Melbourne Victory believe they are well rested following a week off, but can they kick-start a Hyundai A-League surge against bogey-team Newcastle Jets?
Saturday, 26 November 2016
Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 5:35PM (Local) (5:35PM (AEDT))
Referee: Alan Milliner
Assistant Referee 1: George Lakrindis
Assistant Referee 2: Luke Brennan
Fourth Official: Kurt Ams
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport Pop-Up 2 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: ABC Grandstand Digital, online and via the app, 1116 SEN (Melbourne), EON Sports Radio (eonsportsradio.com)
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #MVCvNEW
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au
Melbourne Victory squad: 2.Jason GERIA, 4.Nick ANSELL, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Marco ROJAS, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Max BEISTER, 10.James TROISI, 11.Mitch AUSTIN, 13.Oliver BOZANIC, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15.Alan BARO, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.James DONACHIE, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI (c), 22.Stefan NIGRO, 23.Jai INGHAM, 30.Lucas SPINELLA (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 7.Marco ROJAS (returns from international duty), 22.Stefan NIGRO (promoted), 30.Lucas SPINELLA (gk) (promoted)
Outs: 27.Alastair BRAY (gk) (shoulder – 4-5 months)
Unavailable: 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI (collarbone – 1 week)
Newcastle Jets squad: 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Mateo POLJAK, 10.Wayne BROWN (c), 11.Labinot HALITI, 12.Andy BRENNAN, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 16.Nicholas COWBURN, 18.MA Leilei, 19.Morten NORDSTRAND, 20.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 23.Devante CLUT, 26.Iain FYFE, 28.John KOUTROUMBIS, 30.Pierce CLARK (gk)
**one to be omitted**
Ins: 11.Labinot HALITI (promoted), 12.Andy BRENNAN (promoted), 13.Ivan VUJICA (promoted)
Outs: 9.Aleksandr KOKKO (jaw – 3-4 weeks), 15.Andrew NABBOUT (ankle – 2-4 weeks)
Unavailable: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk) (achilles – season), 2.Daniel MULLEN (knee – 3-4 weeks), 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (knee – 5 weeks), 21.Daniel ALESSI (knee – season), 22.Lachlan JACKSON (ankle – 3-4 weeks)
This match is the first of five out of Victory's next six fixtures in their home state and Kevin Muscat's men hope they can capitalise on that lack of travel to start reeling in Hyundai A-League leaders Sydney FC.
The problem for Victory is that they start such a vital period against a club that has always given the Big V problems.
Newcastle have the best win percentage against Victory of any A-League club, with the Jets having triumphed in 42.42 per cent of games between these two sides.
Victory's win percentage against the Jets is 33.33 per cent - level with Sydney FC and worse than their record versus all other Hyundai A-League clubs.
Muscat's side have had an inconsistent season so far but in their three games prior to last week's postponed fixture away to Wellington Phoenix, they had scored 10 goals.
With a week of more intense training plus a weekend's rest behind them, Victory are looking to string some positive results together.
Newcastle will arrive at AAMI Park without a win in their past five matches but they have won twice in their past four away trips against Victory.
Coach Mark Jones must be frustrated that the Jets couldn't break down 10-man Central Coast Mariners in last week's F3 Derby as they were held to a 1-1 draw.
The Jets' injury curse has continued with Aleksandr Kokko (jaw) and ex-Victory winger Andrew Nabbout (ankle) dropping out their squad, while Victory's back-up goalkeeper Alastair Bray (shoulder) is sidelined for up to five months.
ROUTE TO GOAL
With Max Beister arriving after the start of the 2016/17 Season, Marco Rojas' regular international duties and James Troisi's broken collarbone, it's little wonder Victory's forward set-up took a little while to get going.
Muscat has yet to pick the same starting XI in consecutive games this term but Troisi indicated this week that Victory are "brewing", which could be concerning for Newcastle.
Beister scored on debut a fortnight ago after coming on against Western Sydney Wanderers, while Troisi is back to 100 per cent and Rojas has scored eight goals in his past 10 games at international and club level.
With Kokko and Nabbout out, Morten Nordstrand, Devante Clut and Andrew Hoole are likely to start up front for the Jets.
Newcastle must improve their shooting accuracy - their record of 21 shots on target from 60 attempted is the worst in the A-League.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Morten Nordstrand. After a dreadful miss a fortnight ago versus Melbourne City, the Danish forward regrouped to open his account for 2016/17 with the equaliser against Central Coast.
Melbourne Victory: LWWLW
Newcastle Jets: DLLLD
Melbourne Victory 2-0 Newcastle Jets