Preview: Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory

The cities of Wellington and Perth are over 5000km apart, and that distance tends to take its toll on Glory when they make the marathon trip across the Tasman.

Date: Sunday 8 January, 2012 Kick-off: 2.00pm AEDT, 4.00pm local Venue: Westpac Stadium

Head-to-head Played 15: Wins: Wellington 7, Perth 5, Draws: 3

Previous encounter Wellington 1, Perth 0, 10 December 2011

History: The cities of Wellington and Perth are over 5000km apart, and that distance tends to take its toll on the Glory when they make the marathon trip across the Tasman.

Phoenix have enjoyed some good results at home against Perth over the years, with their 4-0 win in January 2011 the standout. They've already met twice this term and took away a win each, meaning this will be the third and final time they'll clash this season, save for finals.

Form: Past five matches: Wellington: WLWLW Perth: LLLDD

Summary of form: Wellington fans should be delighted with how their side has gone about their business this season. Few outside the club predicted they'd be doing anything but making up the numbers, but they've run into some good form and rocketed themselves into fourth spot on the ladder as a result.

The 'Nix have won four of their last six games and have been dominant at home, scoring a total of nine goals in their last two fixtures at the 'Ring of Fire'.

Perth, on the other hand, have been dreadful overall. They haven't tasted victory since the visit of Gold Coast in early December, but they've stemmed the bleeding somewhat over the past week with two draws. The most recent one was against champions Brisbane Roar, who came from two goals down to steal a share of the points in a 3-3 result.

Match Committee: With Paul Ifill back from injury, Phoenix have an almost clean bill of health - save, of course, for the long-term injury to Lucas Pantelis.

Not so for Glory. Their medical room is chock full - there's Chris Coyne (achilles), Shane Smeltz (groin), Victor Sikora (hip), Scott Neville (knee), Neil Young (abdominal) and Andrezinho (hamstring) in there. Only Smeltz would be considered a chance of heading over to his native NZ. Striker Billy Mehmet will miss the trip after he picked up a knock against the Roar, while Dutch defender Bas van Brink will need to pass a late fitness test if he is to feature.

Danger men: Paul Ifill - He's back. After a spell out of action with a groin injury, Ifill returned to the Phoenix squad for Saturday's match against Sydney. Coming off the bench on the hour mark, the 32-year-old made his presence felt with a goal deep in injury time.

Wellington were already in good touch, but with a fit and firing Paul Ifill back in the mix their season could really go anywhere from here. They've always been hard to beat but with the Barbados international in form, they'll be even harder to contain.

Mile Sterjovski - The one-time Derby County man has yet to really set the A-League alight since his return to Australia. But could he be on the brink of it now, two years after signing on with the Glory. With two goals against Brisbane Roar, it's clear he hasn't lost his goalscoring instincts.

Perth desperately need a spark to push them up the table, and marquee man Sterjovski has the experience and the capabilities to be able to shoulder the load.

At the end of the day… It's one of the longest away trips in international football. Travelling is already hard enough, but the poor Perth Glory face a massive task on Sunday with their match in windy Wellington. Statistics show the odds are firmly stacked against them.

Already in uninspiring form, the Glory have never won at Westpac Stadium. In eight games, they've only scored a total of five goals in the New Zealand capital. To make matters worse, Wellington are looking the goods.

Their up-and-down form can be excused, since every single away trip for them means an international flight, not a domestic one. They were super impressive against Sydney, and they get to put their feet up at home while Perth deal with a four-day turnaround between matches by flying halfway across the world. The Phoenix should win here.