Hyundai A-League preview: Victory v Jets
Hyundai A-League football comes to Geelong for just the third time with Victory looking to continue their winning run against a Jets side who have surprised many with their recent consistency.
Monday, 2 January 2017
Simonds Stadium, Geelong
Kick-Off: 7:50PM (Local) (7:50PM (AEDT))
Against most expectations, the Jets have spent the past fortnight in the top half of the table.
They’ve collected seven of the last nine available points and arguably did enough against Phoenix on Boxing Day to win a third match on the bounce.
Following a horror run of five losses in six games, coach Mark Jones has instilled a previously absent determination and steel into his side, who are now defying pre-season predictions and targeting a finals finish for the first time since 2009/10.
Victory will provide a stern test of the Jets’ ability and resilience though and look every inch a title challenger once more.
They’ve won their last three games – and five of their last six – to push up to second on the ladder and they boast an evenly-balanced and – importantly – deep squad of high quality players.
Victory still bullishly believe they can catch Sydney FC and with two “Big Blues” still to be played (the one on Australia Day should be a belter) it’s certainly not out of the question, even given the Sky Blues’ imperious form.
First though, Kevin Muscat’s men must negotiate a Newcastle side very much on the up. The Geelong faithful should be in for a rugged but entertaining New Year’s tussle.
- Victory are undefeated in their last three encounters with Newcastle Jets (W2, D1), keeping two clean sheets in the process.
- There have been just eight goals scored in the last six games between these teams and only one goal in the opening half of those matches.
- Victory are currently unbeaten in six games (W5 D1).
- The Big V have won every one of their eight games played on a Monday across A-League history, outscoring their opposition 11-1 across the last three such fixtures.
- In stark contrast, Newcastle Jets have never won from their nine Monday fixtures in A-League history (D3, L6), conceding multiple goals on all but one occasion
ROUTE TO GOAL
The Jets have found their goalscoring mojo recently, netting six times in their last three games, having scored just twice in their previous six outings.
Andrew Nabbout was excellent in the Boxing Day draw with Phoenix, his mazy run and finish to secure a point for the Jets testimony to his precocious ability.
Andrew Hoole also scored against Wellington and along with experienced Dane Morten Nordstrand, looks set to benefit from Nabbout’s trickery.
Victory marksman Besart Berisha has put paid to any thoughts of a supposed drought with five goals in his last four games, including a sublime hat-trick against Western Sydney three weeks ago.
The prolific Albanian has profited most from the return of the mercurial maestro Marco Rojas and their combination of goals and assists is the envy of every other A-League outfit.
The “Kiwi Messi” took his own tally to eight goals with a brace against the Mariners on Wednesday.
James Troisi, Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Oliver Bozanic provide midfield thrust, while German striker Maximilian Beister and youngster Jai Ingham continue to wait for opportunities from the bench.
Kevin Muscat is quite simply spoilt for choice.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK
It looked as though Besart Berisha had finally wrested the all-time A-League goalscoring record from Archie Thompson on Wednesday night, before a closer look showed Victory’s first goal came off Mariners defender Jake McGing. Thompson played along from his vantage point high in the stands at AAMI Park.
FORM GUIDE (last five games)
Melbourne Victory: WDWWW
Newcastle Jets: LLWWD
Melbourne Victory 3 Newcastle Jets 1