Preview: Melbourne Heart v Adelaide United

Melbourne were denied a third straight win by Sydney FC last Sunday, but the bitter defeat could sting them later in the season.

Date: Friday January 18, 2013 Kick-off: 7.30pm ADST Venue: AAMI Park

Head-to-head Played: 7 Wins: Melbourne Heart 1, Adelaide United 4, Draws: 2

Previous encounter Adelaide 1, Heart 0, November 17, 2012

Form: Past five matches: Heart: LLWWL Adelaide: LLWDW

The Game Melbourne Heart were denied a third straight win in sensational fashion by Sydney FC last Sunday, but the bitter defeat could sting them later in the season.

A win would have lifted John Aloisi's side into the top six for the first time since October but instead goals from Sydney skipper Brett Emerton and Rhyan Grant stole the three points from Melbourne's grasp.

The win was hardly deserved for Sydney, and but for an Alessandro Del Piero slice of quality with the delivery to Grant, Heart would have left Allianz Stadium with a point.

Aloisi will take heart from the fact that his side dominated possession and controlled the play. Captain Fred was particularly instrumental and played a hand in Richard Garcia's goal.

If they can translate that form back to Melbourne, where they have performed well of late, than even in-form Adelaide will find a win hard to come by.

However, the Reds have won four of the seven clashes between the sides - including two draws - and came out on top in November.

Adelaide nearly let a three-goal lead slip in a 3-2 win over Perth Glory at Hindmarsh Stadium, but denied the Glory despite the visitors scoring two goals in the last minute.

The Big Issue Melbourne Heart: The Heart need to keep winning at home if they want to play finals in 2013. Back-to-back wins over Newcastle and Brisbane at AAMI Park revived Heart's season but their dismal away form continues to be a major cause for concern.

Heart have won only once on the road, in their opening fixture of the season at Etihad Stadium against city rivals Melbourne Victory.

Adelaide United: With striker Sergio Van Dijk set to be released by the club and looking at a move to Indonesia, a groin injury to Bruce Djite may change coach John Kosmina's plans. Djite came off early on against Perth and was replaced by Jeronimo Neumann, who went on to bag a brace.

But with the 25-year-old set to miss weeks, Van Dijk's move may be put on hold. The Dutchman was Adelaide's leading scorer last season but has featured in only three games this season due to Djite's fine form and the arrival of Argentine Neumann.

Gamebreaker Croatian Josip Tadic has scored in both of Heart's past two home games and leads the club with five goals for the season. The 25-year-old finds himself in dangerous positions in the box and if he receives the kind of service he has been from the likes of Fred, Garcia and Aziz Behich then he will add to that tally on Friday.

Prediction: Melbourne Heart 1, Adelaide United 1 This should be a great clash between two sides in strong form. The loss of Djite will really hurt the Reds as he is central to their counterattacking play with his ability to hold the ball up, particularly away from home.

Attacker David Williams is back in the selection frame for the home side having served his one-match ban for his lunging tackle against the Birsbane Roar.

The Heart have improved markedly since the return of Socceroos Garcia and Behich and will look to press their home advantage. Adelaide are unbeaten in three and have closed within two points of ladder leaders Central Coast, while the Heart will likely move into the top six with a win, but expect a score draw.