Melbourne City and Perth Glory will both be eager to arrest mini form slides when they go head to head at AAMI Park on Friday night.
After a scintillating start to the season, City’s form has slipped in the past fortnight, losing to Sydney FC a fortnight ago and then-bottom placed Brisbane Roar in an erroneous affair.
Built on defensive discipline, Warren Joyce’s men coughed up three goals direct from errors, leaving them with work to do on the training ground. Joyce however was quick to deny there was a crisis.
Results have been just one of City’s recent concerns, also made to navigate speculation Tim Cahill wants out.
Meanwhile, the situation has hardly been better for Perth Glory, who have been decimated by injuries to key men.
Adam Taggart has now missed two weeks and Diego Castro one, and those tallies looks set to increase on the weekend.
It was clear they missed both men, unable to truly threaten Melbourne Victory last Sunday as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat, hardly the right tonic after a 5-2 hammering.
Key Battle – Bart Schenkeveld vs Andy Keogh
Glory are down on numbers up front, so even more responsibility than normal will be on captain Keogh.
Perth was second-best against Victory last week and as a result, the Irishman regularly found himself isolated and feeding off scraps.
He worked tirelessly as usual and came into the game amid a late assault on Lawrence Thomas’ goal, but ultimately Keogh and Perth’s efforts were fruitless.
Unable to breach Rhys Williams and Tom Deng at home, the task will be that little bit harder when Keogh lines up against Schenkeveld.
The Dutchman has announced himself as arguably the league’s best defender, a physical presence that can see the game and distribute with quality.
Blanketing Keogh early could see him again reduced to little more than a spectator, and that is bad news for Perth.
Iacopo La Rocca could be in the gun at selection after his horror show against Brisbane. Luke Brattan gave a good account of himself off the bench and could force the Italian out. Cahill as well as Ross McCormack, whose own name has been at the centre of controversy this week, return to City’s extended matchday squad. Marcelo Carrusca is still unavailable with a calf complaint.
Melbourne City Expected XI (4-2-2-2): Galekovic (GK); Muscat, Schenekeveld, Jakobsen, Jamieson; Malik, Brattan; Fitzgerald, Kamau; McCormack, Mauk.
Perth are ravaged by injuries and will be missing no less than seven players. Callum Timms has been added to an extended travelling squad. There is not much room for Kenny Lowe to move so far as changes are concerned, but Mitch Mallia did his chances of a starting XI recall no harm with a bright cameo off the bench.
Perth Glory Expected XI (4-4-2): Reddy (GK): Walker, Grant, Lowry, Mills; Harold, Mallia, Wilson, Torres; Keogh, Nichols.
Perth dominate this fixture with 11 wins to Melbourne City’s six. There have been an additional seven draws.
Glory knocked City out of the A-League finals last season with a 2-0 win at AAMI Park. Diego Castro got the ball rolling before Joel Chianese doubled Perth’s money against their more fancied opponents.
These teams have developed a habit of producing thrillers, not least last season. Across the four games played, including their elimination final, a whopping 22 goals were scored over one draw and three Glory wins. Perth kept the only clean sheet in that final, in which City were hugely disappointing. Given the form of the teams and Joyce’s attention to detail at the back, another goalfest is the last thing punters should expect.
Melbourne City 2 Perth Glory 0