A-League season preview: Perth Glory

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Have the Western Australians recruited strong enough to make the jump from perennial mid-table team to title challenger?

Last season saw mixed results for the Glory as they were bundled out of the competition at the semi-final stage with a 3-0 thumping by eventual champions Sydney FC.

Kenny Lowe's side scored an extraordinary 53 goals in the regular season but also conceded 53 times - which ranked equal-worst in the league alongside Newcastle.

Have they addressed their defensive woes?

2016-17 finishing position: 5th

Coach: Kenny Lowe


INS AND OUTS


Ins: Scott Neville, Jacob Poscoliero, Joe Knowles, Mitch Nichols, Jake Brimmer, Andreu Guerao, Xavi Torres, Daniel Stynes.

Outs: Dino Djulbic, Kosta Petratos, Richard Garcia, Josh Risdon, Aryn Williams, Rhys Williams, Lucian Goian, Nebojsa Marinkovic, Mitchell Oxborrow, Jordan Thurtell, Rostyn Griffiths.


STAR PLAYER - Diego Castro


Diego Castro was fresh out of a full La Liga season at Getafe before he joined the Glory for the 2015-16 campaign, and it didn't take him long to establish his class.

In his first A-League season, Castro struck 13 times on his way to winning the Johnny Warren Medal and proved an absolute nightmare for opposition defenders to deal with.

Diego Castro Adelaide United v Perth Glory A-League 31032017

He followed that up with 12 goals last season and his quest for back-to-back competition best medals was only derailed by Sydney FC star Milos Ninkovic.

Now 35, Castro is entering into the twilight of his career, but his professionalism and approach to his game means his decline shouldn't come just yet.

Perth must take advantage of a player of Castro's ability and build a title-winning squad around the Spaniard.


BREAKOUT PLAYER - Jake Brimmer


After three years in Liverpool's academy, Jake Brimmer is ready to shine in the A-League and will be given opportunity by Kenny Lowe.

Brimmer moved to Anfield at the age of 16 after impressing as a junior at Nunawading City but was unfortunately released at the end of last season.

The Glory quickly snapped up the midfielder, who is capable of both attacking and defending, and specialises in arriving in the penalty area at the right time.

The 19-year-old, who has already featured in the FFA Cup, will be one player to keep a keen eye on.


POSITIVES


It appears the club have strengthened their midfield significantly with the signings of Xavi Torres. Andreu and Mitch Nichols.

Torres played 17 times in La Liga last season and should bring his Spanish flair to the deep lying playmaker role, while Andreu was in the engine room for Western Sydney in 2015-16 A-League grand final.

Andreu Western Sydney Wanderers A-League

Nichols is a highly-talented player, albeit inconsistent, and if he can keep his focus on football, there is no reason why he can't return to his best form.

The Glory have also managed to keep a hold of attacking guns Castro and Andy Keogh, meaning the club have one of the most potent forward lines in the competition.


NEGATIVES


Have the club's defensive issues been addressed? It doesn't appear so.

Scott Neville is a solid replacement at right full-back for the departing Josh Risdon but is Jacob Poscoliero an upgrade on Rhys Williams and Dino Djulbic?

If Kenny Lowe is planning on shipping less goals than last season, surely more defensive reinforcements will be needed.

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FINAL PREDICTION - 5TH


It looks like being the same old story for Perth - an electrifying midfield and attack but a sub-standard defence that lets them down.

Castro, Keogh and Adam Taggart should further improve as an attacking trio in their second full campaign together while Torres, Andreu and Nichols shape as quality midfield unit.

There is certainly going to be plenty of attacking football and goals in Glory games but the lack of focus on defence will mean they fall short of contending for major honours.

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