Preview: Melbourne Heart v Melbourne Victory

Melbourne Heart host Melbourne Victory in Round 11 of the 2013-14 A-League season at AAMI Park on Saturday December 21 at 7.45pm AEDT.

Melbourne Heart host Melbourne Victory in Round 11 of the 2013-14 A-League season at AAMI Park on Saturday December 21 at 7.45pm AEDT.

Head-to-head:

Played: 10, Wins: Heart 3, Victory 3, Draws: 4

Previous encounter:

Victory 0-0 Heart, October 12 2013

Form:

Past five matches: Heart: LDDLL Victory: WLDWL

The Game:

Derbies are rarely one-sided affairs and despite Melbourne Heart's bottom-of-the-table status, the Victory will be expecting a testing and feisty encounter on Saturday night. The Heart looked promising in keeping a clean sheet in round one, but their form has been woeful since as the pressure on coach John Aloisi has increased. Under Aloisi, the Heart have won just eight of 37 games, including none in 10 this season. Kevin Muscat is coaching in a Melbourne Derby for the first time after taking over from Australia boss Ange Postecoglou. His Victory team create more than enough chances and should expect to take all three points.

The big issue:

Heart – easing the pressure on under-fire coach Aloisi. The former Socceroo's record at the helm has been poor with just 21.6 per cent of those matches finishing in Heart wins. A good performance and a draw might be enough, but a victory is what the Heart desperately need. Heart chief Scott Munn refused to guarantee Aloisi his future in the lead up to the clash and his team need to start performing far better than they have so far this campaign. They have the league's worst attack and defence heading into the encounter.

Victory – converting their dominance of possession into goals like they did – just – against Perth on Friday night. Muscat's men had a season-high 23 shots in their 2-0 win over the Glory, bettering the mark of 21 they set the week prior. Opta stats suggest the Victory have created the most 'big chances' in the league this season, but their conversion ranks seventh. Those numbers suggest there is plenty of room for improvement in the Victory and if they do start making the most of their opportunities, they could seriously threaten the competition's top sides.

The game breaker:

Mitch Nichols – the attacking midfielder has enjoyed a solid campaign playing as one of the two number 10s in the Victory's system. James Troisi has contributed more goals, but Nichols leads the Victory for assists this campaign with three. The former Brisbane Roar attacker can break games open with his movement and clever passes and can, if the Heart midfield and defence offer him too much space, prove a major factor in the derby.