Perth Glory's defensive record 'builds a foundation towards success' - Tony Popovic
Perth Glory will be aiming to complete a rare hat trick of clean sheets when they lock horns with Sydney FC in Friday's blockbuster at nib Stadium.
The Glory haven't kept three consecutive clean sheets since rounds 13-15 in the 2013-14 A-League campaign -- almost five years ago.
But they enter this week's round full of confidence after keeping Melbourne City and Newcastle Jets goalless in the past two matches.
The Glory have conceded a league-low seven goals in eight matches this season.
It's in stark contrast to last season, when Glory leaked an average of 1.85 goals per game -- the second worst in the league.
Glory haven't been at their best in recent weeks, but their ability to grind out results has pleased coach Tony Popovic.
The clean sheets has been the icing on the cake.
"We've been trying to improve in terms of the number of clean sheets we get," Popovic said.
"We know that builds a foundation towards success, so we're delighted that's happened. We want that resilience and defensive structure to continue on Friday."
Glory's defensive unit has been hit hard by injuries this season, with Alex Grant (foot) and Scott Neville (ankle) still sidelined.
Socceroos defender Matthew Spiranovic lasted just 31 minutes in his Glory debut before tweaking his hamstring.
Nevertheless, Glory have found a way to plug the holes, with the likes of Ivan Franjic, Jason Davidson, Shane Lowry, Tomislav Mrcela, and Dino Djulbic playing key roles.
"It just shows the depth of the squad. That's important to winning Championships," said Franjic, who won three titles with Brisbane Roar.
"The players who have come in have done a really good job.
"We've defended our lines very well, and sometimes teams can play for days and it doesn't feel like they are going to score."
The Glory will again be without skipper Diego Castro (hamstring), while Spiranovic is no certainty to return from his own hamstring niggle. Perth sit two points clear on top of the table, with Sydney FC six points further adrift in third spot.
Glory host Sydney twice over the next 20 days, giving them an excellent chance to open up a significant gap on their title rivals.
Melbourne Victory are just two points behind Glory following a stunning six-match winning run.
Victory's hot run has helped Glory escape much of the spotlight despite the team's unbeaten start under Popovic.
It's something Glory players have embraced.
"Here [in Perth] you do fly a little bit under the radar," Popovic said.
"But I'm sure that spotlight will come more and more for this playing group as the season progresses."