Preview: Western Sydney Wanderers v Newcastle Jets

#EraseRacism Round concludes this afternoon with Clayton Zane hoping to get the Jets firing against the Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium, kick-off 5pm AEDT.

#EraseRacism Round concludes this afternoon with Clayton Zane hoping to get the Jets firing against the Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium, kick-off 5pm AEDT.



Played: 5 – Wanderers 3, Jets 1, Drawn 1

Previous encounter:

Jets 2-2 Wanderers, February 1, 2014


Past five matches:

Wanderers: LWDDW


The Game:

Western Sydney will need to pick themselves up quickly following their disappointing 3-1 ACL defeat to Ulsan Hyundai on Wednesday night.

Coach Tony Popovic is likely to make a few changes to freshen his squad for what will be the club's third game in eight days.

But the Wanderers do enjoy a great record against the Jets, with just one defeat from their five previous meetings, including a dramatic 2-2 draw from their most recent clash in the Hunter a month ago.

Newcastle are running out of time to make the finals, going down 2-0 at home against Sydney FC last weekend. Clayton Zane's side have now managed just one win from their last nine A-League games.

Don't be surprised if Wanderers attacker Mark Bridge has a big say on the outcome, with the two-time A-League winner scoring four goals in his last four games against his former club.

The big issue:

Wanderers – Western Sydney's fitness and mental toughness is sure to be tested as they run out for their third game in a week.

Recovery rather than training will have been the focus at Blacktown over the last few days which could leave the title-chasers a little vulnerable.

The last time the Wanderers were forced to play three games in a week earlier this season they weren't up to the task, going down in the third and final game of that stretch 1-0 to Adelaide.

Jets – Newcastle haven't had too many problems this season building up there play from the back and into midfield.

But it's once the ball gets into the final third where they are having trouble, often wasting the final pass or taking the wrong option.

It's meant they have only scored 20 goals from their 20 games this season, with only Perth Glory (19 goals) possessing a worse attacking record. They'll need to start adding some quality to their finishing if they are to start picking up consistent results to sneak into the top six.

The game breaker:

Joel Griffiths – Griffiths' first game back in a Jets jersey came against the Wanderers last month, with the veteran striker shown a red card after the final whistle for a tirade at referee Ben Williams.

It means he should have a point to prove and Newcastle could well do with his pace and eye for goal to spark their stuttering attack.

Adam Taggart got a brace against the Wanderers last time out and could do with a bit more support from the likes of Griffiths and Emile Heskey in front of goal.