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Phoenix a breath of fresh air: Popovic

The Wellington Phoenix are one of the form teams in the A-League, but Perth Glory are the hottest of them all.

Phoenix a breath of fresh air: Popovic

The Wellington Phoenix are one of the form teams in the A-League, but Perth Glory are the hottest of them all.

Wanderers coach TONY POPOVIC looks on during the A-League Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Roar and the Western Sydney Wanderers at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia.
Wanderers coach TONY POPOVIC looks on during the A-League Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Roar and the Western Sydney Wanderers at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia. Picture:Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic says Wellington's resurgence has been a breath of fresh air for the A-League, but he's backing his side to come up trumps in Saturday night's clash.

The Phoenix have lost just once in the past 11 rounds, posting six wins and four draws across that period to move into sixth spot on the ladder.


Their hot run has boosted their chances of ending a three-year finals drought, with the Phoenix a whopping 11 points clear of seventh-placed Newcastle.

And they are just one point adrift of fourth-placed Melbourne City.

However, Wellington's trip to Perth will put their title credentials to the test.

Glory sit on top of the ladder with just one loss to their name from the first 16 rounds.

The return of Chris Ikonomidis from international duties will add further firepower to Perth's talent-laden squad.

Wellington will be boosted by the return of striker Nathan Burns and the arrival of new signing Antony Golec, but Andrew Durante is out through suspension.

Popovic knows the clash with Wellington won't be a walk in the park, and he sees it as a good test for his side.

"They've been great. I think a breath of fresh air for the league, probably like ourselves as well," Popovic said.

"They keep getting results and playing good football. They are where they deserve to be, doing very well and I'm sure they'll come here with confidence."

Popovic made an astonishing 25 changes to his starting line-up over the past five games.

But with the hectic January period now over, Popovic is likely to stick to a more settled line-up.

That means competition for starting berths will intensify, and that spells good news for Popovic.

"When you have 23 players fighting for their spots, you soon find that the XI that are chosen are at an even higher level, because competition is high and the standard of training is high," Popovic said.

STATS THAT MATTER

*Perth Glory have won their past three A-League games on the bounce against Wellington Phoenix at HBF Park, conceding just one goal in that time.

*Perth Glory have kept a clean sheet in each of their past three A-League games. They have never previously gone longer without conceding a goal.

*Wellington Phoenix are undefeated in their past five A-League games away from home (W2, D3). They have never previously gone more than five games on the road without recording a loss in the league.

AAP


AAP




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