Preview: Western Sydney Wanderers v Wellington Phoenix
Western Sydney Wanderers FC are running out of chances keep their slim top six hopes alive. They simply must start winning now. But it won’t be easy against a Wellington team that has already beaten Tony Popovic’s side twice this season. Can Penrith be the place where the Wanderers get their campaign off the canvas?
Sunday, 8 February 2015
Sportingbet Stadium, Sydney
Kick-Off: 5pm (Local), 5pm (AEDST)
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1.Ante COVIC (gk), 2.Shannon COLE, 3.Yusuke TANAKA, 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (c), 5.Brendan HAMILL, 6.Antony GOLEC, 7.Labinot HALITI, 8.Mateo POLJAK, 9.Tomi JURIC, 10.Yojiro TAKAHAGI, 11.Brendon SANTALAB, 12.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 13.Matthew SPIRANOVIC, 15.Yianni PERKATIS, 19.Mark BRIDGE, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 25.Sam GALLAWAY, 33.Nick KALMAR
***two to be omitted***
Ins 6.Antony GOLEC (promoted), 9.Tomi JURIC (returns from international duty), 13.Matthew SPIRANOVIC (returns from international duty)
Outs 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO (not selected)
Unavailable 34.Golgol MEBRAHTU (knee – indefinite), 18.Iacopo La Rocca (injured – 2 weeks), 17.Romeo CASTELEN (injured – 2 weeks)
Wellington Phoenix 1. Glen MOSS (GK), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 4. Roly BONEVACIA, 5. Michael BOXALL, 7, Kenny CUNNINGHAM, 8. Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9. Nathan BURNS, 10. Michael McGLINCHEY, 12. Tyler BOYD, 13. Albert RIERA, 15. Jason HICKS, 16. Louis FENTON, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 20. Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 21, Roy KRISHNA, 22. Andrew DURANTE (capt), 23. Matthew RIDENTON
***two to be omitted***
Ins 20. Lewis ITALIANO (returns from injury), 15. Jason HICKS (promoted), 23. Matthew RIDENTON (promoted).
Outs 30. Oliver SAIL (omitted).
TV – Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 2 (New Zealand)
Radio – Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app. 2GLF
Referee Stephen Lucas
Assistant Referee 1: Owen Goldrick
Assistant Referee 2: James Tesoriero
Fourth Official: Chris Young
Penrith gets a taste of Hyundai A-League action and the Wanderers will be hoping it’s this part of Sydney’s west that can kick-start their horror domestic season. They’ve come up empty-handed on two trips to Wellington this season and haven’t found the back of the net against them either. A whopping 15 points behind sixth-placed Melbourne City, the Wanderers must start winning games now or they can put all their attention into their defence of the ACL which starts later this month. Phoenix was the hottest team in the competition before their late 3-2 loss to Brisbane on Monday night. Ernie Merrick wasn’t very happy with his side’s defending in that clash and will demand an immediate improvement.
There’s a couple of huge inclusions for the Wanderers with Socceroos pair Tomi Juric and Matthew Spiranovic both named in an extended squad. While they are not yet certainties to play, if they are passed fit by coach Tony Popovic it will give the ailing Wanderers a massive boost. Ernie Merrick is likely to stick with the same side that went down to Brisbane on Monday night, although Jason Hicks and Matthew Ridenton return and could get a spot in the squad.
OPTA DATA STATS
-Western Sydney remain the only side in the Hyundai A-League without a win this season (D4 L9).
-Phoenix’s loss at Brisbane in their last outing ended a run of seven games without defeat (W6 D1).
-Wellington has scored in all but one of their 15 games so far this season.
-The Wanderers have won none of their last five meetings with Wellington (D2 L3), scoring just twice in that time.
ROUTE TO GOAL
With Spiranovic and Juric back in the squad the Wanderers have a much stronger look about them, especially down the spine of the side. Juric looms as the key though. He will be supremely confident following his exploits with the Socceroos and with Brendon Santalab and Yojiro Takahagi to be better for the run last week, they have some exciting options in the front third. Popovic’s side must be wary though of Phoenix’s swift counter-attacks, using the pace of Nathan Burns and Roy Krishna.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Yojiro Takahagi. The Japanese international immediately announced himself to his new fans with a goal just five minutes into his debut against Melbourne City last weekend. If the Wanderers can keep possession better than they did in that match, his qualities should come to the fore even more. Let’s hope we can see a few more of the “Sumo” celebration as well.
It’s hard to believe the Wanderers were crowned kings of Asia just a few months ago considering how bad their Hyundai A-League form has been. The loss to City last Sunday was their ninth of the season, with still no wins from 13 games this campaign. Phoenix saw their four-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of Brisbane, losing 3-2. Merrick’s men dropped from second before the Asian Cup break down to fourth on the ladder as a result.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Wanderers have received the fewest yellow cards this season (20) but the most red cards (2).
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2-1 Wellington PhoenixIf their first two meetings this season are anything to go by there, will be little between these two sides at opposite ends of the table. It will come down to a moment of magic or maybe a defensive mistake. The returns of Juric and Spiranovic might just swing it in the Wanderers favour.