Western Sydney Wanderers and Adelaide will meet in Round 4 of the 2013-14 A-League season at Pirtek Stadium on Friday, November 1 at 7.30pm AEDT.
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS
Polenz, T-Stanley, Beauchamp, D'Apuzzo
Poljak, La Rocca, OnoHaliti, Juric, Bridge
Elrich, McKain, Boogaard, Zullo
Isaias, Malik/Carrusca, LusticaFerreira, McGrath/Jeronimo, Cirio
Played: 3 Wins: Wanderers 2, Adelaide 1
Adelaide 2-4 Wanderers, February 3, 2013
Past five matches (including pre-season):
If the brief history between the two clubs is anything to go by then there should be a few goals in this one ... and most of those to the Wanderers. Tony Popovic's side hit six and four past the Reds in their last two matches last season, including a 6-1 drubbing at Wanderland. The home side head into this one full of confidence after a comprehensive 2-0 win in the Sydney derby last weekend and should be boosted by the return of classy midfielder Aaron Mooy (concussion). Winger Youssouf Hersi is out due to a foot injury, with the likes of Labinot Haliti or Shannon Cole are likely to slot in on the right wing. Adelaide have shown encouraging signs over the first three weeks but dished up their worst performance so far in going down 1-0 to champions Central Coast last weekend. The Reds are sweating over the fitness of leading scorer Jeronimo, who missed the loss to the Mariners, and playmaker Marcelo Carrusca (groin). The pair have trained strongly this week and could make the trip to Sydney. Defender Cassio (quad), Bruce Djite (ankle) and Daniel Bowles (ankle) are others under injury clouds and are expected to miss the match.
The big issue:
Wanderers – Keeping his entire squad happy. Popovic was able to do this to great effect last season but it's an even bigger challenge this time around. The Wanderers squad has even greater depth that their debut campaign meaning some of their stars can't even crack it for a spot on the bench. The likes of Labinot Haliti, Shannon Cole and Jason Trifiro played consistent minutes last season but have hardly been sighted, while Socceroos defender Matthew Spiranovic will be ready for action soon also. Popovic will need to ensure he pulls the right rein to keep all his squad on their toes and content.
Adelaide – Stopping Shinji Ono. The Japanese star was the difference in the derby win, setting up Iacopo La Rocca's opener before scoring himself with a sublime piece of individual skill. Ono is getting fitter and stronger with every appearance and if he improves on his showing against Sydney then the Reds are in strife. The likes of Jon McKain, Nigel Boogaard and Osama Malik will need to keep a close watch on the 34-year-old playmaker or it could be another tough night for the Adelaide defence.
The game breaker:
Mark Bridge – The Wanderers' leading goal getter from their debut campaign has yet to get off the mark this season but enjoys playing against the Reds. Bridge has scored four times in his last two matches against Adelaide, including a hat-trick in their only previous meeting at Wanderland. It won't sit well with the 27-year-old that he has yet to score this season so expect him to test out Eugene Galekovic in goal whenever he gets an opportunity.
Prediction: Wanderers 2-0 Adelaide
The Wanderers have yet to taste defeat this season and there were signs last week that suggest they are about to hit their straps. Even given the fact the Sky Blues were terrible and without their main-man Alessandro Del Piero, Popovic's troops were brilliant in every department. Ono looks like being an even bigger hit than last season, while it's only a matter of time until Tomi Juric starts hitting the back of the net regularly. After a great performance in round 1, Adelaide have found the going tough the last fortnight, with coach Josep Gombau pleading for time for his style to take shape. Unfortunately they won't get that time on Friday night.