Preview: Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets
The team from the Hunter have had one of the best overall records against the men in blue and white over the years, winning eight of the 17 matches between the two.
Date: Date: Wednesday February 2 Kick-off: 7:00pm Venue: Etihad Stadium Television: Live and exclusive on Fox Sports 2 from 6:30pm (AEDT) Live Match Centre: www.melbournevictory.com.au
Head-to-head Played 17: Melbourne Victory 5, Newcastle Jets 8, 4 draws.
Previous Meeting Melbourne Victory 2, Newcastle United 1, AAMI Park, December 2010
Why we don't like 'em The team from the Hunter have had one of the best overall records against the men in blue and white over the years, winning eight of the 17 matches between the two.
Even in Victory's championship campaigns Newcastle still managed to beat them twice in each season while Labinot Haliti made it an art form of scoring against Melbourne last season, getting himself on the scoresheet in all three games.
The teams shared a 0-0 draw in September before Ricardinho and Carlos Hernandez scored in a 2-1 win over the Jets just after Christmas.
Past five matches: Melbourne Victory: Melbourne Victory 2, Gold Coast United 0, AAMI Park North Queensland Fury 0, Melbourne Victory 3, Dairy Farmers Stadium Melbourne Victory 2, Melbourne Heart 2, Etihad Stadium Sydney FC 1, Melbourne Victory 1, SFS Melbourne Victory 1, Adelaide United 4, AAMI Park
Newcastle Jets: Wellington Phoenix 1, Newcastle Jets 0, Westpac Stadium Gold Coast United 5, Newcastle Jets 1, Skilled Park Newcastle Jets 0, Central Coast Mariners 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium Newcastle Jets 1, North Queensland Fury 0, EnergyAustralia Stadium North Queensland Fury 1, Newcastle Jets 3, Dairy Farmers Stadium
Decisions for Ernie Two of Victory's senior players will miss this match, Carlos Hernandez (groin) and Grant Brebner (calf) clearing the way for the return of Robbie Kruse from international duty and Marvin Angulo from the bench. Archie Thompson, Billy Celeski and Surat Sukha remain sidelined through injury and like Leigh Broxham, who has been selected in an extended squad but will be rested, are expected back for the final match of the regular season.
Behind Enemy Lines The Jets lose Ryan Griffiths through suspension, with Zhang Shuo and Mario Simic called into the squad. Absent through injury are Michael Bridges (knee), Sean Rooney (knee), Ben Kantarovski (knee), Brodie Mooy (Compartment Syndrome), Kasey Wehrman (foot), Ruben Zadkovich (knee), Ali Abbas (groin), Kaz Patafta (groin) and Sasho Petrovski (hamstring).
Our Hero Danny Allsopp picks up another nomination in this category after his brace on Sunday against GCU made it five goals in four games. The striker has wasted no time finding his best form and looms as a major player in the finals.
Danger man Labinot Haliti - He hasn't enjoyed the best run of form of late but Hailiti loves scoring against Victory and whether he starts the game or comes on as a sub, Victory will have to keep a close eye on him.
Why we will win Victory have been very impressive in the final half of the season and have lost just two of their past 13 matches. Back-to-back wins over North Queensland and Gold Coast have all but sewn up a spot in the finals, but there is still an extra carrot in there the possibility of knocking off gold Coast United for fourth place.
Injuries continue to cause problems at the club, and the loss of both Hernandez and Brebner will be hard to cover. Angulo gets his chance to step in for his countryman, in a role he has played many times before coming to Melbourne.
Kruse's return from the Middle East could not have been better timed and he has a couple of games to find his best ahead of the finals. He and Allsopp have never played with each other before but they look like a well-suited pair.
This looms as a must-win match for a sorely out of form Newcastle side, who find themselves four points adrift of the finals race with four matches remaining. Injuries have cruelled their charge to the finals and a poor result here will just about finish them off. The main effect has been in defence where, after conceding 18 in their first 20 matches, have now copped 11 in their past six.
Given Victory's form and the fact that the Jets have lost six of their past eight, you would be confident Melbourne would get the job done.
Teams Melbourne Victory: 1.Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 3. Mate DUGANDZIC, 4. Petar FRANJIC, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 7. Matthew KEMP, 9. RICARDINHO, 11. Marvin ANGULO, 12. Rodrigo VARGAS, 13. Diogo FERREIRA, 15. Tom PONDELJAK, 17. Matthew FOSCHINI, 18. Danny ALLSOPP, 20. Sebastian MATTEI (gk), 21. Robbie KRUSE, 22. Geoff KELLAWAY, 23. Adrian LEIJER (c), 24. Luke PILKINGTON. *two to be omitted*
In: Luke PILKINGTON (promoted), Geoff KELLAWAY (promoted), Leigh BROXHAM (returns from injury), Robbie KRUSE (returns from international duty). Out: Grant BREBNER (calf), Carlos Hernandez (groin), Evan BERGER (hamstring), Billy CELESKI (hip) Unavailable: Archie THOMPSON (hamstring - 1-2 weeks), Surat SUKHA (calf - weeks) Kevin MUSCAT (suspension - 7 matches).
Newcastle Jets: 1. Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2. Taylor REGAN, 3. Adam D'APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR STANLEY (c), 9. Zhang SHUO, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 14. Labinot HALITI, 16. Jeremy BROCKIE, 17. Marcello FIORENTINI, 18. Marko JESIC, 25. Samuel GALLAWAY, 26. James VIRGILI, 28. Mario SIMIC, 31. Jacob PEPPER, 40. Matthew NASH *one to be omitted*
In: Zhang SHUO, Mario SIMIC (both promoted) Out: Ryan Griffiths (suspension) Unavailable: Michael BRIDGES (knee - six weeks), Sean ROONEY (knee - season), Ben KANTAROVSKI (knee - season), Brodie MOOY (compartment syndrome - season), Kasey WEHRMAN (Foot - four weeks), Ruben ZADKOVICH (knee - two weeks), Ali ABBAS (groin - one week), Kaz PATAFTA (groin - one week), Sasho PETROVSKI (Hamstring- one week) Neil YOUNG (Not Selected)