Melbourne Victory could create some distance between themselves and Western Sydney Wanderers when they return to AAMI Park to do battle with Newcastle Jets on Friday.
Date: Friday December 28, 2012 Kick-off: 7:30pm AEDT Venue:AAMI Park, Melbourne Head-to-head Played: 22, Wins: Melbourne Victory 7, Newcastle Jets 11, Draws: 4
Previous encounter Newcastle Jets 2 Melbourne Victory 1, October 26, 2012
Form: Past five matches: Melbourne Victory: WDLWW Newcastle Jets: WLLLD
The Game Melbourne Victory could create some distance between themselves and Western Sydney Wanderers when they return to AAMI Park for the third successive week to do battle with Newcastle Jets on Friday.
Victory occupy third position, one point ahead of the Wanderers, who travel to Perth on Thursday. Depending on results, Victory could end the weekend as much as four points clear.
The recent form of Ange Postecoglou's men should fill both the team and fans with confidence, having lost just once in their past eight games.
Victory head into Friday's match on the back of a dramatic 2-1 win over city-rivals Heart, while the Jets are coming off a convincing 2-1 win at home to cellar-dwellers Sydney FC, which ended a five-game winless streak.
And a win for the 2007/08 Hyundai A-League champions would further congest the standings, with just 10 points separating third from bottom.
The big issue Melbourne Victory - How will Victory cope without captain Adrian Leijer and influential utility Mark Milligan? Saturday's derby triumph came at a cost with the key duo handed suspensions. Leijer received a mandatory one-game ban for picking up his fifth yellow card of the season, while Milligan will miss the next two matches after the independent Match Review Panel found the Socceroo guilty of violent conduct. The news is a big blow with Leijer and Milligan offering so much protection in defence, an area that has caused a lot of concern this season. The likes of Sam Gallagher, Matthew Foschini, Spase Dilevski, Jonathan Bru and Leigh Broxham are in contention for the two spots but whether they can do the job remains to be seen.
Newcastle Jets - Can the Jets make it back-to-back wins? In defeating Sydney FC over the weekend Gary van Egmond's troops sealed maximum points for the first time since edging the Wanderers 2-1 in round six. The victory also snapped a scoreless streak of three games. England international Emile Heskey returned to the scorers list, netting his sixth goal since making the move down under. The Jets have also enjoyed a dominant history since the inception of the A-League, winning half of the teams' 22 encounters to date. In recent times, the Jets have collected nine points from a possible 12 against Victory, a run they will be keen to maintain on Friday.
Gamebreaker Archie Thompson - The charismatic Australian international broke the hearts of Victory's Melbourne rivals last week and you can count on him to be up and about against the Jets at AAMI Park. His match-winner was his first goal in 270 minutes of football and although he has failed to hit the net in back-to-back games this season, you can expect the 34-year-old to be a constant threat.
Prediction Melbourne 2-2 Newcastle. Both teams have struggled defensively this season, shipping a combined total of 45 goals in 12 games of football, while both teams also boast arguably the league's best two wide men in Marco Rojas and Craig Goodwin. Victory will be without two vital players but they have enough firepower to claim a point.