Saturday, November 2, 2013

Perth Glory vs Sydney FC

Played: 24 - Wins: Perth 5, Sydney 11, Draws: 8

Previous encounter:
Glory 2-1 Sydney FC, March 2, 2013

Past five matches:
Glory: WDLWW
Sydney FC: LLWLL

The Game:
After a solitary point from their opening two games, the mood has certainly changed at Perth over the last week or so. Not only have they signed former EPL star William Gallas for the season but their young and exciting side also broke through for a vital win. Jamie Maclaren's goal handed Alistair Edwards side a 1-0 win over Melbourne Heart and puts them into the top six for the first time this season. In another boost for the home side they could be boosted by the return of star striker Shane Smeltz, who has missed the first three games with a hip problem. If there's promising signs for the Glory it's been the complete opposite for the Sky Blues. Not only have they looked ordinary in back-to-back losses but they were also dealt a blow with Rhyan Grant ruled out for the season, with the youngster requiring a full knee reconstruction. Frank Farina's main mission this week will be re-discovering some team morale and confidence after a forgettable fortnight. Most of the focus will centre around whether skipper Alessandro Del Piero boards the plane, with the Italian veteran still battling a calf problem. Pedj Bojic, Brett Emerton and Terry McFlynn could also return after missing the derby last weekend.

The big issue:
Glory – Perth still need to find a way to find the back of the net regularly while Smeltz is not 100 percent fit. They created a host of opportunities against the Heart but only managed to one goal through Maclaren. In the likes of Ryo Nagai, Sidnei Sciola and Steven McGarry they have the players to unlock defences but unless they can discover a cutting edge in front of goal, consistent result could be hard to come by for Edwards' side.

Sydney – Cut out their defensive lapses. Farina labelled the loss to the Wanderers as undisciplined and error-prone. The Sky Blues boss was referring mainly to his defence, which has looked shaky in leaking six goals in the last two matches. Unless they can find a way to stop gifting their opponents soft goals, Sydney's poor start to the campaign will only get worse.

The game breaker:
Sidnei Sciola – Unlike his opponents of the same name this weekend, Sidney has been in superb form over the first three weeks of the season. While Edwards' focus in assembling his squad has revolved around youth, the Brazilian adds that touch of class and creativity needed in every team. Sidney has shown a great ability to take on and beat his marker and was unlucky not to have provided the final pass on a host of occasions against the Heart. With the Sky Blues' defence in all sorts so far this season, the glory should look to get the ball to the 27-year-old playmaker as often as they can.

Prediction:Glory 3-1 Sydney
While the Glory head into this clash full of confidence and in better form, they have traditionally struggled against the Sky Blues. Perth have only beaten Sydney five times in the first eight seasons of the A-League, which stretches 24 matches. Edwards and his players have set a goal of making nib Stadium a fortress this season and after a first-up win last weekend they should have little trouble adding to it. If Del Piero plays then the Sky Blues have some hope but even the presence of the Italian veteran may not be enough to half Sydney's losing run.

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