Preview: Melbourne Victory FC vs Newcastle Jets

Back To Our Best! Ernie Merrick’s walking wounded aim to make it three wins on the spin

Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets Monday 27th December 6:00pm Back To Our Best! Ernie Merrick-s walking wounded aim to make it three wins on the spin as ladder rivals Newcastle come to town.

They-ll be plenty of Christmas cheer in the blue half of Melbourne this year. After an inconsistent first few months of their Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season, they have won two in a row, played really well in doing so, and have put themselves in a good position to secure one of the top six spots.

Their 2-0 win over Perth Glory saw them leapfrog this weekend-s opponents into fifth spot. Another good result this weekend would further cement their place in the pack bidding to be part of the Grand Finals excitement. However, if Victory are to pick up a hat-trick of wins, they might be relying on some fringe players to achieve it for them.

In keeping with a season in which nothing has been easy for Ernie Merrick, his side-s recent upturn in results has coincided with injuries to yet more crucial players. In the comfortable win over Glory, Archie Thompson and Matthew Kemp limped from the pitch.

Thompson, who had just put his side ahead, left the field with hamstring trouble after Kemp had already departed with a groin injury. The two key players join Ricardinho and legendary front man Carlos Hernandez in the treatment room.

It will be a race to get at least some of them fit, with Hernandez looking good to recover in time, while the two recent casualties will be assessed closer to the day of the game. Ricardinho is expected to need a little more time.

Victory-s opponents certainly won-t be giving them any sympathy for their current injury woes, as they are suffering as well. After a club record run of seven games without defeat had lifted them from the mire and into a top six place, Branko Culina-s injury and suspension-ravaged side finally hit the buffers with a 4-0 Christmas stuffing at the hands of Wellington Phoenix.

Minus Ben Kantarovski, Ruben Zadkovich, Ljubo Milicevic and Kasey Wehrman, Jets were no match for the home side. The loss was in stark contrast to their previous two results. A pair of 2-0 wins against Melbourne Heart and high-flying Gold Coast United were achieved despite being down to ten men on each occasion. Victory should take note: their opponents this weekend need to be treated with the utmost respect.

The two sides have met once this season and couldn-t be separated on that occasion, so this one is sure to be a close game. History suggests Jets have the upper hand. Of the 15 occasions that the two teams have met, Newcastle have won eight times to Melbourne-s four, and have triumphed three times out of seven in Victoria. Another win over the Melbourne side would see them jump back over them in the ladder.

Can Jets maintain their slight superiority over Victory, or will the home side make it three wins out of three? With both teams in good form, it-s going to be a really belting match-up. Be a part of another huge crowd at AAMI Park and help make it a Merry Christmas for your team. Sing to win!

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