Preview: Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory
Melbourne has ascended to the top of the Hyundai A-League on the back of three home wins, but the challenge for Ernie Merrick's men is to now take that form on the road against Perth Glory this Sunday.
Preview: Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory Date: Sunday January 11 Kick-off: 6:00pm AWDT, 8:00pm AEDT Venue: Members Equity Stadium, Perth
TV and Radio: TBC
Head-to-head 11 Hyundai A-League meetings: Perth -3 wins, Melbourne - 4 wins, Draws - 4
Previous meeting Perth Glory 3, Melbourne Victory 1, Members Equity Stadium, Round 14, December 2008
Past Five Matches
Perth: Round 14: Perth Glory 3, Melbourne Victory 1, Members Equity Stadium Round 15: Wellington Phoenix 1, Perth Glory 1, Westpac Stadium Round 16: Sydney FC 1, Perth Glory 4, Sydney Football Stadium Round 17: Perth Glory 0, Adelaide United 1, Members Equity Stadium Round 18: Central Coast Mariners 1, Perth Glory 0, Bluetongue Stadium
Melbourne Round 14: Perth Glory 3, Melbourne Victory 1, Members Equity Stadium Round 16: Newcastle Jets 4, Melbourne Victory 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 17: Melbourne Victory 3, Sydney FC 2, Telstra Dome Round 18: Melbourne Victory 2, Queensland Roar 1, Telstra Dome Round 15: Melbourne Victory 1, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome
Analysis Melbourne has ascended to the top of the Hyundai A-League on the back of three home wins, but the challenge for Ernie Merrick's men is to now take that form on the road against Perth Glory this Sunday.
Victory displayed their championship qualities in the wins over Queensland and Adelaide, which came in the space of four days. The club's record against those teams currently inside the top four now stands at five wins and two draws from eight matches and on that form, you'd have to consider the 2006/07 champions as favourites to recapture the title this year.
However, this week's match looms as a very different challenge. In a rocky start to December, Melbourne lost three games on the trot to teams out of the four. Starting that run was a 3-1 loss to then last-placed Perth at Members Equity. Melbourne also lost by the same scoreline when it travelled to Perth last season. Victory has not won at the ground since September 2006.
The momentum created by that hat-trick of home victories will be quickly halted by a sub-par performance in this match. Off a shorter than usual back-up, Melbourne must undertake the long road trip and continue its late-season surge.
In Ernie Merrick's favour is that fact he has a full squad to choose from. He has chosen the same 15 that defeated Adelaide, but will be keeping his options open should any of his players show signs of fatigue.
Carlos Hernandez was the undoubted star of Tuesday's win and while the Adelaide defence ensured he worked hard for every touch of the ball, the Costa Rican is fit and firing. Nick Ward's form would also have put a New Year's smile on Merrick's face.
Perth's late-season charge has shuddered to a halt on the back of successive 1-0 losses, first to Adelaide and then to the Mariners. Mathematics is the Glory's only ally in their ambitions for the finals, but David Mitchell has learned a lot about his players in the past two months.
In comes Eugene Dadi, the man who fired two past the Victory last time these teams met, as well as Wayne Srhoj and youngster Andrija Jokic with Mitchell to trim his squad by three on match day.
Perth Glory Squad: 1.Jason PETKOVIC (gk), 2.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 4.Jamie COYNE (c), 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 7.Nick RIZZO, 9.Adrian TRINIDAD, 11.Scott BULLOCH, 13.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 14.Eugene DADI, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.James DOWNEY, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 22.Wayne SRHOJ, 25.Marc ANTHONY, 28.Andrija JUKIC, 29.Victor SIKORA, 30.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 31.Scott NEVILLE * three to be omitted
In. 14.Eugene DADI (promoted), 22.Wayne SRHOJ (return from injury), 28.Andrija JUKIC (promoted from youth team).
Unavailable. Josip MAGDIC (ankle - season), AMARAL (hamstring - season), James ROBINSON (abdomen - season), Frank JURIC (shoulder - 1 week), David TARKA (suspended - 1 week), Dino DJULBIC (ankle - 1 week), Hayden FOXE (leg - test).
Melbourne Victory Squad: 1.Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (Captain), 5.Sebastian RYALL, 7.Matthew KEMP, 8.Grant BREBNER, 9.Danny ALLSOPP, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.NEY FABIANO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 14.Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Jose Luis LOPEZ, 20.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 22.Nick WARD.
In. Nil. Out. Nil. Unavailable: Nil.