Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi is confident his side can handle Perth’s ‘bullying’ style when the two sides clash at AAMI Park on Saturday.
The Glory have beaten the Heart the past four times they have met, including last season’s thumping 3-0 win in the qualifying final.
Perth were also comfortable winners earlier this season and Aloisi conceded his side had been bullied in those defeats.
But the rookie coach declared his side are now better equipped to handle whatever the Glory can throw at them.
“I think physically they’ve bullied us on a number of occasions. That’s not going to happen anymore, we’re quite a strong team,” Aloisi said before training on Friday.
“We’ll make sure that we stay focused on our game and don’t let them worry us if they do try and bully us because we’ve got some senior players that know how to handle Perth.
“We’re not going to try and bully them because that’s not our game, we’re just going to make sure if they do it against us that we’re prepared for it.”
Perth striker Shane Smeltz missed the most recent clash between the two sides, but does have a strong record against the Heart with six goals in four games, including a hat-trick in last season’s final.
Aloisi identified the New Zealand international as the danger man and hopes his side dominate the midfield to limit the star striker’s opportunities in front of goal.
“They’ve also got a top striker in Smeltz so we know we have to take care of him and just make sure that he doesn’t get the service that he needs to score goals,” Aloisi said.
“We’re confident – I know we haven’t got the results against Perth recently but we know where we can attack them and what we have to do to break them down.”
The Heart have shown patches of brilliance so far this season, but have failed to produce their best on a consistent basis and have only won once since their opening-round derby victory.
But Aloisi was buoyed by last week’s clean sheet against Sydney and is confident they are on the verge of stringing some wins together.
“We kept a clean sheet for the first time this season so the boys know that they can keep clean sheets,” he said.
“We’ve scored seven goals in our last two home games so we know where the back of the net is, we know how to create chances. It’s a matter of doing both in the same game and we’ll win and go on a good run and if you do go on a good run you climb the table very quickly.”