Preview: Western Sydney Wanderers v Central Coast Mariners

Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners will meet in Round 11 of the 2013-14 A-League season at Pirtek Stadium on Monday December 23 at 7:00pm AEDT.

Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners will meet in Round 11 of the 2013-14 A-League season at Pirtek Stadium on Monday December 23 at 7:00pm AEDT.

Form:

Past five matches:

Wanderers: WDDLW

Mariners: WLWDW

The Game:

Last season's grand finalists will collide for the second time this campaign having shared the spoils with a 1-1 draw in Round 1. Ten weeks on and the Wanderers have climbed to second spot on 19 points while the Mariners hold down fourth place on 16 points after beating Wellington Phoenix 1-0 at North Sydney Oval on Thursday night. It was a good response from Phil Moss's men after they were thumped 4-0 by Adelaide United a fortnight ago. However, backing up against a Wanderers side that hasn't tasted defeat in their last 10 games at Pirtek Stadium presents a major challenge for the visitors.

The big issue:

Wanderers – defence has played a major role in the Wanderers' success in their first one-and-a-half A-League seasons, but they need to start finding the back of the net more often. They have conceded the least goals (seven) of any side in the opening 10 rounds but their return of five goals in their past six games is on the modest side.

Mariners – fatigue could be a factor for Moss's men after Thursday's clash with the Phoenix. There will be no shortage of motivation for the reigning A-League champs but their ability to run out the full 90 minutes against a Wanderers squad coming off a nine-day turnaround will go a long way to deciding the result.

The game breaker:

Youssouf Hersi – The in-demand Dutchman is yet to hit full stride after spending several weeks on the sideline with a foot injury earlier in the campaign. While the Wanderers have several game breakers, Hersi is their main X-factor and they are a much more potent attacking force when the right winger is at his best.