Hyundai A-League preview: Jets v Victory

Can the reigning champions reignite their title defence or will their Hunter hoodoo continue against a Jets side looking to re-launch their own stuttering campaign?

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Sunday, 3 January 2016

Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Victory

Hunter Stadium, Newcastle

Kick-Off:  5:00 PM (Local) (5:00 PM (AEDT))

Referee:  Jarred Gillett

Assistant Referee 1:  Ryan Gallagher

Assistant Referee 2:  Scott Edeling

Fourth Official:  Trent Nash

TV Broadcast:  Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 1 (New Zealand)

#NEWvMVC

Radio Broadcast:  1233 ABC Newcastle*, 774 ABC Melbourne*,  ABC Local Radio Vic*, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live.

*Following coverage of the cricket

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #NEWvMVC

To purchase tickets visit  www.a-league.com.au/tickets

Newcastle Jets Squad:  1. Mark BIRIGHITTI (Gk), 2. Daniel MULLEN, 3. Jason HOFFMAN, 4. Nigel BOOGAARD (C), 5. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6. Cameron WATSON, 7. Enver ALIVODIC, 8. Mateo POLJAK, 9. Milos TRIFUNOVIC, 14. Mitch COOPER, 17. Radovan PAVICEVIC, 20. Ben KENNEDY (Gk), 22. Lachlan JACKSON, 24. Nicholas COWBURN, 25. Brandon LUNDY, 27. Braedyn CROWLEY, 28. Ryan KITTO **one to be omitted**

Ins:  3. Jason HOFFMAN (returns from suspension), 25. Brandon LUNDY (promoted)

Outs:  23. David CARNEY (suspended – 1 week)

Unavailable:  11. Labinot HALITI (knee – season), 13. Lee KI-JE (international transfer pending), 23. David CARNEY (suspended – 1 week)

Melbourne Victory squad : 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 2.Jason GERIA, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM (c), 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.Connor PAIN, 13.Oliver BOZANIC, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15.Giancarlo GALLIFUOCO, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE, 18.Dylan MURNANE, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 24.Thomas DENG **two to be omitted**

  Ins : 15.Giancarlo GALLIFUOCO (promoted), 16.Rashid MAHAZI (returns from injury)

Outs : Nil

Unavailable : 4.Nick ANSELL (foot – 3 weeks), 7.Gui FINKLER (calf – 1 week), 21.Carl VALERI (ill – indefinite)

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

In what’s been a topsy-turvy season for a lot of teams the Jets and Victory will be two sides desperate to kick-off 2016 with an upswing in their fortunes.

Having led the competition at different stages throughout the early rounds both are now winless from their last five starts and have picked up just three points between them in that time.

The Victory may have claimed all three pieces of silverware on offer in 2015 but Newcastle undoubtedly remain their bogey side.

The Jets have lost just one of the past seven match-up’s between these two sides (3W, 3D) and have claimed the last two, with Victory not having won in Newcastle since October 2009.

OPTA DATA

Newcastle Jets have won both of their last two fixtures against Melbourne Victory in the A-League, each by a scoreline of 1-0. A win for the Jets in this match would be their longest ever winning streak against the Victory.

Melbourne Victory have lost each of their last four away fixtures in the A-League, a loss to Newcastle would be their fifth in a row and equal the club record (Rd 9-17, 2011/12).

Newcastle have now failed to score a goal in four consecutive matches, equalling the longest streak in club history and now only one behind the most of any active A-League club (5 – Melbourne City, Sydney FC, Perth Glory).

Melbourne Victory have scored a league-high four goals from outside the box this season.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Not surprisingly there’s a direct correlation with both side’s winless runs and their lack of goals.

The Jets have failed to register a goal in their last six hours of football, while Victory have only managed two – one from the spot – during that time.

Penalties, the lineman’s flag and the woodwork have all conspired to vex two teams down on their luck, so finishing will be critical to the outcome of this one.

Scott Miller’s side will need to get off to a strong start especially considering they’ve scored just one of their nine goals this season in the first-half.

An overreliance on Milos Trifunovic and David Carney in attack has been exposed, while some of their youngsters have spurned some glorious chances in recent weeks.

The Jets have remained dangerous from set-pieces and on the counter but quite simply any avenue to goal will do.

Besart Berisha has scored three of Victory’s last four goals – although two of those have come from the penalty spot.

As such Kevin Muscat will feel he’s not getting enough of a contribution from the Big V’s vaunted frontline, which will no doubt have been addressed.

With time ticking down to when Victory have to name the three foreign players on their Asian Champions League roster expect their five visa players to look to turn it on.

Ben Kantarovsji celebrates scoring with Jets teammate Milos Trifunovic.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Besart Berisha. Victory’s marquee was again under the microscope following the ease with which he lost his balance in the box to earn his side a penalty against Perth. Opinions were divided as to whether the spot-kick should’ve been awarded so no doubt Bes will especially determined to silence his critics with a standout performance.

FORM LINES

Newcastle Jets: DLLDL
Melbourne Victory : LLLLD

PREDICTION
Newcastle Jets 1 – Melbourne Victory 2

Gui Finkler on the ball during Victory's 1-0 loss to Perth Glory in Round 5.