Talk about a tasty way to get back into the Hyundai A-League swing of things. It's the leaders Perth Glory at home to a fellow title challenger, with Melbourne Victory likely to still be smarting from their loss at home to Kenny Lowe's men earlier this month. Brace yourself for a cracker.
Sunday, 25 January 2015
Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory
nib Stadium, Perth
Kick-Off: 5:00 PM (Local) (8:00 PM AEDT)
Perth Glory squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 3.Brandon O'NEIL, 5.Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 8.Ruben ZADKOVICH, 9.Andy KEOGH, 10.Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 11.Richard GARCIA, 14.Chris HAROLD, 15.Jamie MACLAREN, 16.Sidnei SCIOLA, 19.Josh RISDON, 20.Daniel DE SILVA, 21.Scott JAMIESON, 22.Cameron EDWARDS, 23.Michael THWAITE (c), 27.Dragan PALJIC, 30.Jordan THURTELL (gk)
***two to be omitted***
Ins: 8.Ruben ZADKOVICH (promoted), 22.Cameron EDWARDS (promoted), 27.Dragan PALJIC (new signing), 30.Jordan THURTELL (gk) (promoted)
Outs: 2.Jack CLISBY (released), 12.Jack DUNCAN (gk) (not selected)
Unavailable: 7.Youssouf HERSI (hamstring – season) 17.Mitch NICHOLS (hamstring – 4 weeks), 13.Diogo FEREIRA (groin – 1 week)
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Nathan COE (GK), 2.Jason GERIA, 4.Nick ANSELL, 6.Leigh BROXHAM (c), 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.Connor PAIN, 13.Andrew NABBOUT, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 21.Carl VALERI, 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23.Adrian LEIJER, 24.Scott GALLOWAY
***two to be omitted***
Ins: 2.Jason GERIA, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 23.Adrian LEIJER
Outs: 18.Dylan MURNANE
Unavailable: 5.Mark MILLIGAN (international duty), 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE (injury)
TV Broadcast: Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 8.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: Full coverage Grandstand Digital Melbourne, Online/ ABC Radio Mobile phone app. Second half coverage on 720 ABC Perth, ABC Local Radio WA, 936 ABC Hobart and ABC North Tasmania.
Referee: Peter Green
Assistant Referee 1: Josh Mannella
Assistant Referee 2: Tim Mihevc
Fourth Official: Adam Fielding
Perth Glory go into this big clash spoiling for a rumble after stewing for several weeks on a home loss to Adelaide United in their final game before the break for the Asian Cup. Despite that defeat, Lowe's side are still top of the table by four points and can claim to be the early favourites for the title as the second half of the campaign begins.
Melbourne Victory are level with Wellington Phoenix in second place and remain the most likely challengers to Glory for silverware, having entered the break on the back of a hard-fought 2-1 win away to Western Sydney.
Both Lowe and Victory coach Kevin Muscat will have used the time without competitive matches to recharge and refocus their impressive squads ready to renew the assault on the premiership and championship.
If one side can claim maximum points at nib Stadium, they will send out an important message to the other contenders with just 13 rounds of the regular season remaining.
Opta Data stats
- Glory have scored in each of their last 11 matches.
- No side has conceded fewer goals away from home this season than Melbourne Victory (five, level with Sydney).
- Melbourne Victory have never failed to score in 14 visits to Perth, though they've never netted more than twice in a match there.
Route to goal
Without Youssouf Hersi for the rest of the season and still missing Mitch Nichols for several weeks with a hamstring problem, Glory do have a new weapon in their arsenal for this one.
German Dragan Paljic, capable of playing at left-back but more likely to be deployed in a wide attacking role for the Western Australians, has been brought in as a direct replacement for former Wanderers Hersi.
We're yet to discover if Paljic is the touchline-hugging type or someone, like Hersi, who cuts in and shoots, but whatever tricks the former Hoffenheim and Kaiserslautern man has in his locker, there's a number of willing accomplices up top ready to help him put the ball in the back of the net.
Andy Keogh is arguably the most dangerous centre-forward in the league this season, while Chris Harold, Jamie Maclaren and Richard Garcia have all proven their value to Glory during their impressive first half of 2014-15.
In addition to Paljic, Brazilian forward Sidnei will be looking to remind Lowe and the Perth supporters of his potential impact after returning to fitness shortly before the Asian Cup break.
It will be business as usual for Victory in attack, with Guilherme Finkler pulling the strings behind Besart Berisha, while you can expect Kosta Barbarouses and Fahid Ben Khalfallah to do some damage on the wings. The likes of Connor Pain and Archie Thompson are excellent options for Muscat to call on from the bench.
Who's been in the spotlight this week?
Victory's French defender Matthieu Delpierre is still out with the foot injury that has now kept him sidelined since October.
Forced off in his team's Westfield FFA Cup quarter-final extra-time loss away to Glory on October 29 with an unrelated muscular concern, the experienced centre-back has managed just three league appearances since joining the Big V and is threatening to prove an even less productive recruit than last season's underwhelming international marquee Pablo Contreras, who at least came good and featured regularly in the second half of 2013-14.
Time is running out for Delpierre to recover and contribute meaningfully.
Prior to their 2-1 loss at home to Adelaide on January 5, Glory had gone unbeaten in 10 A-League games, winning eight and drawing two, including a 2-1 win over Victory in Geelong on January 2.
Victory meanwhile responded to that home loss by downing the Wanderers in Parramatta. The defeat to Perth was just their second of the season, having given up their unbeaten record in the derby against Melbourne City on December 20.
Did you know?
Both Glory and Victory have scored a league-high five goals from outside the box this season.
However, Victory are the only side yet to concede from outside the box in the A-League so far this term.
Perth Glory 1-1 Melbourne Victory
We're expecting both these teams to be well-rested, well-organised and up for the fight.
There won't be any signs of the fatigue that began to affect their performances in the latter part of 2014 and early days of the new year.
But with both sides evenly matched and desperate not to make a losing start to the resumption of the campaign, perhaps there won't be a way to separate them at nib Stadium.