An important chance for the Wanderers to secure three points is available to the Wanderers as Perth Glory visit this weekend in the A-League.
For the first time since round the of the A-League season the Wanderers are not in the top two on the A-League table.
Last weekend’s draw with Adelaide United wasn’t enough to stop Melbourne Victory toppling the Wanderers into third place.
The Wanderers could – and probably should – argue they put on an improved performance against United. There was cohesion in mid-field and a lot more pressure put on the opposition in possession.
United were allowed to hold possession for large swathes of the game, ending up with 65%, but the organisation of the Wanderers only allowed them a solitary shot on goal.
In contrast, despite spending less time with the ball and losing a territory count, with only 39%, the Wanderers troubled the keeper four times and snapped off 14 strikes in total.
The possession-based style of United forced the Wanderers into the style that suits them most – staying compact, moving as a unit and striking fiercely on the counter.
This turnaround in performance was first displayed by a different set of players, albeit still Wanderers ones all the same. During mid-week in the Asian Champions against Guizhou Renhe Tony Popovic put out a second string starting team and they hustled and bustled their way to a memorable 1-0 away win in China.
That performance would have been inspiring to the nominal starting outfit as well as a reminder they need to be setting a high standard for themselves every week.
Popovic has been preparing the side for this busy schedule all season, and repeatedly declared his interest in challenging in both competitions for as long as possible. The excuse that players are tired will not be good enough for him to gloss over any more sub-standard efforts.
With only four regular season matches remaining in this year’s A-League season it is imperative the Wanderers strike back for the second spot on the ladder this week.
The Glory visiting is a boon as their rivals, Victory, are playing a match away to the table toppers, Brisbane Roar.
It would be reasonable to expect Victory will struggle to win that fixture, but the Wanderers should be confident of beating Glory.
The Glory sit on the bottom of the table and have a habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Last week it was literally Melbourne Victory as recipients of a late victory against them – the winner was netted in the 91st minute.
Their defensive record is not good either, conceding eight goals in their last four fixtures, including two goals to the Wanderers in their last meeting.
Coming into the game the Wanderers will need to juggle playing minutes as they have over the last month or so. They are playing Japanese giants Kawasaki Frontale during mid-week ACL action on Wednesday night. That will mean some of the top players may take the pitch three times in eight days.
The Wanderers home side will lean on their large vocal support base to give them a boost and will likely aim to attack hard early to build a lead to defend rather than chase the game into the final minutes.
The statistics say the grand final winner will come from one of the top two regular season sides because they receive a valuable lifeline in the finals format.
For the Wanderers to really, legitimately challenge for a title again it needs to start with a win this week.