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A-League Rev-Up: Can boring Glory grind their way to the title?

02:54 WAT 25/01/2019
Perth Glory Diego Castro
Another big weekend of A-League action awaits

Two goalless draws in less than a week have cast some doubts about Perth Glory's title credentials with a visit from Newcastle Jets set to test their tactics, if not their mettle.

Elsewhere, Western Sydney Wanderers coach Markus Babbel has admitted contracts are on the line as his side look to avoid a seventh-straight defeat.

An Australian Day Big Blue will see a Swede likely take centre stage and he's a player Sydney FC must shoot down if they hope to avoid a third consecutive loss to Melbourne Victory.

It's time to rev your engines for a big weekend of A-League action...


Contracts on the line as Wanderers face Roar


After setting a club record of six straight A-League losses mid-week against Melbourne City, the Wanderers have a chance of ending that terrible run against Brisbane Roar.

Though Western Sydney's results have been worse than Brisbane's lately, the performances of the two have been stark.

While the Wanderers have squandered promising displays with late capitulations, the Roar have largely failed to impress across 90 minutes - lucky to salvage a 1-1 draw against Central Coast Mariners on the weekend after being belted 5-0 by Victory.

For Markus Babbel, now is the time for Western Sydney to turn the tide with the German coach conceding players who don't show enough quality soon won't be at the club next season. 

"(The players) have to know, okay, this is now the second year that the results are not there," Babbel said.

"And you can say ok maybe the coaches are not good enough, so the team has already now their third coach.

"Or maybe the players are not good enough. If they're not learning, the club will do something. This is definitely not going with the same thing in the next season.

"Of course the game is a result game, if we can't get results, then there are consequences there."


Sydney FC must shoot down Ola Toivonen


He scored the opener in the first Big Blue of the season and Ola Toivonen looms as an even more influential figure this time around. 

Since bagging what was his first A-League goal, the Swede has now struck nine times and added a further three assists from just 12 appearances. 

With Keisuke Honda out injured, Toivonen has stepped up and is proving to be a crucial catalyst for Victory's attack as he gets the most out of strike partner Kosta Barbarouses.

After doing well to suffocate Wellington Phoenix's attack mid-week, Sydney FC must now target Toivonen if they hope to avoid a third straight Big Blue defeat. 

Veteran defender Alex Wilkinson looms as the man to silence Toivonen and is just two centimetres shorter than the striker. 

If the Sky Blues can stop supply to the Swede, they'll have a real chance of at least holding Victory to a draw and in turn ensuring they stay second. 


Can boring Glory grind their way to the title? 


Without a goal in their past two games, Perth Glory have stumbled somewhat during crucial period of the A-League title race. 

While clean sheets against Melbourne City and Adelaide United during that time might bring a smile to Tony Popovic's face, the club's fans can't be blamed for questioning whether their side can claim silverware this season playing what's become a predictable and at times boring brand of football. 

Glory managed just five shots on target across their last two matches - games that struggled to demand the attention of even the most dedicated fans. 

Popovic has always valued substance over style and Perth have shown little of the latter in recent weeks.

Without live wire Chris Ikonomidis, Glory have struggled to fire up front, while constant changes to the starting side haven't helped them find cohesion in the middle of the park.

Now built upon a strong defence rather than deadly attack, Perth can afford to misfire but must take the initiative back before it's too late this season with Sydney FC and Victory breathing down their necks.

A match against an attack-minded Jets on Sunday will likely see Glory's commitment to substance over style once again rear its head and Ernie Merrick will be desperate to remind Popovic that attack can be the best form of defence.