Friday night’s clash between the Glory and Victory is shaping up as a huge battle of wills with both teams coming off significant losses from last weekend.
Friday night-s clash between the Glory and Victory is shaping up as a huge battle of wills with both teams coming off significant losses from last weekend.
Melbourne Victory-s back-to-back 5-0 thrashings against the Wellington Phoenix (away) and Sydney FC (home) have caught a lot of pundits by surprise, having only lost one game by a five-goal margin prior to these two matches (0-5 v Brisbane in Oct 2012).
Head Coach Kevin Muscat was fuming following last week-s loss and said everyone at Victory would be on notice as the club tried to arrest their sudden dip in form.
"From here on in we've got to get back to AAMI Park and Gosch's Paddock and find out who really wants to play, and who wants to represent this football club," he said.
"It's a proud football club and from my perspective it's nowhere near good enough in our desire and our application to win a football game. We can talk about systems and structures, you can talk about anything you like in relation to that. But if you don't have the desire and the belief to go out and play football and work hard, everything else is irrelevant."
A win for the Glory could see them jump from seventh to fourth on the A-League ladder and compound the pressure on Muscat-s side, but the Glory will have to bounce back themselves after coming off a tough 3-1 loss to a well-drilled Western Sydney side last week.
Perth Glory Interim Head Coach Kenny Lowe said it was a disappointing first half from the team but the Wanderers deserved full credit for their impressive performance.
“We were disappointing in the first half and the players knew it too. I think we were a lot better in the second half after coming out with a little more desire and want. We were back in the game after the goal from Shane (Smeltz) but then there was the penalty that changed things,” Lowe said.
“After the game I was speaking to Tony Popovic and he said that is the best they have played in two years. Sometimes you just have to clap your hands and give someone else credit for playing well. They were good for the day and we were not.”
However, there were numerous positives to come out of the Australia Day clash with Smeltz playing 90 minutes and scoring a well-taken goal, William Gallas starting his second consecutive game for the club and Nebojsa Marinkovic making an eye-catching debut off the bench.
Gallas said he was happy to get through 80 minutes against the Wanderers and was hoping to play his first full match of the season against the Victory, while also paying tribute to Smeltz- goal-scoring abilities.
“I played almost 80 minutes on Sunday so it was good. So slowly, slowly I-m starting to get fitter and for the next game I will be ready to play 90 minutes,” Gallas said from training during the week.
“He (Smeltz) is very important for us. He likes to score goals so we have to assist him. I know he has been working very hard because he was injured. So at training, I think the players are trying to know him better, to know his movements because that is very important for the combination between the midfield and the striker,” he added.
Kenny Lowe was similarly impressed with Marinkovic-s 30 minute cameo but said the 27-year-old-s best form was still ahead of him.
“I thought he did well. He got on the ball, he passed it, he popped up in little areas. He was one of the reasons why the second half that we did a little bit better,” he said. “He started to bring the best out of Steven McGarry who started to interplay. I think there is a lot more to come, he-s still underdone but we-ll see how we go,” Lowe said.
Darvydas Sernas and Rostyn Griffiths both joined Marinkovic at the Glory during the January transfer window and are expected to help bolster the midfield with the team facing a tricky away schedule in the upcoming weeks.
Sernas is waiting for his work visa to be issued but may yet still make an appearance against the Victory if it comes through in the next 24 hours. The 29-year-old Lithuanian striker arrived in Perth one week ago and has been gradually acclimatising himself to the hot conditions. The 180cm striker has an impressive CV having scored five goals in 35 games for his country (including a goal against World Champions Spain) and will be out to show the Hyundai A-League his class.
Griffiths signed a two-year deal last week which will see him play for the club until the end of the 2014-15 Hyundai A-League Season, but the 25-year-old will spend another game on the sidelines as he continues to rehabilitate his way back to full fitness following minor ankle surgery after leaving Guangzhou R&F FC in the Chinese Super League.
While close to making his debut for the club against Victory, the coaching staff has already stated they will not be rushing any player into the side unless they are fully fit.
Victory has their own high-profile signing in the form of Socceroo Tom Rogic. Rogic made his first appearance for the blue half of Melbourne in last Sunday-s 5-0 mauling, after being loaned out from Celtic.
