Preview: Sydney FC v Perth Glory

Sydney have proved a difficult nut to crack for Perth in recent times, with the Sky Blues winning the last five encounters.

Date: Wednesday, January 18 Kick-off: 5.30pm AEDT, 2.30PM WAST Venue: Campbelltown Sports Stadium

Head-to-head Played 19: Wins: Sydney FC 9, Perth 4, Draws: 6

Previous encounter Perth Glory 0, Sydney FC 1, November 12, 2011

History: Sydney has enjoyed bragging rights in this fixture of late, winning the last five games in a row dating back to February 2010. The most recent of those victories was just over two months ago in Perth where Mark Bridge's goal just before half-time was enough to give the Sky Blues a 1-0 win. It was a game the Glory dominated for long periods, especially in the second half but Sydney's defence held firm for a vital win on the road.

Form: Past five matches: Sydney: DLLLL Perth: LDDWW

Sydney are in freefall at the moment with four losses on the trot seeing Vitezslav Lavicka-s side drop out of the top six. They had a much-improved showing in their most recent clash, leading champions Brisbane Roar 1-0 deep into stoppage time before conceding two goals in a minute to someone steal a loss from the jaws of victory. It was an emotion-charged match and the Sky Blues will have to pick themselves up quickly for this one.

In contrast the Glory are flying high and have moved into fifth place on the ladder on the back of a four-game unbeaten run. Sunday-s gritty 2-1 win over the Heart in Melbourne was their second away win on the trot meaning a trip to the out-of-sorts Sydney won-t daunt them. Striker Shane Smeltz also seems to be finding some form at just the right time.

Match Committee: Sydney are one of the few squads in the A-League that currently has pretty much everyone in their squad available for selection. The big key for Lavicka is choosing the right players in the right formation to suit the club-s style of play. It-s been sadly-lacking over the last few weeks.

A big blow for the Glory with Travis Dodd ruled out with an abdominal injury. Everyone came through the impressive away win over the Heart unscathed. It-s unlikely Ian Ferguson will make any changes to his side for this match, unless the short turnaround takes its toll on some players. Chris Coyne (achilles), Victor Sikora (hip), Scott Neville (knee) and Neil Young (abdominal) are long-term absentees for the club.

Danger men: Mark Bridge - Bridge said before the weekend-s game against the Roar that he needed to start scoring some goals if the Sky Blues were to be a real finals contender. The 26-year-old lived up to his part of the bargain, grabbing his second goal of the season in the heart-breaking 2-1 loss. But the former Jets attacker is in good form and Sydney will need him to continue that if they are to break down the Glory-s defence.

Steven McGarry - After struggling to get into the Glory-s starting XI earlier in the season, McGarry is now enjoying a prolonged run in the side and it should come as no surprise Perth-s results have started to improve. The 32-year-old adds extra experience and class to the Perth midfield alongside Jacob Burns and Liam Miller, allowing the likes of Mile Sterjovski, Travis Dodd and Shane Smeltz to thrive in attack. Popped up with the winner against the Heart on Sunday also.

At the end of the day…This rescheduled clash from week nine shapes as a season-defining clash even this far out from the finals. It brings together one side clearly riding high on confidence and another who really don-t know where their next win is coming from.

Sydney learned the hard way just how long two minutes is in football. The Sky Blues looked like they had a hard-earned three points in their keeping against the Roar until a frantic 100 seconds or so saw them leave Suncorp Stadium with nothing. Just how much those lost points means to their finals hopes will be learned later in the season but it-s surely going to affect confidence. Sydney have proved time and time again this season they have good character in their squad with the many impressive comebacks they have conjured in matches. They-ll need to take that to another level to recover from the heart-break of Saturday evening.

Ian Ferguson looks to have finally got the balance right with his side with Burns, McGarry and Miller providing the steal in midfield, and Dodd, Sterjovski and Smeltz the quality in the front third. For so long the Glory-s achilles heel has been their form on the road but two wins on the trot indicates they may have found the right formula. But Sydney have proved a difficult nut to crack for Perth in recent times, with the Sky Blues winning the last five encounters.

The Glory will never get a better chance to right that stat than they will in this match. Sydney will probably enjoy having a home match away from the SFS where they have won just once all season. The last time Sydney played a ‘home- match outside the SFS they ended Brisbane-s 36-game unbeaten run. This game could go either way so I-m going to sit on the fence and pick a draw.