Preview: Gold Coast United v Melbourne Victory

After 28 shots at goal last week for no reward apart from two penalties, the signs are there that Melbourne are starting to hit form as they head north to take on Gold Coast.

Date: Sunday August 29 Kick-off: 3:00pm AEST Venue: Skilled Park

Head-to-head Played 3: Wins: Melbourne Victory 2. Gold Coast 1

Previous Meeting Gold Coast United 1, Melbourne Victory 0, Skilled Park, January 2010

Why we don't like 'em Gold Coast had a swagger about them as soon as they came into the competition and that ruffled a few feathers last year. Also ruffling a few feathers was former Victory man Steve Pantelidis, who received a lengthy ban for an off the ball incident involving Robbie Kruse the last time these two teams played. Melbourne lost that game 1-0.

Season so far: Gold Coast United: R2: Wellington Phoenix 3, Gold Coast United 3, Westpac Stadium R1: Gold Coast United 0, Brisbane Roar 0, Skilled Park

Melbourne Victory R3: Melbourne Victory 2, North Queensland Fury 2 R2: Melbourne Victory 0, Perth Glory 2, AAMI Park R1: Sydney FC 3, Melbourne Victory 3, SFS

Decisions for Ernie Grant Brebner is pushing to be included in the starting line-up in this match after missing last week through soreness. Billy Celeski has made significant progress after his recent knee scare and could find himself a spot on the bench. Nick Ward and Matthew Foschini have been called into an extended squad.

Behind Enemy Lines Gold Coast are without leading goalscorer Shane Smeltz, who is looking to sew up a move to Turkey. Miron Bleiberg has called in former Manchester United player John Curtis, while Andrew Barisic, Golgol Mebrahtu, Adama Traore and Ben Halloran have also been included in an extended squad.

Our Hero Kevin Muscat - Scored two penalties last week and was involved in plenty of the play. The veteran skipper was at his imposing best against the Fury and will look to ensure Melbourne's defence capitalises on the absence of Smeltz.

The Danger man Jason Culina - No doubt one of the best (non Victory) players in the competition. He is renowned for being a playmaker, but could even slip into a role up front this week with Smeltz absent. To win the match, Melbourne must nullify his influence.

Why we will win After 28 shots at goal last week for no reward apart from two penalties, the signs are there that Melbourne are starting to hit form. It is just a matter of getting the ball on the back of the net. Robbie Kruse and Mate Dugandzic would have benefited from playing alongside one another for the first time this year and with Ricardinho set to be available in the next few weeks, there is plenty of incentive to start scoring goals.

The defence is looking reasonably strong with the exception of set pieces and Merrick expects things to tighten up in that department as the season wears on. You get the sense that there have been plenty of worse sides with a 0-2-1 record.

Similarly Gold Coast are yet to notch a win after two draws in two matches. They were wildly contrasting matches before a bye last week. The bye may have come at a bad time for them so early in the season and you have to wonder if it will have an affect against a slightly-more seasoned side on Sunday.

TEAMS: Gold Coast United Squad: 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 2.Steve PANTELIDIS, 3.Michael THWAITE, 5.ROBSON, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 8.ANDERSON, 10.Jason CULINA (c), 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 14.Joel PORTER, 15.Tahj MINNIECON, 16.Kristian REES, 18.James BROWN, 19.Andrew BARISIC, 20.Scott HIGGINS (gk), 21.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 22.Adama TRAORE, 24.John CURTIS, 26.Ben HALLORAN *four to be omitted*

In: 19.Andrew BARISIC (promoted), 21.Golgol MEBRAHTU (promoted), 22.Adama TRAORE (promoted), 24.John CURTIS (return from calf injury), 26.Ben HALLORAN (promoted) Out: 9.Shane SMELTZ (overseas) Unavailable: Daniel Piorkowski (ankle injury - 4 weeks), Matt Osman (knee injury - indefinite).

Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3.Mate DUGANDZIC, 5. Surat SUKHA, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8.Grant BREBNER, 11.Marvin ANGULO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13.Diogo FERREIRA, 14. Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Matthew FOSCHINI, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Sebastian MATTEI (gk), 21.Robbie KRUSE, 22.Nick WARD, 23.Adrian LEIJER, 27. Geoff KELLAWAY *four to be omitted*

In: 14.Billy CELESKI (returns from injury), 17.Matthew FOSCHINI (promoted), 22.Nick WARD (promoted), 8.Grant BREBNER (returns from soreness) Out: Nil Unavailable: Archie THOMPSON (knee - indefinite), Matthew KEMP (knee - indefinite)