Adelaide United are the first team to face Perth Glory at HBF Park since Round 1, the last time any side managed to do so.
Border regulations have prevented Perth from playing its matches at home but a relaxing of the restrictions by the Western Australian government has meant teams can now travel across the Nullarbor.
The previous encounter on the opening round of the campaign yielded a 1-1 stalemate after Kusini Yengi’s opener was cancelled out by a first-half cracker from Bruno Fornaroli.
That result means United has still not collected three points from HBF Park since January 2018.
A thrilling finish lifted Adelaide to a 2-1 win over Central Coast Mariners last weekend, while the Glory fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 against Melbourne City.
Isaías and Michael Jakobsen return to the travelling squad, while Nathan Konstandopoulos is also called-up for the first time this season after successfully recovering from a serious knee injury. Bernardo and Joe Caletti also make the trip.
Nick Ansell, Kusini Yengi and James Delianov remain long-term absentees with respective injuries.
Meanwhile Carl Veart has announced Craig Goodwin will be the Club’s new Captain for the remainder of the Isuzu UTE A-League 2021/22 season following the departure of Stefan Mauk to Japan. Ryan Kitto and Isaías will serve as Goodwin’s new vice-captains.
What the experts say:
Ben Homer: Perth are back at home for the first time since the opening round which is exciting, and once again it’s Adelaide United who make the trip west!
Adelaide have been an intriguing study this season, very inconsistent, but a team with plenty of fight and resilience and they certainly know how to grab a late goal. Having grabbed a whopping 11 out of their 23 goals in the final 15 minutes! They like to play with the ball, and with lots of energy and flair and it’s fun to watch. But, it’s consistency which needs to improve for Adelaide with two wins, two losses and a draw from their last 5.
Perth on the other hand have struggled, lately despite that 2-all draw with Melbourne City on Wednesday (who themselves haven’t quite hit their straps this year). They have won just 1 of their last 6 matches which is a worry, and goal-scoring has been a problem, scoring the fewest (11) in the ALM this season. Under Rich Garcia they enjoy soaking up the pressure and waiting to hit on the counter. I hope now they are at home, Garcia gives them a greater licence to push forward and try and grab some goals in front of their home fans.
Niav Owens: The 1-all draw between these sides back in round one in Perth, must feel like a lifetime ago for the players! After 7 weeks on the road, the Glory return home and they will be oh so happy to be running back out onto HBF Park. The Reds will need to bring the intensity from the start, to match the home side’s emotional return to the west. Points will be important here for Adelaide – other than City, they have played the equal-most games in the ALM and the pack is chasing hard.
Tarek Elrich: Perth being back home after being away for so long with the crowd behind them is going to be a big challenge for the Reds. The young Reds keep delivering late in games and their never say die attitude is getting them through the season.
One to watch
Ben Homer: The obvious one here would be Nestor Irankunda, but everyone is already keeping close eyes on him after another match winner! I’m going to go for Lachlan Brook, the boy from Gawler on loan from Brentford. He seems to be finding his feet after consecutive starts. He grabbed an assist last week for Ibusuki’s goal against the Mariners, and hopefully the 21-year-old can continue to build for the Reds in his second stint at the club, and keep himself in that Olyroos frame.
Niav Owens: It was great to see Irankunda score his first A-Leagues goal at home last weekend! The super sub role remains crucial for the Reds, as they continue to build on their comeback kings title this season. Up against a Glory side that is pretty battered and bruised after a big run of travel and games, that energy injection late might prove crucial once again for Adelaide.
Tarek Elrich: Zach Clough has big shoes to fill with the departure of Stefan Mauk. He hasn’t really impressed at the moment, but with the number 10 role up for grabs I’d like for him to make it his own.
Ben Homer: Lachman v Ibusuki.
Daryl Lachman has been a massive part of Perth’s miserly defence this season which has been one of the best in the league. He’s coming up against the towering 195cm Hiroshi Ibusuki who has been a constant menace for opposing teams, not just with his goal-scoring threat but his hold-up play and distribution.
Niav Owens: Bruno Fornaroli scored again midweek and with no Sturridge and likely no Keogh in this game, Fornaroli remains absolutely key for Perth in attack. It will be up to the likes of Tratt & potentially Jakobsen to limit his time and space with the ball.
Tarek Elrich: Fornaroli battle vs the Adelaide centre-backs is always enjoyable. Keeping him out of the games will mean the Reds will have a good chance to get a result.
One change you’d like to see
Ben Homer: I’ve touched on it before, I’d love to see Perth come out of their shell and take the game to Adelaide in just their second game in Perth this season. If they do, it will be special to watch the likes of Fornaroli, Sardinaro and Fitzgerald do their thing. That will in turn mean there is more space for Adelaide, and the likes of Goodwin/Brook/Ibusuki to show us their attacking flair which will make for an intriguing contest.
Niav Owens: These two sides have conceded the opening goal, more often than any other teams in the ALM this season! I’d love to see the Reds open the game with the intensity they so often manage to conjure after the 80 minute mark.
Tarek Elrich: I’d like to see a full 90 minute performance from the Reds. The way they look dangerous after the 80th minute mark, I would like to see more of that.
Last five meetings
2-1 loss (A)
3-2 win (H)
2-0 win (H)
2-1 loss (A)
1-3 win (A)
Ben Homer: As every match in the A-League, this is a tough one to call. Perth will be buoyed by being back at home, but I feel this match-up which will suit the Reds, especially if Glory open up a bit more. I’m going to predict an entertaining 2-all draw!
Niav Owens: If Adelaide can withstand the early onslaught from Perth and manage to score first, I think they’ll go on to win the game. But Perth’s recent record at home is formidable and they will be well up for this one, after more than 40 days on the road. Adelaide 2-1.
Tarek Elrich: 2-1 to Adelaide to upset the Perth faithful with a winner late in the game.
Sunday, 6 March vs Perth Glory
Isuzu UTE A-League 2021/22 – Matchweek 17
Kick-off 6.35pm ACDT
Venue: HBF Park.