Melbourne Victory are flying high and on track to win the Premier's Plate. It's up to the lowly Newcastle Jets, battling only to avoid collecting the wooden spoon, to try and halt the Big V's title charge.
Friday, 10 April 2015
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 7:40 PM (Local) (7:40 PM AEST)
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Nathan COE (GK), 2.Jason GERIA, 4.Nick ANSELL, 5.Mark MILLIGAN (c), 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.Connor PAIN, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 21.Carl VALERI, 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 24.Scott GALLOWAY
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 11.Connor PAIN (promoted), 24.Scott GALLOWAY (promoted)
Unavailable: 26.Jordan BROWN (injured)
Newcastle Jets squad: 3.Taylor REGAN, 7.Enver ALIVODIC, 11.Andrew HOOLE, 12.Sam GALLAGHER, 13.Edson MONTAÑO, 16.Jacob PEPPER (c), 18.Allan WELSH, 19.Mitch COOPER, 20.Ben KENNEDY (Gk), 21.Daniel MULLEN, 22.LEE Ki-je, 26.Nicholas COWBURN, 27.Radovan PAVICEVIC, 29.Michael KANTAROVKSI, 30.John SOLARI (Gk), 31.Max BURGESS
Ins: 12.Sam GALLAGHER (promoted), 29.Michael KANTAROVSKI (promoted)
Outs: 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI (groin – 1 week), 8.Zenon CARAVELLA (ankle – indefinite)
Unavailable: 1.Jess VANSTRATTAN (Gk) (knee – indefinite), 2.Scott NEVILLE (groin – 3 weeks), 15.Joshua BARRESI (knee – season), 17.James VIRGILI (ankle – 3 weeks)
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEST), Live coverage on SBS HD & SBS One from 7.30pm AEST and Sky Sport 4 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app.
Referee: Peter O’Leary
Assistant Referee 1: Brad Hobson
Assistant Referee 2: Luke Brennan
Fourth Official: Patrick Chaplin
Fortunately football matches aren't won and lost on paper, because otherwise there'd be no point in Phil Stubbins dragging his squad all the way from the Hunter Valley to AAMI Park just to go home again empty handed.
The odds are heavily stacked in favour of the in-form hosts, who are unbeaten in their last five matches, winning three and drawing two of those.
They moved into top spot on Sunday courtesy of a convincing win away to Wellington Phoenix. Notch another triumph in front of their own fans in the opener to Round 25 and the men in navy blue and white will be three points clear, at least until Perth Glory kick off at home to Sydney FC later in the night.
There's very little empirical evidence to suggest the Jets are capable of derailing Victory's championship quest this weekend. Stubbins' side have lost four of their last five matches, with their only recent win coming at the expense of fellow strugglers Western Sydney.
They did manage a surprise 2-1 win away to the Big V in December 2013 and only lost narrowly, 1-0 to a Guilherme Finkler goal, in their previous away clash with Victory on December 27. It's not much to go on, but the Jets need all the good omens they can muster heading into this daunting fixture.
- Melbourne Victory have lost just one of their last seven A-League meetings with Newcastle Jets (W3 D3 L1).
- The Jets have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 13 A-League games against Melbourne Victory – their last coming back in September 2010.
- At home, Melbourne Victory have scored in their last 11 A-League meetings with Newcastle Jets.
- Newcastle Jets have collected just two wins and 14 points all season; fewer than any other A-League side.
ROUTE TO GOAL
There's an aspect of Victory's much-vaunted frontline which has gone unnoticed this season, despite their five star forwards receiving glowing praise from all quarters.
New Zealand's Kosta Barbarouses is the only one of the quintet regularly lost to international duty, leaving his understudy, Archie Thompson, to slot in seamlessly alongside Finkler, Besart Berisha and Fahid Ben Khalfallah.
While the likes of Sydney FC lose Marc Janko to Austria and Nathan Burns departs the Phoenix for the Socceroos duty, Victory's strikeforce has enjoyed minimal disruption, yet another reason they're sitting pretty at the top of the 'goal for' column.
As for the Jets, we're 24 rounds into the season they're still searching for a route to goal. Mid-season reinforcements Enver Alivodic and Lee Ki-Je hit the back of the net in that away win over the Wanderers. Either side of that Newcastle have troubled the opposition goal five matches.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Victory midfielder Carl Valeri was on media duty this week, warning his team-mates not to look far ahead of the regular season nears its dramatic conclusion. A home match against a struggling side with nothing to play for has 'banana skin' written all over it. The Big V faithful will be hoping the players heeded the advice of the experienced midfielder.