Defensive changes continue to hurt Glory

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Injuries and Alex Grant’s suspension has forced Perth Glory to make structural changes at the back, one that has seen them concede three goals in last night’s match.

A shift from the system involving three central defenders and two wing-backs to a flat back four has left Glory’s embattled defensive group vulnerable on the counter attack.

This became apparent in Sydney FC’s second and third goals in their 3-1 victory on Saturday night.

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Goals to Adam Le Fondre, Kosta Barbarouses and Milos Ninkovic were enough to see the reigning champions pass the reigning premiers, with the latter two goals the end products of counter attacks.

Despite being seven weeks into the season, Glory head coach Tony Popovic still cites fitness and cohesion as the reasons behind the club’s defensive woes.

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“The reality is, all the players that came in came very late and came at very different fitness levels,” Popovic said.

“The difference last year was that we had every player in July to train and prepare for a new system that we played in.

“This has been a very different situation with the defenders.”

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The four defenders Perth started with on Saturday were James Meredith, Gregory Wuthrich, Dino Djulbic, and Ivan Franjic.

Between them, they had played just 15 of a possible 24 games. Six of those belong to Wuthrich, who Popovic thinks will still need time to improve his condition.

He said it was Djulbic’s first start since last season’s grand final and it was only Meredith’s second game.

“There are a lot of players in the backline that are needing time,” he said.

“We’re not playing poorly, we’re limiting chances for opponents.

“Unfortunately, at the moment, the chances they’re getting, they’re good chances, and they’re taking them.”

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Sydney had just seven shots compared to Glory’s 17, but their long balls forward and the pace of their strikers were too damaging for Perth’s slow centre back pairing.

Perth have conceded a goal in all six of their games, sitting at nine goals against this season.

Sydney’s coach Steve Corica was satisfied not only with the result but how his team were able to beat the Glory on the rebound.

“They tried to shut us down with the ball, they did it well, but we caught them on the counter a few times which was fantastic,” he said.

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“We scored three great goals.

“It just takes time, maybe for them they haven’t picked up the points they would have expected, but they’re playing well.”

Perth will hope to be reinvigorated in coming weeks by not only Grant but also injured central defender Osama Malik.

“(Malik’s) running, but he certainly wasn’t right for this game, and we’ll have to see if he’s right for next week,” Popovic said.

Glory head to Melbourne to face Melbourne Victory, the side with the equal worst defensive record in the league.

Feature Image Credit: Perth Glory

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