The 21-year-old Socceroo struggled for opportunities under Neil Lennon at the Hoops but looked right at home under Kevin Muscat as he constantly found space and time on the ball. He managed 45 minutes in his debut match but is expected to start against Perth.
All the stats point to an intriguing battle. Perth Glory has not conceded an A-League goal at nib Stadium in their last 270 minutes of action, but they have never kept a clean sheet at home to Melbourne Victory in the history of the Hyundai A-League.
Something has to give …
Friday, 31 January 2014 Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory nib STADIUM, Perth Kick-off: 6:45pm local (9:45pm AEDT) Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones
TV Broadcast: 9.30pm (AEDT) Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1HD.Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand).
Radio Broadcast: ABC Radio Coverage Full coverage Online/Mobile phone app .Second Half coverage 720 ABC Perth, ABC Local Radio WA, 774 ABC Melbourne, ABC Local Radio Vic, 936 ABC Hobart and ABC Northern Tasmania, Grandstand Digital. Sport FM) Perth.
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #PERvMVC To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets
Perth Glory Squad: 1.Daniel VUKOVIC (GK), 3.Brandon O-NEILL, 4. Ryan EDWARDS, 6.Cameron EDWARDS, 7. Jacob BURNS, 8. Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Jamie MACLAREN, 11. Adrian ZAHRA, 14.Steven McGARRY, 16.Sidnei SCIOLA MORAES, 17. Chris HAROLD, 18. Jack DUNCAN, 19. Josh RISDON, 20. Danny DE SILVA, 23.Michael THWAITE, 25. Riley WOODCOCK, 36. William GALLAS **Two to be omitted **
Ins: 3.Brandon O-NEILL, 4. Ryan EDWARDS, 11. Adrian ZAHRA Outs: 2.Jack CLISBY, 24.Matthew DAVIES, 15. Isaka CERNAK Unavailable: Travis DODD (knee - indefinite), Scott JAMIESON (Achilles - indefinite)
Melbourne Victory Squad: 1.Nathan COE (gk), 2.Pablo CONTRERAS, 3.Adama TRAORE, 4.Nick ANSELL, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Gui FINKLER, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.Connor PAIN, 13.Andrew NABBOUT, 14.James TROISI, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.James JEGGO, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Tom ROGIC, 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 24.Scott GALLOWAY, 25.Jason GERIA, **Two to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Pablo CONTRERAS (returns from injury), 3.Adama TRAORE (returns from suspension) 17.James JEGGO (promoted), 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS (promoted). Outs: 23.Adrian LEIJER (suspension, 1 week), 31.Dylan MURNANE Unavailable: 5.Mark MILLIGAN (knee, 2-4 weeks)
GLORY REVIEW - ROUND 16 Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Brendon SANTALAB 28-, Aaron MOOY 33-, Mark BRIDGE 70-) Perth Glory 1 (Shane SMELTZ 55-) Pirtek Stadium Sunday 26th January Attendance: 14,111 Referee: Strebre Delovski
Western Sydney Wanderers: 1.Ante COVIC (gk), 2.Shannon COLE, 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5.Michael BEAUCHAMP (c), 10.Aaron MOOY, 11.Brendon SANTALAB (7.Labinot HALITI 77-), 13.Matthew SPIRANOVIC, 17.Youssouf HERSI (12.Tahj MINNIECON 81-), 19.Mark BRIDGE, 21.Shinji ONO, 22.Dean HEFFERNAN (32. Daniel ALESSI 90-)
Subs not used: 20.Jerrad TYSON (gk), 23.Jason TRIFIRO Bookings: 2.Shannon COLE
Perth Glory: 1.Daniel VUKOVIC (GK), 6.Cameron EDWARDS (8.Nebojsa MARINKOVIC 59-), 7.Jacob BURNS, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 14.Steven McGARRY, 16.Sidnei SCIOLA MORAES (10.Jamie MACLAREN 65-), 17.Chris HAROLD, 19.Josh RISDON, 23.Michael THWAITE, 25.Riley WOODCOCK, 36.William GALLAS (2.Jack CLISBY 77-)
Subs not used: 18.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 24.Matthew DAVIES Bookings: 16.Sidnei SCIOLA MORAES 22-, 19.Josh RISDON 46-, 9.Shane SMELTZ 90+-