Preview: Melbourne Victory vs. Perth Glory

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Melbourne Victory vs. Perth Glory
Friday, 7:30pm
AAMI Park

Two mid-table teams that are coming off different result from the past weekend meet in a crucial match tonight. A frustrating 2-1 home loss to Newcastle Jets has the Victory needing to hit back immediately, while continuing on from a 4-2 win over Wellington last weekend is now the priority for the visitors.

The issues

Following last week’s loss to Newcastle, questions are now asked whether Victory’s 4-2-2-2 formation is getting the most of Victory’s creative talents. A tinkering of the formation will need to happen if Kevin Muscat opts for change and plays a striker, something he doesn’t appear willing to do. This may be a case of stubbornness on his part, time can only tell. But, for the moment, this side hasn’t been scoring nearly enough to be among the top sides, which is where they should be.

Despite the positive style and latest result, Ali Edwards’ side has been flying under the radar as of late, possibly due to their slow start to the season in front of goal. They have had the injuries to Shane Smeltz and a host of others to deal with for the majority of the early season, but now appear to be clicking in front of goal. Edwards has shown willingness to attack and experiment with his line-up/formations, evidence being his 3-5-2 formation against Brisbane Roar a couple weeks ago.

The ins and outs

Kevin Muscat confirmed Jason Geria will replace Rashid Mahazi, with Leigh Broxham reverting to his midfield role and Geria moving to full-back. Archie Thompson didn’t complete training on Thursday and will miss again with a hamstring injury.

Perth Glory will likely go in with the one change from last week’s win, with the loss of Sidnei Sciola to further hurt the visitors. Injuries to William Gallas, Shane Smeltz, Scott Jamieson, Travis Dodd and Josh Risdon compound the injury woes at the Glory. Jacob Burns will return from suspension, while youth player Ndumba Makeche will make his debut.

The 90 minutes

The key for Victory is defence after last week’s costly errors, how Nick Ansell isn’t getting game time is above this blogger. Muscat has opted for more of the same, backing his team’s style and his players to finish those chances. It is a young and inexperienced defence (with the exception of Michael Thwaite) lining up for the Glory, the time seems ripe for Victory to put those goals away.

A concern for Victory is the lack of differentiation in midfield, although this has changed whenever Gui Finkler gets on to the pitch. How the opposing midfields play against each other should decide this match, particularly for Glory with their youthful attack. Jacob Burns and Steve McGarry’s roles will be important, likewise for Leigh Broxham and Mark Milligan for the home side.

It appears certain to be an even and attacking contest, who can make it all count where it matters most is the only thing to look for come the end of the game.

The players to watch

Pablo Contreras: The marquee man will have the fans eyes on him as he struggles to adjust to A-League life. His mistakes have been glaring, as is the norm as a defender, and he has come in for criticism from fans as of late. He will start this match, and there’s no better time for the Chilean to stand up.

Danny de Silva: He may or may not start tonight but he got his opportunity last week after the injuries Perth have had, and he’s an exciting talent. The playmaker has shown glimpses of what he offers as a playmaker and looks in good hands under Ali Edwards.

The talk

On Thursday, Muscat was adamant in how he saw his side’s fortunes in recent weeks, “The fact is that we haven’t got the points return that maybe we deserve.” When pressed on whether playing a striker would be considered, Muscat reiterated that he believed in how his side approaches matches “I suppose if we wanted to change the way we play and change the current structure…But I’m not interested in changing the current structure”.

“Last week was disappointing, we didn’t perform to our capabilities…at this point, we’ve got an opportunity this week.”

The potential teams

Melbourne Victory: Nathan Coe (GK), Jason Geria, Adrian Leijer, Pablo Contreras, Adama Traore, Mark Milligan ©, Leigh Broxham, Mitch Nichols, Kosta Barbarouses, James Troisi, Connor Pain

Perth Glory: Danny Vukovic (GK), Matthew Davies, Jack Clisby, Michael Thwaite © Riley Woodcock, Steve McGarry, Jacob Burns, Danny de Silva, Chris Harold, Ryan Edwards, Jamie McLaren

The prediction

Perth Glory 1-1 Melbourne Victory

Katie Lambeski

Katie is Football Central's Melbourne Victory correspondent. She describes herself as a mad football fan who also likes to write about it. Follow Katie on twitter @katielambeski

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