Glory will be looking to extend its unbeaten run to four games when it takes on Western Sydney this Saturday at nib Stadium.
Perth’s hard fought come from behind draw against Brisbane on Saturday night meant its Round 21 opponents, the Wanderers, closed the gap between the two sides to just four points, making this week’s match-up a crucial clash for Kenny Lowe and Tony Popovich’s men.
Western Sydney’s dramatic and controversial win over Sydney FC in the derby ended the league leaders impressive run of 19 games unbeaten in the Hyundai A-League. Brendon Santalab’s 26th-minute strike was enough to gain maximum points in a typically fiery encounter.
As was the case in Round 20, Glory will be going into this weekend’s encounter knowing it’s another pivotal match in the context of the finals and will be hoping Socceroos striker Adam Taggart continues his prolific form in front of goal (10 goals from 12 starts).
Key Battle: Dino Djulbic v Brendon Santalab
Dino’s industrious performance against a lively Roar forward line and Santalab’s emotion-charged winner saw the pair book a spot in the Team of the Week. With our veteran “Panel Beater” discovering some great form over the last month, and Santalab returning the starting XI, this match-up could prove to be a great battle between the two 34-year-olds.
Star: Adam Taggart
Tha man is simply on fire. Taggart’s quality and knack for a goal has always been well documented, but the 23-year-old has overcome injuries to once again be one of the most lethal marksmen in the A-League. His composed equaliser against Brisbane following on from Castro’s moment of genius and Harold’s perfect cutback, was the Perth local’s 10th major of the season from just 12 starts, as the number 22 now sits equal fourth in the Golden Boot standings.
One To Watch: Joe Mills
Our English full-back was simply outstanding against Brisbane. The former Southampton defender’s tireless attacking runs and sound defensive work draw unwavering praise from fans, with many saying it was his best performance in a Glory shirt. Mills will be looking to continue this fine form into Saturday’s match against Western Sydney, where he’ll have to be wary of Japanese dynamo Jumpei Kusukami.
Last Time We Met: January 1st, Round 13, ANZ Stadium: Western Sydney Wanderers 1-1 Perth Glory
The two teams are yet to be separated in their two previous encounters this season, with the spoils shared 1-1 back on New Years Day at ANZ Stadium. Taggart’s clinical 14th-minute goal was cancelled out in the second half by substitute Jaushua Sotirio in the Round 13 clash in a wet and windy clash.
Both games between Glory and the Wanderers have been keenly fought and entertaining affairs with an average of three goals, so this weekend’s crunch tie is sure to be another intriguing spectacle at nib Stadium.
Round 21, Saturday, 25th February, Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers
Venue: nib Stadium
Time: 7PM (AWST)
Broadcast: FOX SPORTS 4