Isuzu UTE A-League RD21 Preview: One good omen presents as Wanderers look to snap horror run

Preview all the weekend's action ahead of Round 21 in the Isuzu UTE A-League

Round 21 of the Isuzu UTE A-League season kicks off this Thursday night! Ahead of the action, previews all five of the contests.

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Saturday, 7.45pm AEDT: Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers

All eyes will fixate on HBF Park on Saturday evening as Perth Glory host under-fire Western Sydney Wanderers in the final game of Round 21.

The Wanderers are reeling after three consecutive heavy defeats, culminating in Tuesday night’s disastrous 7-0 thumping at the hands of Melbourne City.

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Wanderers head coach Marko Rudan came under criticism post-game after failing to show up for his media duties. Assistant Jean-Paul de Marigny stepped in to face the press in his absence.

The resulting exchange between de Marigny and reporters came to the boil as the Wanderers assistant was repeatedly pressed to explain Rudan’s whereabouts.

The Wanderers have conceded 14 goals in three defeats heading into Round 21, but if Wanderers fans are searching for a piece of positivity before their clash with Glory, history reveals a positive omen: Western Sydney have won for of their last five league fixtures immediately after shipping five or more goals in the game prior.

Perth staged another late comeback to take a point from Newcastle Jets in Round 20 and are in the midst of a purple patch at home, going four games unbeaten at HBF Park (W2, D2). A clean sheet against Wanderers would be the club’s 100th in the Isuzu UTE A-League, but having conceded 41 goals in 20 games to date that will be no easy feat for Alen Stajcic’s side.

Super-sub David Williams will breach the 50-goal mark in the Isuzu UTE A-League should he find the back of the net against the Wanderers at HBF Park.


  • Perth Glory: 9th
  • Western Sydney: 7th


  • Perth Glory: D – W – D – L – D
  • Western Sydney: L – W – L – L – L


  • Perth Glory have won three of their last four A-League Men matches (L1) against Western Sydney Wanderers, keeping a clean sheet in two of those three victories on the day.
  • Western Sydney Wanderers have only won one of their last seven A-League Men matches (D1 L5) and have conceded 14 goals across their last three games (L3); though, the Wanderers have won four of their last five A-League Men games immediately after conceding 5+ goals in the game prior.
  • Perth Glory are unbeaten in their last four A-League Men matches at HBF Park (W2 D2), the last time they had a longer unbeaten streak at the venue was six games (W4 D2) from May to November 2021.
  • Perth Glory have trailed at half-time on 10 occasions this A-League Men season, more times than any other team, but are also the only team to have won multiple games after trailing at the break on the day (W2).

Thursday, 7.00pm AEDT: Western United v Melbourne Victory

Round 21 kicks off on Thursday night as AAMI Park hosts an all-Victorian encounter between Western United and Melbourne Victory.

Western still sit last on the Isuzu UTE A-League table but after a run of three games without defeat (2W, 1D) and with just one loss in five games, John Aloisi’s side has come into form at the right time.

A charge to the finals is unlikely but cannot be completely ruled out at this stage, with Western capable of jumping to within eight points of Melbourne City in sixth with a surprise win over third-placed Victory on Thursday.

Tony Popovic’s Victory broke a two-game losing run with an Original Rivalry triumph over Adelaide United in Round 20; Bruno Fornaroli roared back into form with a brace, going back to the top of the Golden Boot leaderboard and the Socceroos striker will hope to stay there and continue his scoring form against Western.

But Aloisi will be hoping his side’s improved showing in defence will continue after using the club’s first-choice back four together for the very first time this season (Ben Garuccio, James Donachie, Tomoki Imai, Josh Risdon) in last weekend’s 3-1 win over the Wanderers.


  • Western United: 12th
  • Melbourne Victory: 3rd


  • Western United: W – L – D – W – W
  • Melbourne Victory: D – W – L – L – W


  • Western United have won three of their last four A-League Men matches against Melbourne Victory but lost their last match 1-2 on 20 February 2024; they were winless in five matches prior to this span (D1 L4).
  • Melbourne Victory were defeated by Central Coast Mariners 0-1 in their last A-League Men match at AAMI Park on 25 February 2024; prior to this they had only lost one of their previous ten games at the venue (W4 D5), conceding eight goals in total.
  • Western United are undefeated in their last three A-League Men matches (W2 D1), the last time they had a longer undefeated streak was nine games (W6 L3) from January to March 2022.

Friday, 7.45pm AEDT: Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United

Results need to improve for Adelaide United – and fast – but the Reds’ recent away form line does not read well ahead of a trip to the Hunter Valley to take on Newcastle Jets.

Carl Veart’s side are in freefall, having lost seven of eight games leading into Round 21. The Reds have just five wins on the board this season including two in the first two rounds. Defeat to Victory last time out, coupled with Newcastle’s 2-2 draw to Perth, saw the Jets dump Adelaide into 11th place on the table prior to their Friday-night meeting.

Adelaide have lost six of their last seven games outside of South Australia including the last three on the bounce.

