Perth Glory keep another clean sheet ahead of top-of-the-table clash with Melbourne Victory
Perth Glory have become the stingiest team in the A-League, but can Melbourne Victory end their golden run?
The Glory recorded a club-record fourth straight clean sheet on Saturday night as they destroyed Wellington Phoenix 3-0.
Newcastle, Melbourne City, and Adelaide were also unable to score against the Glory during that stretch, with Perth conceding a league-low 16 goals this season across 17 games.
It's in stark contrast to last season when Glory leaked 50 goals in 27 games -- the second-worst record in the league.
"It's a great achievement," Popovic said of the four consecutive clean sheets. "I'm delighted for the players, the club. It's not easy to do.
"Credit to all the players, not just the defenders. Everyone works together to try to make it as difficult as possible for the opponents to score, to get a clear chance."
Not only have Popovic's outfit become a rock in defence, but their own scoring average of 2.1 goals per game is the second-best in the league.
Perth sit a comfortable four points clear on top of the table, but their hopes of winning the A-League's minor premiership will be put to the test in their clash with Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Feb. 10.
The Victory ensured they remained four points behind Glory after coming from two goals down to beat Central Coast 3-2 on Saturday.
A Glory win next Sunday would put them seven points clear of Victory. But a loss would cut the margin to just one point.
Glory are unbeaten in seven away games this season, including a dramatic 3-2 win over the Victory in round two.
Perth play four of their next five matches away from home, and Popovic is backing his team to produce the goods.
The sixth-placed Phoenix were blown off the park by a rampant Glory outfit, and coach Mark Rudan wants them to use the loss as a learning experience.
"I keep stressing to the players we haven't achieved anything yet," Rudan said.
"We need to continue to improve. You go a couple of steps forward. [Against Perth] we took one step back, and that's disappointing. But we'll bounce back."
Wellington will be boosted by the return of skipper Andrew Durante (suspension), Steven Taylor (virus), and Mandi (child's birth) for Thursday night's clash with the Jets in Newcastle.