Stats Preview: Western United need Phoenix-killer Berisha more than ever
Western United are in need of a hero. Could the Hyundai A-League's greatest goalscorer to come to the fore?
The Hyundai A-League new boys are in a bit of a rut ahead of Friday's trip across the Tasman to face Wellington Phoenix.
Mark Rudan's side have not scored a goal in February, following a goalless draw with Newcastle Jets and last Sunday's 1-0 defeat to Brisbane Roar. They have won just one game from their last seven matches.
Months on from their inaugural game against the Phoenix in New Zealand, Friday's clash is shaping as a make-or-break moment in the debut season of Western United, who after a promising start to life have four points to make up on the top six.
Fortunately, in Besart Berisha, Rudan's side have a man who lives for these occasions. Of course, Berisha became the club's first-ever goalscorer by scoring the winner in that 1-0 triumph last October, in which he ended an 18-month goal drought.
He has scored 14 career goals against the Phoenix – no other player has score more against the boys from the Kiwi capital. The stage is set for Berisha to make his mark again.
Mariners on the brink of slipping away
Runaway leaders Sydney FC coming to town is probably the last fixture Central Coast Mariners will have wanted.
Alen Stajcic's side slipped into bottom position following last Friday's 2-0 reverse to Adelaide, their fifth defeat in a row. The last time the Mariners lost more in succession was a 10-match stretch from November 2018 to January 2019.
It is worrying reading for the Gosford team who host a Sydney side with just one defeat to the Mariners in their last 16 games.
A statistic indicative of their misfortune in this match up is that the Mariners have led a half-time in four of their last seven matches against the Sky Blues, but have accrued just a single win from those four matches.
MATCH PREVIEW: Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC
Has Perth's castle been breached?
Perth Glory are nine games unbeaten and have kept six clean sheets during that span, but are chinks beginning to appear in the reigning Premiers' armour?
Tony Popovic's side shipped two goals to both Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix in their previous two Hyundai A-League fixtures. Perth haven't conceded multiple goals in consecutive games since Popovic took the helm.
Popovic will undoubtedly have drilled his charges during last week's bye ahead of Saturday's fixture with in-form Brisbane Roar.
Robbie Fowler's side have won four of their last five, and a win would see them move within a point of third-placed Perth on the ladder.
MATCH PREVIEW: Perth Glory v Brisbane Roar
Jets on the up and could sink Victory even lower
Newcastle Jets boss Carl Robinson will want to build on promising signs on exhibition in their 1-1 draw with the Wanderers last time out, when the Novocastrians entertain Melbourne Victory.
Newcastle are undefeated in their last three matches and are beginning to steady the ship. They have made the most shots on target per game (5.9) of any Hyundai A-League team this season.
After battering the Mariners with four goals a fortnight ago and salvaging a point away to Western Sydney, there are plenty of reasons to suggest the Jets can secure three points which would lift them above Victory into ninth on the ladder.
MATCH PREVIEW: Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Victory
Western Sydney Wanderers must be wary of Adelaide United danger man Nikola Mileusnic in Friday's clash.
The flying winger has been directly involved in four of Adelaide's last seven goals against the Wanderers, with two goals and two assists.
Mileusnic's five goals this season from 16 starts is already his best return in the competition.
MATCH PREVIEW: Western Sydney Wanderers v Adelaide United