Western Sydney Wanderers deserve to be challenging for a top-four spot in the Hyundai A-League, according to Leigh Broxham, as his Melbourne Victory prepare to end the Red-and-Black's winning streak.
Victory will head north to face the Wanderers on Saturday night with Tony Popovic's hosts having won their past four matches in all competitions.
Three consecutive wins in the A-League has seen Western Sydney (34 points) rise above Perth Glory (33) into fifth in the table, just two points behind fourth-placed Melbourne City.
That form has some pundits predicting Popovic's side could be a darkhorse to reach the grand final and Broxham reckons the signs have been there all season that the Wanderers were dangerous.
"In my opinion, I don't think a lot [has changed]," the Victory midfielder told reporters on Thursday.
"They were playing some good football earlier in the year and things weren't falling their way.
"They have good players, [Brendon] Santalab's scoring for them now as well and I think the results they're getting now are the results they might have deserved earlier on."
Western Sydney won just two of their first 15 games of the 2016/17 Hyundai A-League campaign.
Goals were a problem for the Wanderers earlier in the season but they have scored three goals in each of their past four matches.
Meanwhile, Victory - who can't finish anywhere other than second - have lost three of their past four games in a worrying sign ahead of the finals.
Broxham conceded last week's 3-0 loss to Wellington Phoenix was one of the Big V's worst performances of the season - "too many boys not at 100 per cent" - but claimed Kevin Muscat's men will take confidence from their 3-0 win away to the Wanderers in December.
"In that game they had some very dangerous moments and they caused us trouble going forward and we scored some good goals against them," Muscat said.
"So, you know, it does give us confidence that we've managed to beat them and contain what they try and do against us."
Victory have beaten Wanderers in seven of the past nine meetings between the two clubs.