Preview: Melbourne Victory v Newcastle

Victory have always struggled against the Jets even in the seasons where they have been champions.

Date: Saturday March 4 Kick-off: 5.30pm AEDT Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne

Head-to-head Played 20: Wins: Victory 9, Jets 7, Draws: 4

Previous encounter Melbourne Victory 2 Newcastle Jets 1, AAMI Park, January 2012

History: Victory have always struggled against the Jets even in the seasons where they have been champions. In all they have lost nine of the 20 games against them, their equal worst record against any team. The Jets have lost on their last three trips to Melbourne to play Victory but did beat them 3-1 in Newcastle in December. Victory turned the tables in Kevin Muscat's only game in charge in January.

Form: Past five matches: Melbourne Victory: DLWDD Newcastle Jets: WLWWW

Summary of form: The draw with Gold Coast last week, a record 11th draw of the season for Victory, could prove the final straw in their chase for the finals. One point from their past two games means they are five points out of the six with four games remaining.

The Jets' run of four wins in five games has seen them state a strong case for a spot in the post-season action. Their only recent defeat came away to Perth a couple of weeks back, but either side of that match they defeated Melbourne Heart and Adelaide United.

Match Committee: Victory will be without captain Adrian Leijer (hip) for the remainder of the season in a big blow for their finals aspirations. Grant Brebner (ankle) and Fabio (groin) remain sidelined, but apart from that Jim Magilton has a pretty strong squad to pick from assuming, Milligan, Kewell and Thompson get over their Socceroos commitments during the week and Danny Allsopp recovers from a groin strain.

The Jets could get back Jobe Wheelhouse this week and otherwise have close to a full squad to choose from.

Danger men: Harry Kewell - Anyone who watched Kewell cut apart Saudi Arabia on Wednesday can attest that he still has what it takes to play some brilliant football. His form in recent weeks at club level has been good, but if he can find the touch he showed for the Socceroos, then he could take things to an even higher level in the final weeks of the season.

Tarek Elrich - Bolstered by his first goal in over three years, Elrich will be keen to continue his successful run this week. Some of his role will be to mind Kewell but he will also look to press forward and create attacking pressure from out wide.

At the end of the day… The form book tells you the Jets should go into this match as favourites. They have won four of their past five to re-invigorate their season and are playing well both in defence and attack. They boast versatility in going forward with seven goalscorers in the past nine goals, with Jeremy Brockie the only multiple in that period with three.

Gary van Egmond has also shown versatility in defence, looking to go three at the back on occasions while the return of Ben Kantarovski, who was in fine touch in his first match back, could prove an important addition in the run to the finals.

Their recent record against Victory in Melbourne is not good, but there wasn't much luck in their defeat in January with Sung Hwan Byun achieving the rare but unwanted feat of scoring a brace of own goals.

They face an increasingly desperate Victory side, who were foiled by wet conditions and determined Gold Coast rearguard last week. Melbourne are playing some good football on occasions, but there seems an inevitable sense that they are unable to maintain pressure on goal for a long enough side to break through when needed.

The parts are there, with Kewell and Hernandez in good form, but the fact remains the defence and attack are disconnected, even more so in Adrian Leijer's absence.

We've been waiting all season to see Victory finally put it all together and put in 90 minutes of dominant football, and you get the feeling that expectation won't be met.

They are clearly good enough to win this, but the Jets' determination and organisation will be tough to break down. They will be probably be happy with a draw and given Victory's priors in this campaign, that will be what they get.