Preview: Melbourne v Sydney

It's revenge time for Melbourne Victory here after its shock 3-0 home loss to its greatest rivals in their first meeting earlier this season.

Date: Saturday December 19 Kick-off: 8pm (AEST) Venue: Etihad Stadium, Melbourne

TV and Radio: Television Live and exclusive on Fox Sports 2 HD from 8pm. Radio 774 ABC Melbourne or online through abc.net.au. Tickets at Ticketmaster by calling 136 100 or online through ticketmaster.com.au

Head-to-headPlayed 13: Melbourne Victory 5, Sydney FC 3, Draws 5

Previous meeting Melbourne Victory 0, Sydney FC 3, round 10, 2009/10 at Etihad Stadium.

Past five rounds

Melbourne Victory: Round 13: Melbourne Victory 0, Central Coast Mariners 4, Etihad Stadium Round 14: Brisbane Roar 0, Melbourne Victory 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 15: Melbourne Victory 4, Gold Coast United 0, Etihad Stadium Round 16: Wellington Phoenix 1, Melbourne Victory 1, Westpac Stadium Round 17: Central Coast Mariners 0, Melbourne Victory 3, Bluetongue Stadium

Sydney FC: Round 13: Gold Coast United 1, Sydney FC 0, Skilled Park Round 14: Perth Glory 2, Sydney FC 0, Members' Equity Stadium Round 15: Sydney FC 1, Newcastle Jets 3, Sydney Football Stadium Round 16: Sydney FC 4, North Queensland Fury 1, Sydney Football Stadium Round 17: Wellington Phoenix 0, Sydney FC 1, FMG Stadium - Palmerston North

Analysis

It's revenge time for Melbourne Victory here after its shock 3-0 home loss to its greatest rivals in their first meeting earlier this season.

That loss, which at the time was the biggest home defeat in Melbourne's short but successful history, hurt Victory players deeply but ironically Melbourne had the better of that match for long periods but was cut open by a devastating five-minute burst by the visitors early in the first half.

But Melbourne is a much improved team since that encounter.

Not only have the reigning Hyundai A-League champions lost just one match in their eight fixtures since that loss to Sydney in early October but Victory has also stopped leaking goals.

After keeping just two clean sheets in its first 14 matches, Victory has only conceded one goal in the past four matches with much of the credit for that going to young goalkeeper Mitch Langerak, who has performed superbly since replacing Glenn Moss in goal.

So not only will Sydney be playing a much-improved Melbourne side from its previous meeting two months ago but also one with even more motivation as Victory gets the chance of opening up a six-point lead over Sydney at the top of the table with the business end of the season fast approaching.

Throw in the 500-game milestone for skipper Kevin Muscat, who becomes only the second Australian player to reach that feat on Saturday night, and Victory shapes as a formidable opponent for Sydney FC this weekend.

Melbourne Victory squad. 1.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3.Mate DUGANDZIC, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Matthew KEMP, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13.Nathan ELASI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Matthew FOSCHINI, 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 21.Robbie KRUSE, 22.Nick WARD, 23.Adrian LEIJER, 27.Sutee SUKSOMKIT, 28.Diogo FERREIRA

*two to be omitted*

In: Nathan ELASI (promoted), Nick WARD (return from suspension), Diogo FERREIRA (promoted from NYL) Out: Surat SUKHA (hamstring - 6 weeks)

Unavailable: Marvin ANGULO (pending registration), Evan BERGER (hamstring - 4 weeks), Grant BREBNER (ankle - 4 weeks), Billy CELESKI (knee - season), Steven PACE (abdomen - indefinite)

Sydney FC squad: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 2. Sebastian RYALL, 3.Stephan KELLER, 6. Karol KISEL, 7. Brendan GAN, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 10. Steve CORICA (c), 16. Chris PAYNE, 12. Shannon COLE, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 15. Terry MCFLYNN, 18.Adam CASEY, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 22. Sung Hwan BYUN, 23. Rhyan GRANT

*one to be omitted*

In: Mark BRIDGE (return from injury) Out: John ALOISI (hamstring - 1 week), Simon COLOSIMO (suspended - 1 week)

Unavailable: Nil