 26 Kick-off: 5:00pm AWST, 8:00pm 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 6, Newcastle Jets 3, Draws 4
Previous Meeting Perth Glory 2, Newcastle Jets 0, ME Bank Stadium, Round 3, August 2009
Last five rounds: Perth Glory: Round 15: Perth Glory 2, Sydney FC 0, ME Bank Stadium 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
Newcastle Jets: Round 15: Newcastle Jets 0, Wellington Phoenix 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 16: Sydney FC 1, Newcastle Jets 3, Sydney Football Stadium Round 17: Adelaide United 0, Newcastle Jets 2, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 18: Newcastle Jets 3, Gold Coast United 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 20: Newcastle Jets 3, North Queensland 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium
Analysis: The Jets are flying high having won their last four matches while the Glory are in something of a slump. But don't expect this Boxing Day test to be all one-way traffic as the Jets look for their Christmas bonus.
One couldn't imagine a greater contrast in the fortunes of these sides this year, though. Going in, a Glory squad that looked top-two material on paper had it all before them while the Jets were in disarray, having lost former coach Gary van Egmond just before Round 1 as they attempted to recover from 2008-09's last-place finish. The first 14 weeks of the season weren't kind on Newcastle either, or new coach Branko Culina, the club sometimes occupying last on the table. But in the last six weeks, following an almighty thrashing in Wellington, the pieces have started falling together as Culina's squad's gelled nicely, playing an attacking brand of football that's seen them leap from pretenders to contenders once again.
In stark contrast, the wheels have fallen off for the Glory. Vying for top spot on the table in Round 11, the club has since struggled with injuries and an inconsistent first XI, having won just once in nine games. Most importantly, Perth seems to have lost its ability to find the back of the net, not making the most of numerous opportunities to claim full points during this period. Indeed, during the first 10 weeks of the season, the Glory scored 15 goals, while they've managed just seven since as they've struggled to overcome the absences of Mile Sterjovski and Branko Jelic for various games. It's not like Perth has been thrashed on the scoreboard, though, its consistent defence led by the brilliant Andy Todd ensuring the club's worst defeat was a 2-0 result last week at the Gold Coast. But it's been further up the park where problems have begun. The creative spark the club enjoyed up front last season as Nikita Rukavytsya and Eugene Dadi combined to great effect, just hasn't existed as a side-lined Dadi bides his time in the National Youth League, while Rukavytsya's sheer acceleration and threat hasn't been replicated by a Sterjovski, who's endured a particularly difficult time with niggling injuries. Down on confidence and down on form, the Glory may struggle to replicate the Round 3 result between the sides where Perth waltzed to a 2-0 win at ME Bank Stadium, but don't expect the Western Australians to just give up their proud home record, despite poor showings in their last two matches against the Fury (1-0) and Gold Coast (2-0).
However, the Glory are still missing Jelic's predatory threat up front, the striker absent for another week with an ankle injury, while midfielder Wayne Srhoj should miss one game with a minor knee complaint. Speedy defender Jimmy Downey returns to the side, while Andrija Jukic has also been promoted and may be a chance for his first start in Srhoj's place.
The Jets, though, for all their form, seem a distracted bunch. Culina has been up in arms over travelling to Perth on Christmas Day, while goalkeeper Neil Young, a local Western Australian, has repeatedly spoke about turning it on before Glory coach Dave Mitchell, who previously assessed him as not being Hyundai A-League standard. Young may have been better to keep his mouth shut, for Newcastle, despite its winning form, still remains vulnerable at the back after conceding six goals in the last five matches to Perth's four. The Jets strike force of Labinot Haliti, Sean Rooney, Jin-Hyung Song and Matt Thompson are all in form, however but they're still coming up against one of the most resolute defences in the business. If the Glory can find a way through to goal, it might be the spark it needs to fire up in this encounter. But Newcastle appears a side determined to enjoy its recent scoring run and a record fifth consecutive win could be on the cards for the travelling Jets.
Perth Glory Squad: 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), 8.Victor SIKORA, , 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)
Out: Wayne SRHOJ (injured - knee)
Unavailable: Brent GRIFFITHS (hamstring - 1 week), Branko JELIC (ankle - 1 week), Anthony SKORICH (foot - 4 weeks)
Newcastle Jets squad: 1. Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2. Angelo COSTANZO, 3. Adam D-APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5. Ljubo MILICEVIC, 6. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 7. Jin-Hyung SONG, 8. Matt THOMPSON (c), 9. Sasho PETROVSKI, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 15. Sean ROONEY, 20. Neil YOUNG (gk), 22. Kaz PATAFTA, 25. Labinot HALITI, 26. Ali ABBAS
*one to be omitted*
In: 6. Ben KANTAROVSKI (returns from suspension)