Preview: Melbourne Victory v Gold Coast United
Gold Coast has been waiting for this match in order to gain some vengeance for their unlucky defeat in their first meeting in September.
Date: Saturday November 28 Kick-off: 7:00pm AEDT Venue: Etihad Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and Sky Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 774 ABC Melbourne. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com.au Head-to-head 1 A-League meetings: Melbourne Victory - 1 win
Previous Meeting Gold Coast United 2, Melbourne Victory 3, Round 8, September 2009
Past five matches: Melbourne Victory: Round 11: Newcastle Jets 1, Melbourne Victory 3, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 12: Melbourne Victory 3, Adelaide United 1, Etihad Stadium Round 13: Perth Glory 1, Melbourne Victory 2, ME Bank Stadium Round 14: Melbourne Victory 0, Central Coast Mariners 4, Etihad Stadium Round 15: Brisbane Roar 0, Melbourne Victory 1,Suncorp Stadium
Gold Coast: Round 11: Gold Coast United 2, Perth Glory 1, Skilled Park Round 12: Wellington Phoenix 6, Gold Coast United 0, Westpac Stadium Round 13: Gold Coast United 0, North Queensland 2, Skilled Park Round 14: Gold Coast 1 United, Sydney FC 0, Skilled Park Round 15: Adelaide United 1, Gold Coast United 1, Hindmarsh Stadium
Analysis: Gold Coast has been waiting for this match in order to gain some vengeance for their unlucky defeat in their first meeting in September. Currently placed third, Miron Bleiberg's team has a chance to level up with Melbourne on top of the table with a win in this match.
But that is never an easy task with Melbourne having won seven of its past nine, although both of its recent defeats have been at home. The 4-0 loss to Central Coast Mariners was of the biggest upsets in Hyundai A-League history, but the Victory responded with a tough 1-0 win over Brisbane away last week, making it six wins from seven matches on the road.
Gold Coast will be treated to a special baptism at Etihad Stadium, with the venue reconfigured with the stands brought in on all four sides to create a more intimate setting. However, Bleiberg will be more concerned about the fact his side has picked up just four points in its past four matches and that he is missing several key players for this match.
Key defenders Kristian Rees and Bas Van Den Brink are both suspended for this match, while first-choice goalkeeper Jess Vanstratten will miss with a thumb injury. They join Steve Pantelidis, Daniel Piorkowski, Robson, Jefferson and Adama Traore on the sidelines. It means that Bleiberg has only 12 senior players to pick from. He has brought Andrew Barasic, Steven Lustica, Golgol Mebrahtu, Jerrad Tyson, Ben Wearing and Steve Topalovic into an extended squad.
The difficulty for Gold Coast will be quelling Melbourne's dangerous attacking players with such an inexperienced defence. Archie Thompson and Carlos Hernandez will be relishing the prospect of tormenting a United defence with only Michael Thwaite in from its best back four.
The last time these two played, Jason Culina, who will be the Gold Coast's most important player in this match, scored an early penalty before Hernandez and Thompson both scored to make it 2-1. Joel Porter made it 2-2 before Kevin Muscat scored from a penalty in the final minutes.
Melbourne's Jekkyl and Hyde home and away form is somewhat of a mystery and their two worst home defeats in its history have come in the past three games at Etihad Stadium. But the changes Ernie Merrick made last week saw Melbourne put on a fine defensive performance against Brisbane after Thompson had slid into to head home Muscat's free kick.
The significant decision to change goalkeepers and give youngster Mitch Langerak a shot ahead of Glen Moss made a statement and the players appeared to respond to that. Nick Ward's return has also been a big positive.
Ney Fabiano, Nathan Elasi, Matthew Foschini and Surat Sukha have all been included in an extended squad, but Sukha is unlikely to play as he is still struggling with injury.
Melbourne Victory: 1.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3.Mate DUGANDZIC, 5.Surat SUKHA, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Matthew KEMP, 8.Grant BREBNER, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.NEY FABIANO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13.Nathan ELASI, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Matthew FOSCHINI, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 21.Robbie KRUSE, 22.Nick WARD, 23.Adrian LEIJER, 27.Sutee SUKSOMKIT *four to be omitted*
In: Matthew FOSCHINI (promoted), Surat SUKHA (return from injury), NEY FABIANO (promoted), Nathan ELASI (promoted)
Unavailable: Marvin ANGULO (pending registration), Billy CELESKI (knee, season), Steven PACE (calf, 1 week), Tom PONDELJAK (calf, 1 week)
Gold Coast United Squad: 20.Scott HIGGINS (gk), 3.Michael THWAITE, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Jason CULINA (c), 14.Joel PORTER, 15.Tahj MINNIECON, 17.Matt OSMAN, 18.James BROWN, 19.Andrew BARISIC, 23.Steve FITZSIMMONS, 24.ANDERSON, 25.Steven LUSTICA, 26.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 29.Zac ANDERSON, 30.Jerrad TYSON (gk), 31.Ben WEARING, 32.Steven TOPALOVIC. *three to be omitted*
In: Andrew BARISIC (promoted), Steven LUSTICA (promoted), Golgol MEBRAHTU (promoted), Jerrad TYSON [gk] (promoted), Ben WEARING (promoted), Steven TOPALOVIC (promoted)
Out: Jess VANSTRATTAN (gk) (thumb injury - 1 week), Bas VAN DEN BRINK (suspended - 1 week), Kristian REES (suspended - 1 week).
Unavailable: Steve PANTELIDIS (suspended - 1 week), Daniel PIORKOWSKI (ankle injury - indefinite), ROBSON (knee injury - 6 weeks), JEFFERSON (knee injury - indefinite), Adama TRAORE (knee injury - 2 weeks)