With five straight wins in their kit bag, second-placed Heart can quite rightly say they're the competition's form team heading into a big Wednesday of football action.
Date: Wednesday, 4 January 2011 Kick-off: 3:15pm (AEDT) Venue: AAMI Park
Head-to-head Played 4: Wins: Melbourne Heart 1, Adelaide United 2, Draws: 1
Previous encounter Adelaide United 1 Melbourne Heart 1, Hindmarsh Stadium, November 2011
History: Although it's only a short history there have been several dramatic clashes between these sides. Their first contest last season saw Ian Ramsey score an 88th-minute goal to give the Reds a 3-2 victory, while their last clash in 2010-11, saw veterans Simon Colosimo and John Aloisi both score goals in the last two minutes to secure a dramatic 2-1 come-from-behind victory for the Melbourne side.
Earlier this season, Spase Dilevski scored the equaliser as Heart and Adelaide drew 1-1. How times have changed, though. At that stage Heart were looking for their first win of the campaign, but since that result, they have won seven of their next eight games, their only loss coming in controversial circumstances at ladder leaders Central Coast.
Form: Past five matches: Melbourne Heart: WWWWW Adelaide United: LDLDW
Match Committee: Melbourne Heart coach John van 't Schip will have to find a replacement for skipper Fred, who suffered a groin injury during the club's 4-0 thrashing of Sydney FC last weekend. The coach, however, is adamant Fred's injury isn't as bad as first thought and he may be available for Sunday's clash with Gold Coast.
Holding midfielder Wayne Srhoj (quad) and the exciting Germano (hamstring) are also unavailable, meaning van 't Schip may have to use either Brendan Hamill or Michael Marrone in midfield roles, as he did against the Sky Blues.
For Adelaide, coach John Kosmina may be missing the services of Spase Dilevski, who injured his groin against Wellington Phoenix last Friday night. Kosmina will also be hoping striker Sergio van Dijk has overcome the embarrassing stomach bug that saw him make an unplanned trip to the throne room during last week's 2-0 win.
Danger men: Adrian Madaschi - The Heart central defender trained with Victory during the off-season but when he wasn't offered a contract there, he moved across town to join van 't Schip's men as an injury replacement. Although he struggled a little during his initial few matches, Madaschi's become an integral part of Heart's defence and the club may miss him greatly if he leaves at the conclusion of injury-replacement contract.
Dario Vidosic - The Reds marquee man produced a belter of a performance against Wellington the other night. Perhaps inspired by John Kosmina's criticism of the entire squad during the new coach's first few days back at the Adelaide helm, Vidosic responded with a towering display as he set up both of Adelaide's goals against Wellington with some incisive passing.
At the end of the day… With five straight wins in their kit bag, second-placed Heart can quite rightly say they're the competition's form team heading into a big Wednesday of football action. But whether they're also due for a loss remains to be seen as Adelaide look to build on last week's first victory under prodigal coach Kosmina.
Having demoted captain John McKain, Kosmina has sent out a blazing message that mediocre performances won't be tolerated at Adelaide anymore this season. But can the fired-up Reds overcome a young Heart side that's particularly well-drilled by tactician van 't Schip.
In the last two matches, the Heart coach hasn't been afraid to swing some major tactical changes midway through a game, reverting from a three-man to four-man defence in the 3-2 derby win over Victory and doing the exact opposite in last Thursday's 4-0 hammering of Sydney.
Heart will be hurting from losing Fred for this encounter, but their impressive midfield defensive press should prevent Adelaide and specifically Vidosic, from getting the time on the ball he enjoyed last week against Wellington. If Heart can starve the Reds strike force of Bruce Djite and van Dijk, the Melbourne side has some serious strikers of their own, capable of producing a sixth straight win. Expect this one to be an entertaining affair!