Preview: Melbourne Heart v Melbourne Victory

The importance of this match in terms of both sides' seasons can not be underestimated.

Date: Saturday February 4 Kick-off: 7.45pm AEDT Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne

Head-to-head Played 5: Wins: Heart 2, Victory 1, Draws: 2

Previous encounter Melbourne Heart 3, Melbourne Victory 2, AAMI Park, December 2011

History: The Melbourne derby has added significance this time around with both sides absolutely desperate for a win. Heart hold the bragging rights in this contest having only lost to Victory once in five encounters, that being a 3-1 win to Victory in December 2010.

Since then they have played a 2-2 draw last January - a match infamous for Kevin Muscat's tackle on Adrian Zahra - a 0-0 draw earlier this season and Heart's 3-2 win at AAMI Park in December, where they prevailed thanks to two goals from Matt Thompson and another from Alex Terra.

Form: Past five matches: Melbourne Heart: LDLLD Melbourne Victory: DDLDW

Summary of form: The Victorian teams have endured a torrid start to 2012, with just one win in total for the combined past 12 matches between them. Heart have slipped down the table to fifth after four losses in two draws since their most recent win, while Victory are eighth after three draws and a loss in the past four.

Victory have suffered last-minute equalisers in their past two matches against Sydney and Gold Coast with both goals scored by defenders who previously played for the club.

Match Committee: Heart have lost Matt Thompson (knee) for a month in a massive blow ahead of this match. Fred is unlikely to be rushed back from his groin injury.

Heart are also without Australian Under 23 trio Aziz Behich, Mate Dugandzic and Jason Hoffman meaning there are some big decisions to be made at the selection table. Paul Reid is likely to make his debut in the midfield.

There are plenty of worries at Victory with both Adrian Leijer and Harry Kewell struggling with shoulder injuries during Wednesday's game in Launceston.

Those are added to the fact that Isaka Cernak. Matt Foschini and Diogo Ferreira are on U23 duties and the club is facing a real concern, especially in midfield. Carlos Hernandez could be set for a return to the starting line-up after sitting out midweek.

Danger men: Alex Terra- Terra is one of the most dangerous players in the A-League when fit and Victory will do well to keep an eye on him, regardless of how he is used. He will be the only player on the field on Saturday who has scored for Heart in a Melbourne derby.

Harry Kewell- Kewell described Victory's recent efforts as disgusting after their draw with Gold Coast but you can't put the blame on him for those efforts. His form in terms of supplying and scoring goals in recent weeks has been very strong and he is the man to watch for Victory.

At the end of the day… The importance of this match in terms of both sides' seasons cannot be underestimated. Both are desperate for a win to ignite their season, with Victory's challenge for the finals hinging on them getting the three points here.

Despite the unfortunate circumstances late in both their past two matches, Victory are still playing well below expectations. They are getting bossed in the midfield in every match they play in and that is putting their defence under severe pressure. As a result, they haven't kept a clean sheet since early November, a run of 13 games. Interestingly, they have also scored in 12 of those 13 games.

Changes in personnel, both on and off field, haven't helped in terms of organisation and they look for from the team which was lauded for its settled look in seasons past.

Magilton is trying to get them to play 'his' football, but it its taking him a lot more time than he would have hoped, and he isn't being helped by injury, unavailability and squad instability.

John van 't Schip has faced similar problems and has arguably lost three of his most important players for a month just when his side can least afford it. Added to that his most talented, in Fred, and most versatile in Thompson, are both injured, leaving his midfield to look very undermanned.

So, it is a derby without midfields, meaning it could make for some end-to-end action, especially with so much to play for.

The timing of Van 't Schip's announcement that he is set to leave at the end of the season could also have a bearing on the sentiment Heart take into the match. He thinks it could act as a positive, but with a sense of the downward spiral hovering voer their finals aspirations, it could have the opposite effect.

Heart's best XI would beat Victory's best XI, but neither will be on show here. Given Victory's penchant for snatching a point when three is on offer, the draw would seem the most likely outcome.