Western Sydney Wanderers and the Wellington Phoenix will meet in Round 2 at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday October 20 at 5:00pm AEDT.
Western Sydney Wanderers and the Wellington Phoenix will meet in Round 2 of the 2013-14 Hyundai A-League season at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday October 20 at 5:00pm AEDT.
Head-to-head: Played: 3, Wins: Wanderers 2, Phoenix 1.
Previous encounter: Wanderers 2-1 Phoenix, March 10 2013
Past five matches: Wanderers: LDLWD Phoenix: DWWWL
The Game: Neither side could manage a winning start to the 2013-14 campaign in Round 1 and will be looking to rectify that fact at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Last season's premiers snatched a 1-1 draw with reigning Champions Central Coast on the back of an 87th-minute equaliser from new recruit Tomi Juric in Gosford on Saturday. A depleted Phoenix led early against the Brisbane Roar and looked set to share the points before Ivan Franjic scored a late goal to steal a 2-1 victory for the visitors. It was a brave effort from Ernie Merrick's new-look side, while the Wanderers showed they will again be a force this season. The fact that Shinji Ono, Juric and Brendan Santalab all started on the bench shows the depth of Tony Popovic's squad while the Phoenix have Andrew Durante, Jeremy Brockie, Leo Bertos and Glen Moss back after international duties but are still without the injured Louis Fenton.
The big issue: Wanderers - second-year syndrome is often talked about in all codes and it's vital last season's Premiers make a decent start this season, especially at home. The Wanderers looked rusty in the first half in last week's grand-final rematch but started to find their rhythm and create chances in the second half. They still have the roster to challenge for both crowns this season but their ability to handle the weight of expectation will determine where they finish in 2013-14. And that starts this week in front of the rabid Red and Black Bloc at Parramatta Stadium.
Phoenix - keep the home fans as quiet as possible. The Wanderers fans are only entering their second season but they are already a formidable force and have been a big part of the fledgling club's success so far. The Phoenix led against the Roar last weekend but couldn't hold on. A fast start is imperative at Parramatta Stadium if they are to have any hope of pulling off the upset.
The game breaker: Youssouf Hersi - the livewire winger was central to the Wanderers' success last season and he started with a bang last weekend, setting up the equalising goal with a dangerous cross. While Popovic has built a side based on solid defence and structure, Hersi provides the X-factor and is capable of breaking any game open at any moment.