Preview: Wellington Phoenix v Western Sydney Wanderers

Phoenix may have got the money when these sides met in Wellington but that was before the Wanderers hit their straps and went on a sensational run.

Date: Sunday, January 13, 2013 Kick-off: 2.30pm AEDT, 4.30pm Local Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1HD and Sky Sports Highlights (LIVE HD).

ABC Radio Coverage - Updates only

Head-to-head: Played: 1 - Wins: Wellington 1, Western Sydney 0

Previous encounter: Wellington 1-0 Western Sydney, December 2, 2012

Form: Past five matches: Phoenix: LDWLL Wanderers: WWDWL

The Game The Phoenix will be relieved to be back on home turf after a couple of tough losses on the road. The poor run of form has seen Wellington drop to ninth place on the A-League ladder heading into a crucial period of the season.

While they are still without attacker Paul Ifill (injured) and Manny Muscat (suspended), youngster Tyler Boyd is available again and could come straight back into Ricki Herbert's starting side.

Western Sydney are still sitting nicely in fourth spot despite their gritty 2-0 loss to league leaders Central Coast last weekend. It was just the Wanderers first defeat in their last six games.

Tony Popovic will have a few more players to choose from with skipper Michael Beauchamp, winger Youssouf Hersi (both suspended) and midfielder Mateo Poljak (injured) all back in the squad. Midfielder Jason Trifiro won't make the trip across the Tasman though due to his red card against the Mariners. The last time these sides met an Ante Covic howler gifted the Phoenix a 1-0 win.

The Big Issue Phoenix: Wellington have played some great football in the last few weeks but still come away with nothing. The reason for that has been some sloppy lapses of concentration in from their normally-resolute defence.

The Phoenix have built their success in recent seasons on the strength of their back four but they won't figure in the finals this time around unless the likes of Andrew Durante, Ben Sigmund and Muscat can get the required steel back in their game.

Wanderers: Besides last week's defeat, it's been all good news for the Wanderers of late as they have emerged as genuine title contenders. And while the goals have been a little easier to come by recently, they are still lacking some depth in attack.

Dino Kresinger's injury means Popovic has only had Joey Gibbs to lead the line in recent games. The Wanderers could face a big problem should Gibbs pick up a knock also. Club officials and coaching staff must really consider signing another striker during the January transfer window.

The Gamebreaker Michael Beauchamp: The Wanderers skipper might not seem like your typical gamebreaker but he certainly is vital to the fortunes of the A-League newcomers.

Beauchamp has missed two games so far this season - including last weekend's clash with the Mariners - with the Wanderers losing both matches. He has formed a good combination in defence with Nikolai Topor-Stanley and if they can keep the likes of Jeremy Brockie, Louis Fenton and Ben Totori quiet then the visitors are a good chance of picking up their first win in New Zealand.

Prediction: Phoenix 1-1 Wanderers The Phoenix may have got the money when these sides met in Wellington earlier this season but that was before the Wanderers hit their straps and went on a sensational unbeaten run.

Popovic's side have looked stronger with every match and won't have lost any confidence despite going down to the Central Coast last weekend. But the Phoenix are desperate and while they have suffered back-to-back defeats their form isn't that bad. What does that all mean? Don't be surprised if these two teams cancel each other out and share the spoils.