Hyundai A-League preview: Phoenix v Jets

Phoenix are down on their luck; Newcastle are beset by injuries. Two sides desperate for three points meet in Wellington on Saturday.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets

Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Kick-Off: 7:35PM (Local) (5:35PM (AEDT))

Referee: Shaun Evans

Assistant Referee 1: Simon Lount

Assistant Referee 2: Sarah Jones

Fourth Official: Matthew Conger

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 2 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live, Crocmedia A-League Live (www.facebook.com/A-leagueLIVERadio), EON Sports Radio (eonsportsradio.com)

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

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au

Marco Rossi

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 2.Jacob TRATT, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Ryan LOWRY, 7.Gui FINKLER, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Michael MCGLINCHEY, 11.Hamish WATSON, 13.Marco ROSSI, 14.Alex RUFER, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Vince LIA, 18.Ben LITFIN, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 21 Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Matthew RIDENTON

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 5.Ryan LOWRY (promoted), 11.Hamish WATSON (promoted), 13.Marco ROSSI (returns from injury), 19.Tom Doyle (returns from injury)

Outs: 6.Dylan FOX (suspended), 12.Adam PARKHOUSE (hamstring – 1-2 weeks)

Unavailable: 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ (hamstring – 1-2 weeks)

Newcastle Jets squad: 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Mateo POLJAK, 9.Aleksandr KOKKO, 10.Wayne BROWN, 11.Labinot HALITI, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 15.Andrew NABBOUT, 16.Nicholas COWBURN, 19.Morten NORDSTRAND, 20.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 23.Devante CLUT, 27.Caio DE GODOY, 28.Johnny KOUTROUMBIS, 40.Noah JAMES (gk)

**one to be omitted**

Ins: 11.Labinot HALITI (promoted), 15.Andrew NABBOUT (returns from injury), 40.Noah JAMES (gk) (promoted)

Outs: 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI (knee – 2-3 weeks), 30.Pierce CLARK (gk) (ankle – 1 week)

Unavailable: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk) (Achilles – season), 2.Daniel MULLEN (knee – indefinite), 21.Daniel ALESSI (knee – season), 22.Lachlan JACKSON (ankle – indefinite)

Andrew Nabbout celebrates after Newcastle Jets opened the scoring against the Roar.

BLUFFER'S GUIDE

The stats tell a grim tale. 

Four games, four losses – it has been a win-less opening month for the Phoenix.

Competitive in their opening three matches, it all came unstuck on Melbourne Cup eve as Ernie Merrick’s side copped a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of a ruthless Victory.

Dylan Fox’s red card perhaps exaggerated the score-line but it showed Wellington have real concerns at both ends of the pitch.

Missing regular defenders Marco Rossi and Tom Doyle, Phoenix’s inexperienced defenders - Andrew Durante the exception - were caught horribly exposed with Big V marksmen Marco Rojas and Besart Berisha punishing the visitors in transition.

Thankfully for the hosts, Rossi and Doyle are back this week.

Roy Krishna scored the Kiwi outfit’s first goal of the season  – albeit from the penalty spot – but it simply isn’t clicking for the Nix in the front third at the moment.

A disappointed Roy Krishna sinks to the turf following full-time at Westpac Stadium.

Meanwhile, Newcastle’s eye-catching start to the season came to a halt last weekend against the high-flying Sky Blues and the Novocastrians are counting the cost.

Already missing regular defenders Daniel Mullen (knee) and Lachlan Jackson (ankle), makeshift centre-back Ben Kantarovski limped off against Sydney with a torn meniscus and is set for an extended layoff.

The Jets are down to just one specialist central defender (skipper Nigel Boogaard) with versatile rookie Johnny Koutroumbis set to step into the role.

Newcastle (sixth on the ladder) have traditionally struggled at Westpac Stadium but will fancy their chances with the Phoenix (in tenth) having lost their last six straight on home soil, their longest ever streak.

Koutroumbis

OPTA DATA

Hyundai A-League Round 5 Opta stats

ROUTE TO GOAL

The Phoenix broke their goal-scoring duck last weekend but a lack of continuity in attack has been a cause for concern.

That said, any side featuring Roy Krishna, Gui Finkler, Kosta Barbarouses, Michael McGlinchey and Roly Bonevacia is going to be amongst the goals sooner or later.

Wellington have lacked a focal point in attack in the opening month with Finkler often used as a "false nine" but the service to the front three hasn’t been up to scratch.

But if the Nix can utilise the speed of Krishna, Barbarouses and McGlinchey, especially on the break, then Ernie Merrick’s side will cause the visitors plenty of problems.

Wellington Phoenix's Gui Finkler, Hamish Watson and Kosta Barbarouses celebrate a goal in the FFA Cup.

For the Jets, Andrew Nabbout’s inclusion is a big boost for Mark Jones’ side.

The enigmatic winger was the club’s best player in the opening weeks and provides a real X-factor in attack, though he’s likely to be introduced off the bench at the Cake Tin.

Newcastle have looked dangerous in the opening month but need more end product from their attacking players with central defender Nigel Boogaard the club’s leading-scorer with two goals.

Strikers Aleksandr Kokko and Morten Nordstrand are building back to fitness after early season niggles and could both start for the first time this season.

Nordstrand in particular looms as a key for the visitors with the classy Dane’s composure and ability to hold up the ball a real asset, though he has failed to find the target this season.

The pace of Andrew Hoole will be a threat for Newcastle in transition and it will be interesting to see whether Jones employs the youngster in a wide role or more centrally, where he has looked threatening over the past fortnight.

Andrew Hoole celebrates scoring his first outfield goal with Jets teammates on Sunday.

WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Andrew Durante and Vince Lia. The pair are set to play their 250th and 200th games respectively and would love nothing more than to be able to celebrate their milestones with three points in front of their home fans.

FORM LINES

Newcastle Jets: DWDL

Wellington Phoenix: LLLL

PREDICTION

Wellington Phoenix 1 Newcastle Jets 1