Tony Popovic says the Wanderers' loss to Melbourne Victory was the catalyst for their good form and plans to get revenge in their New Year's Day rematch.
Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said his side's loss to Melbourne Victory earlier this season was the catalyst for their surge up the table and plans to get revenge in their New Year's Day rematch.
A 10-man Victory came away with a 2-0 win when they visited Parramatta Stadium last month, with the Wanderers struggling to unlock the visitors defence despite the early dismissal of Sam Gallagher.
But Popovic's troops have improved significantly since then, losing just one of their last five matches to sit in fourth spot on the A-League ladder.
And a Wanderers win on Tuesday night would see them leapfrog the Victory into their position heading into the second half of the campaign.
While admitting his side inexperience in playing against 10 men came to the fore in the first meeting, Popovic said he expects the Wanderers to show how far they have come this time around.
"We've improved a lot since then," Popovic told reporters on Monday.
"It was a unique circumstance for us, playing against 10 men so early, and possibly we weren't prepared for something like that.
"We got punished on that day and we learned a lot from that match and since then we've shown a gradual improvement.
"We're hoping (Tuesday night) we can show that out on the pitch."
But they'll have to do it without influential midfielder Aaron Mooy, who is suspended following a fifth yellow card of the season against Perth last time out.
Livewire Tahj Minniecon (foot) and left-back Adam D'Apuzzo (calf) are also unavailable through injury.
Japanese star Shinji Ono, winger Youssouf Hersi and attacker Mark Bridge are all likely to come back into the starting XI from the side that drew 1-1 with the Glory.
If the Wanderers are to keep their strong run of form going they will need to stop in-form Victory winger Marco Rojas, who has been in career-best form since coach Ange Postecoglou arrived at the club.
"He's on fire at the moment," said Wanderers skipper Michael Beauchamp, who signed a one-year contract extension on Monday.
"He did well the first game against us and he's got so much confidence now.
"But in attack they've got some quality players.
"They've got playmakers in midfield and Archie (Thompson) out wide....it's going to be a tough game for us."