Melbourne will be out to beat Perth for the first time since 2010 when the two sides clash at AAMI Park on Friday.
Date: Friday 30 November, 2012 Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT, 7.30pm local Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Head-to-head: Played: 21, Wins: Melbourne Victory 7, Perth Glory 9, Draws: 5
Previous encounter: Perth Glory 4, Melbourne Victory 2, 24 March 2012
Form: Past five matches: Melbourne Victory: WDWWL Perth Glory: DLDWL
The Game Melbourne Victory will look to continue their unbeaten run, with wins over the Western Sydney Wanderers, Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix and a draw with the Central Coast Mariners in their past four matches lifting them to third on the ladder.
Victory accounted for the Wanderers 2-0 in Parramatta last weekend, despite the dismissal of Sam Gallagher just 16 minutes into the match. Ange Postecoglou's men are six points behind league leaders Adelaide United, who meet the second-placed Mariners in a blockbuster clash on Saturday.
Perth Glory looked the better of the two teams against Wellington but failed to capitalise on their chances in a 1-1 draw at nib Stadium last weekend. Glory are fifth but could slip as low as eighth if beaten in the first of two consecutive games at AAMI Park against the two Melbourne teams.
Both sides have been hampered by international commitments for the fixture, with Scott Jamieson and Michael Thwaite for Perth and Archie Thompson and Mark Milligan for Victory selected for Australia's East Asia Cup qualifiers in Hong Kong. But Glory have been dealt an added blow, with captain Jacob Burns suspended for picking up his fifth yellow card, while Victory playmaker Marcos Flores will return from suspension.
The big issue
Melbourne Victory - Victory can establish themselves as genuine title threats on their return to AAMI Park. The dual champions and premiers, who played their opening four home games at Etihad Stadium, have been a resurgent force over the past month under Postecoglou, who calmly guided his charges up the table following a sluggish start to the season. A win over Perth, without Thompson, Milligan or the suspended Gallagher, would certainly make the rest of the competition take notice, if they haven't already.
Perth Glory - Glory desperately need to pick up points on the road. Perth, five points above bottom-placed Sydney, have claimed just a solitary point from three matches away from home this campaign. In contrast, Glory won five of their past eight away matches last season before going down to Brisbane Roar in a thrilling grand final at Suncorp Stadium.
Billy Celeski - The resilient midfielder was one of Victory's best against the Wanderers and has established himself as a key to the club's success this year. Celeski, who managed just 10 appearances last season due in part to injuries and suspension, has played all but one match this season and is nearing a return to the form that earned him a Socceroos debut in 2009.
Prediction: Melbourne Victory 3, Perth Glory 0
Victory are full of confidence after defying the odds against Western Sydney and already the Victory faithful are talking finals as Postecoglou continues to drive the transformation of the side that finished eighth on the ladder last season.
Glory coach Ian Ferguson questioned the consistency of his side after they had seven more shots than Phoenix but failed to secure the three points. Ferguson wants quicker delivery up front to the likes of Shane Smeltz and Billy Mehmet, who have been starved of direct passes in recent weeks.
History suggests this clash is likely to feature more than one goal. The teams have played out just one scoreless draw since they first met in 2005, with a whopping 76 goals produced in 21 contests.
Last season's three meetings alone generated 15 goals and while Victory have not beaten Perth since 2010, we expect the home side to make amends and maintain the pressure on frontrunners Adelaide and the Mariners.