Jets coach Robbie Stanton was frustrated with a Round 20 result against Perth, having watched his side cough up a two-goal lead to share the points in a four-goal draw. Stanton spoke post-game about his disappointment in Newcastle’s game management as his team allowed Perth to take control and ultimately snag a point via Adam Taggart’s 18-minute brace.

“I’m disappointed,” he said, “It’s a lesson I’m hoping we learn but we’re not learning that lesson. I have to take part of it (the blame) but I think it’s time the players own it as well.

“There (are) a few there I’m going to remind and might get punished for it, because it’s not good enough. They’ve had enough free ride to get away with it because they’re young and inexperienced, but I think they’ve had enough experiences now to say: ‘I’ve cost us’ or: ‘I’ve made some mistakes, I haven’t listened’. So we’ll see what happens in the next week.”


  • Newcastle Jets: 10th
  • Adelaide United: 11th


  • Newcastle Jets: D – L – D – L – D
  • Adelaide United: D – L – L – L – L


  • Adelaide United have won six of their last seven A-League Men matches against Newcastle Jets (L1), they have scored 17 goals in those wins in that span but not kept a single clean sheet.
  • Newcastle Jets are winless in their last four A-League Men matches at McDonald Jones Stadium (D2 L2), they have failed to score a first-half goal in any of these matches.
  • Newcastle Jets have hit the woodwork once for every 18 shots at goal this A-League Men season, the most frequent of any team in the competition; indeed, their 15 total shots hitting the woodwork are four more than any other team.

Saturday, 3.30pm: Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC

The Isuzu UTE A-League heads to Auckland on Saturday as Wellington Phoenix host Sydney FC at Eden Park in the second meeting between Sydney head coach Ufuk Talay and his former ‘Phoenix assistant Giancarlo Italiano.

Talay departed his post as Wellington head coach at the end of last season and was replaced by Italiano; Steve Corica’s early-season sacking at the Sky Blues led to Talay’s arrival and the two coaches and great friends have subsequently overseen two of the best teams in the competition.

Italiano’s Phoenix surrendered top spot to Central Coast in Round 20 after a surprise 1-0 loss to Melbourne City and will hope to quickly return to form against a Sky Blues outfit unbeaten in eight games and closing in on the top four.

The first time these two teams met, Talay claimed bragging rights with a 3-1 win at home. But replicating the result will be no easy feat at a venue where Wellington have never tasted defeat in 11 games (W6, D5).


  • Wellington Phoenix: 2nd
  • Sydney FC: 5th


  • Wellington Phoenix: W – W – D – W – L
  • Sydney FC: W – W – D – W – D


  • Sydney FC won their last A-League Men match 3-1 against Wellington Phoenix earlier this A-League Men season (29 December 2023), snapping a three-game winless streak (D1 L2); they had won seven of their previous eight matches prior to this span (D1).
  • Sydney FC are unbeaten in their last eight A-League Men matches (W4 D4), the last time they had a longer unbeaten run was 13 matches (W12 D1) from November 2019 to February 2020.
  • Wellington Phoenix have dropped only four competition points from winning positions in the 2023-24 A- League Men season, the joint-fewest of any team, while no team has gained fewer competition points from losing positions this season than Sydney FC (3).
  • Sydney FC have scored 23 goals in the first halves of games this A-League Men season, more than any other team in the competition, while no team has conceded fewer goals in this period than the WellingtonPhoenix (7).

Saturday, 4pm: Brisbane Roar v Macarthur FC

Brisbane Roar are on the outside of the top six and looking in – but the Queenslanders are showing no fear against teams inside the finals bracket heading towards the end of the regular season, and this Saturday’s clash with Macarthur offers Ruben Zadkovich’s side the opportunity to continue that trend.

Brisbane have picked up 15 points against teams currently in the top six – more than any team in the league this season. Bizarrely, their four wins and three draws from 13 games against the current top six have come despite being outscored 21 to 30 – a fact skewed largely by an 8-0 loss to Melbourne City earlier this season.

The Bulls have had the better of this matchup across the eight meetings between these two clubs, winning four times, drawing twice and losing twice against the Roar. The Bulls have enjoyed a strong stretch of form of late, losing just two of their last 11 games – but those two defeats have come in Macarthur’s last four league appearances against the top two (Wellington and Central Coast).

Macarthur were dealt a severe blow this week when in-form youngster Bernardo was ruled out for the remainder of the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon. The 19-year-old had scored three goals in four games leading up to the season-ending injury.

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  • Brisbane Roar: 8th
  • Macarthur FC: 4th


  • Brisbane Roar: W – L – D – W – D
  • Macarthur FC: W – L – D – W – L


  • Macarthur FC are undefeated in their last five A-League Men matches against Brisbane Roar (W3 D2), they have not conceded a first-half goal in that span.
  • Brisbane Roar are undefeated in their last four A-League Men matches at home (W2 D2), outscoring their opposition 11-6 in that span.
  • Macarthur FC are undefeated in their last five A-League Men matches away from Campbelltown Stadium (W2 D3), their joint-longest unbeaten run away from their home venue in the competition.