Stats preview: Why Phoenix have a mountain to climb in crucial top-six clash with City

They are safely ensconced inside the Hyundai A-League’s top six and have lost just once in their last 10 games, but there’s a reason why Wellington Phoenix should be a little wary ahead of their home clash with Melbourne City on Saturday.

Wellington hasn’t enjoyed recent meetings against Warren Joyce’s men, losing seven of the last eight clashes between the two clubs.

And City have won three of the last four at Westpac Stadium, although the last clash in Wellington saw Phoenix prevail.

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PREVIEW: Phoenix v City

If the home side is to taste success again, they may need to put the shackles on City midfielder Kearyn Baccus.

The ex-Wanderer has been one of the best passers of the ball this season and needs to make just 42 more to become the first player to attempt 1000 passes in the 2018/19 Season.

Wellington will be desperate to make a fast-start in this one, having failed to score a goal in the first half in each of their last two matches on home soil.

Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne City
Saturday 5.35pm (AEDT)

Raining goals in Brisbane?

Everything suggests there should be plenty of goals between Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

In their last three games at home, Roar have conceded a staggering 13 goals, with eight of those coming in the second half.

But the Wanderers have also had their defensive issues, failing to keep their opposition to a single goal or fewer in their six games so far in 2019.

PREVIEW: Roar v Wanderers

Wanderers midfielder Roly Bonevacia is in excellent scoring form, finding the net in each of his last three Hyundai A-League games.

But Roar is the only team which the Dutchman has never scored against, excluding the two clubs he’s played for.

And it won’t be easy to beat Roar gloveman Jamie Young, who has made more saves (55) than any other keeper in the competition this campaign.

Brisbane Roar v Western Sydney Wanderers
Friday 7.50pm (AEDT)

Sky Blues rising to Australia Day challenge

The traditional Australia Day Big Blue is one of the highlights on the Hyundai A-League calendar and it’s one Sydney FC have enjoyed of late.

The Sky Blues have won three of the last four games played on January 26, including the last two against their fierce Melbourne rivals.

But Victory have won the last two between the two clubs, both of those coming on the road including earlier this season at Jubilee Stadium.

PREVIEW: The Big Blue between Victory and Sydney FC

Milos Ninkovic looms as the key man for the visitors, with the silky Serbian creating eight scoring chances – including two assists – in his last five games at AAMI Park.

The Sky Blues have also made a habit of making strong starts in the second half, scoring seven goals in the 15 minutes immediately after the break, more than any team in the league.

But they might find it harder getting past Victory gloveman Lawrence Thomas, whose 75% save percentage is the highest of any keeper in the competition.

Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC
Saturday 7.50pm (AEDT)

Game of two halves for Adelaide United

Reds boss Marco Kurz will look for a 90-minute performance from his side against the Mariners on Sunday.

While Adelaide has conceded just two first-half goals in their last 11 games at Coopers Stadium, they have shipped 11 after the break in those games.

The Reds are unbeaten in their last five games against the Mariners, although the Gosford club have scored exactly two goals in three of their last four visits to the City of Churches.

PREVIEW: Reds v Mariners

Don’t expect to see the assistant referees flag raised too many times in this one either.

The Mariners (21) and Adelaide (24) have been caught offside fewer than any other teams in the competition this campaign.

Adelaide United v Central Coast Mariners
Sunday 6pm (AEDT)

Can Jets repeat win in the west?

Newcastle’s horror record against Glory has been well publicised.

Incredibly, the Hunter club have managed just two wins in the last 21 meetings with Perth Glory.

But the last time the two clubs played at HBF Park it was the Jets who came out on top, a 2-1 win in Round 10 last season.

Glory have been held to scoreless draws in their last two Hyundai A-League games: the last time the side were involved in three 0-0 draws in a row came way back in 2010.

PREVIEW: Glory v Jets

Newcastle’s centre-backs Nigel Boogaard and Nikolai Topor-Stanley will be intent on shutting Glory out again.

The Jets duo are two of just four players in the Hyundai A-League to have made 80-or-more clearances this season.

It will be interesting to see if Glory skipper Diego Castro starts or comes off the bench in this one.

The Spaniard (two) is the only player to have scored more than one goal when starting from the bench this season.

Perth Glory v Newcastle Jets
Sunday 8pm (AEDT)