Can the high-flying Jets catch Arnie's Sky Blues?

We're back on.

That was the overwhelming message from Hyundai A-League fans when the Newcastle Jets closed the gap on runaway leaders Sydney FC to just five points with four matches to play.

Ernie Merrick's men have the chance to move to within two points of the Sky Blues when they open round 24 of the Hyundai A-League against Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium on Friday night.

But it's an equally crucial clash for the home side who know defeat could see them fall out of the top six, depending on other results.

Get set for a frenetic Friday night clash!


Ernie Merrick admitted his team were second-best against Wellington last Saturday despite escaping with a 1-0 win and has urged them to learn the lessons of their close-run victory.

Jason Hoffman celebrates his winning goal against Wellington

It's the mark of a good side that they can still eke out wins even when they're outplayed.

The three points extended Newcastle's unbeaten streak to six matches and also kept alive their remarkable record of having scored in every game this season.


Adelaide United's 2-1 win over Perth Glory at the start of February took them to fourth place on the Hyundai A-League ladder after 19 rounds and in good shape for finals football.

But Marco Kurz's men have taken just two points from a possible twelve in the four games since and are in danger of being swallowed by the chasing pack and falling out of the finals places altogether.

Johan Absalonsen's strike on his return to the starting side against Melbourne City last week is Adelaide's only goal in the last 270 minutes, something they'll need to remedy against the free-scoring Jets.


After 146 days on the sideline with a broken ankle, Newcastle's Venezuelan marquee man Ronald Vargas made his return last week, enjoying half an hour off the bench against Phoenix.

His return couldn't come at a better time for the Jets with Andrew Nabbout departing for Urawa Red Diamonds and Dimi Petratos away with the Caltex Socceroos.

The class of Vargas was apparent in his brief cameo last Saturday so expect him to play an even greater role this weekend.


Both previous Hyundai A-League meetings this season have resulted in 2-1 wins for the Jets with Nabbout on the scoresheet both times.

In fact, none of the last nine meetings between the two have been decided by more than a single goal.

Furthermore, nine of Newcastle's last 11 games have been drawn or decided by a single goal.