Wellington Phoenix meet Western Sydney Wanderers in Round 8 of the 2013-14 A-League season at Westpac Stadium on Sunday December 1 at 3pm AEDT
Fenton, Sigmund, Durante, Muscat
Hicks, Hernandez, Brockie/Cunningham
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS
Polenz, Spiranovic, Topor-Stanley, D'Apuzzo
Poljak, La Rocca, MooyBridge, Santalab, Cole
Played: 4, Wins: Phoenix 1, Wanderers 2, Draws: 1
Wanderers 1-1 Phoenix, October 20 2013
Past five matches:
Western Sydney will be hoping to return to winning ways while Wellington are searching for their first win of the season on Sunday. The Phoenix impressed in the 1-1 draw between the teams earlier in the campaign but have struggled to build on that performance. The Wanderers rarely lose two matches in a row and will be hurting from their defeat at the hands of Brisbane last time out. That result saw Tony Popovic's men relinquish top spot and the Wanderers will be eager to claim three points in New Zealand.
The big issue:
Phoenix – claiming the win some of their performances have deserved this season. Playing well is great, but Ernie Merrick's men need to start collecting points for their efforts. Still winless, the Phoenix have just three points in six matches this season, a tally they desperately need to build on, starting with the Wanderers clash. Failing to take anything home from Sydney after equalising and with the Sky Blues down to 10 men for the final 17 minutes would have hurt.
Wanderers – rediscovering their best form with a more settled team. Winger Youssouf Hersi is expected to return from a foot injury, but Popovic will be demanding the consistency his side showed throughout their premiership-winning campaign last season. Marquee Shinji Ono is likely to miss the trip. Defensively they remain solid despite conceding three of their six goals against Brisbane last time out. More is needed from their attack as they look to put teams on the back foot early.
The game breaker:
Carlos Hernandez – Against Sydney the Costa Rican appeared to be nearing the form most expected from him when he joined Wellington. His ability to create could be crucial against a stubborn Western Sydney side. The midfielder is due a goal having yet to score for the Phoenix and his ability from set-pieces could help Wellington as they aim for their first win of the season.
Prediction: Phoenix 1-1 Wanderers
Wellington perhaps deserved more from their trip to Parramatta in Round 2, with Jeremy Brockie's equaliser on the hour-mark giving them a point. The Phoenix needed to take advantage of playing against a man less in Sydney last time out but failed. They return to Westpac Stadium and need to capitalise. Popovic's men will be hurting and have always been hard to beat, meaning only a very good performance by the Phoenix will stop them from collecting three points.