The Western Sydney Wanderers will look to get their A-League killer instinct back when they face a rejuvenated Newcastle side at Hunter Stadium.
Last time Western Sydney visited Hunter Stadium, they left with the Premiers’ Plate having smashed Newcastle 3-0.
This time however, the Wanderers face a rejuvenated Jets looking to leapfrog them into second spot on the A-League ladder.
They also go into the clash having not tasted victory in three weeks.
It’s the first time in the Wanderers’ short history they’ve gone so long without a win.
The Jets on the other hand, are looking to maintain momentum after their confidence-boosting 2-1 upset away to Melbourne Victory last week.
Gary van Egmond has said a win over the reigning premiers on Saturday will prove his side are serious contenders this season.
And coach Tony Popovic is more than happy to show the Newcastle mentor just why Western Sydney are the benchmark.
“Of course, they’re going to be dangerous,” Popovic said on Friday.
“But that’s a credit to this football club that we’re perceived in that manner and we’ll do everything we can not to disappoint him and show him how good we are.”
But having only four goals in the past five games, defender Nikolai Toper-Stanley knows the Wanderers will need to finetune their attack if they’re to avoid another draw.
“It’s a process and the performances have been there but maybe we haven’t been as clinical,” he said.
“So we’ll be looking to get that killer instinct back.”
The Wanderers’ remarkable debut season culminated at Hunter Stadium on that fateful day in March.
But while the place they became premiers will forever be special, Popovic won’t be using those memories to fuel his side on Saturday.
“We won’t talk about that. This is a different game, a different season,” he said.
“There are three points on the line and we want those three points.”
The Wanderers sit five points behind top dogs Brisbane and will slide down the ladder with a loss on Saturday.
Popovic says he won’t be concerned about where they sit until the business end of the season.
“I don’t think where we are after nine or 10 games will determine where we will finish,” he said.
“We want to continue to improve our performances and, if we do that, we know we’ll finish at the right end.
Meanwhile, Popovic says he’s still in no rush to secure Youssouf Hersi beyond this season despite van Egmond saying the winger is on his January transfer hit-list.
He also dispelled any link to Socceroos defender David Carney, who is reported to be interested in a move to the A-League after being released by MLS side New York Red Bulls.
“Our roster is full,” Popovic said.