Preview: Brisbane Roar v Newcastle Jets

Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets will meet in Round 11 of the 2013-14 A-League season at Suncorp Stadium on Friday December 20 at 8pm.

Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets will meet in Round 11 of the 2013-14 A-League season at Suncorp Stadium on Friday December 20 at 8pm.


Past five matches: Roar: WWWWL Jets: LWLWW

The Game:

Brisbane were leading 1-0 and looking comfortable away to the Jets in Round 6, before the heavy rain and Adam Taggart's brilliance saw them suffer what remains just their second defeat of the season. Errors by skipper Matt Smith and James Donachie at centre-back have not been repeated since in an orange shirt, as the Roar have bounced back to win their last four. They will be confident of making it five on Friday. The Jets meanwhile suffered a 1-0 loss at home to Western Sydney, and will be hard pressed to respond away to the league leaders.

The big issue:

Roar – Have the Roar's young guns cemented themselves as first choice? It's easy to forget Brisbane have been without Shane Stefanutto for weeks now, while Jade North has been in and out of the team through injury. Liam Miller has spent time on the sidelines, and even previously ever-present goalkeeper Michael Theo missed some action. But apart from that surprise loss in Newcastle last month, the Roar have barely even blinked in their absence, with the likes of Corey Brown, James Donachie, Matt Acton and Jack Hingert shining. When the old pro's are fit again, they could have a hard time getting back in the team.

Jets – The availability of Nathan Burns. The on-loan forward finally got the reward for his good early season form away to Melbourne Victory in Round 9, scoring both of his team's goals in a 2-1 win. He was then unexpectedly ruled out for the home game against Western Sydney on Saturday, and the Jets suffered in the final third, lacking his efficient ball use and penetration. Burns told Fox Sports during the game he was hopeful of recovering to face the Roar this weekend, and Newcastle will certainly want that to be the case.

The game breaker:

Ivan Franjic - Pushed from right-back into a box-to-box midfield role, Franjic has wowed us so far in 2013-14, demonstrating a remarkable work-rate, influencing the play and weighing in with some tremendous goals, the latest arriving in the form of the winner against Wellington on Saturday. Rewarded with a call up to Ange Postecoglou's first Socceroos squad, the 26-year-old is now capable of becoming a regular international, and could be the subject of interest from overseas before too long. The Jets have to keep him quiet to have a chance, but that's easier said than done, particularly given his capacity to drift between the lines.