Western Sydney Wanderers will be looking to climb to the top of the A-League when they travel to the Kayo Stadium to face Brisbane Roar on Friday.
While the hosts have picked up six points from five home games so far this season, the visitors have accumulated seven points from their four matches on the road.
Brisbane Roar extended their unbeaten run to five matches when they secured a slender 1-0 away victory against Newcastle Jets last Friday.
After a goalless first half, Nikola Mileusnic broke the deadlock in the 80th minute, poking home a close-range finish after seeing an overhead kick initially saved inside the six-yard box.
Warren Moon’s side have only won two of their opening seven A-League matches so far this term, but their unbeaten streak has seen them climb up to seventh in the table, just four points behind their upcoming opponents Western Sydney Wanderers in second place.
Indeed, Brisbane Roar will be confident of closing that gap on Friday as they have won two and drawn two of their last four encounters against the Wanderers, including a 3-0 home league win in January and a 3-1 away victory in the Australia Cup in May.
While Brisbane Roar have made themselves hard to beat in recent weeks, Western Sydney Wanderers have won only one of their last five matches across all competitions and have subsequently ceded their place at the top of the A-League standings.
After suffering a heavy 5-1 friendly defeat against Everton, the Wanderers have since picked up only one point from their last two league games, with a 1-1 draw away against Wellington Phoenix followed by a 1-0 loss against Western United last weekend.
A fifth-minute strike from Aleksandar Prijovic was enough to condemn Mark Rudan’s side to their second league defeat of the campaign, and they now sit two points behind Melbourne City at the summit.
Goals have been hard to come by for Western Sydney Wanderers so far this season, as they have only found the net seven times in eight A-League matches; only Friday’s opponents Brisbane and basement club Perth Glory have scored fewer (six).
Breaching Brisbane’s backline could prove challenging for the Wanderers on Friday, as the Roar currently boast the best defensive record in the league, conceding only five times in seven matches.
Brisbane Roar confirmed last week that striker Charlie Austin has mutually terminated his contract with the club due to family-related reasons, while midfielder Jesse Daley has left the club to join Canadian Premier League side Cavalry FC.
Austin started up front in the last match against Newcastle Jets, so he is set to be replaced in the first XI by Joe Knowles, while Jay O’Shea and Kai Trewin are expected to continue their partnership in centre-midfield.
Moon will likely stick with the same back four that started last week, with Jack Hingert, Scott Neville, Tom Aldred and Jordan Courtney-Perkins all protecting goalkeeper Jordan Holmes between the sticks.
As for Western Sydney Wanderers, Milos Ninkovic and Kusini Yengi both missed the defeat against Western United due to injury and the two attackers remains doubtful for Friday’s match.
Rudan is unlikely to make too many changes, if any, to his starting lineup, with Romain Amalfitano again set to provide support in attack for Sulejman Krpic.
Brazilian defender Marcelo – not to be mistaken for the former Real Madrid left-back – is expected to continue as captain in the heart of the defence alongside Tomislav Mrcela.
Brisbane Roar possible starting lineup:
Holmes; Hingert, Neville, Aldred, Courtney-Perkins; O’Shea, Trewin; Mileusnic, Danzaki, Armiento; Knowles
Western Sydney Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Thomas; Cleur, Mrcela, Marcelo, Traore; Borello, Bozanic, Nieuwenhof, Ngabkoto; Amalfitano; Krpic