Preview: Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Victory

Newcastle are the only team who boast a winning record over Melbourne Victory in their head-to-head match ups and that has been built on an imposing record at their home ground.

Date: Saturday December 3 Kick-off: 7:30pm AEDT Venue: Ausgrid Stadium, Newcastle

Head-to-head Played 18: Wins: Newcastle Jets 8, Melbourne Victory 6, Drawn: 4

Previous encounter Melbourne Victory 2, Newcastle Jets 0, AAMI Park, February 2011

History: Newcastle are the only team who boast a winning record over Melbourne Victory in their head-to-head match ups and that has been built on an imposing record at their home ground.

The Jets have only lost there twice, in 2009 and 2006, while the Jets have been successful in five of the nine matches at this ground. However, they met each other three times last year with two Melbourne Victory home wins and a draw in Newcastle.

Form: Newcastle Jets: LWLLD Melbourne Victory: WDDDW

Form Summary: The Jets have been very up and down this season and have just one win in their past five matches. They at least broke a long run of poor away results by holding on for a point against 10-man Adelaide United last week. That was their first draw of the season and they now sit in fifth, just one point from third.

Victory's form this season has drawn plenty of criticism, but the fact remains, they have lost just once for the campaign. They are unbeaten in six matches and sit third on the table. Their latest win came in characteristically tough fashion, leading 2-0, then having Rody Vargas sent off and seeing Gold Coast draw level at 2-2. But they managed a late winner through Carlos Hernandez.

Match Committee: There are doubts over a couple of the Jets most important players heading into this with Francis Jeffers and Ryan Griffiths both pulling out of a training session early in the week. Kasey Wehrman and Jobe Wheelhouse are both on modified programs.

Ben Kennedy should be ready after missing last week through concussion, although Matt Nash made a good fist of it against the Reds. Ali Abbas will be considered for inclusion as will Ben Kantarovski, who returns from national duty.

Victory are getting a few injured players back available for selection with Jean Carlos Solorzano available and Grant Brebner likely to come back into the starting line-up after his sub's appearance last week. Queries remain over Danny Allsopp and Matthew Kemp, while Fabio (ankle) will play. Rody Vargas is suspended and is likely to be replaced by Petar Franjic.

Danger men: Ryan Griffiths - Griffiths remains the man to watch for the Jets, scoring three of the eight goals so far this season. So long as he comes into this match fully fit than Victory will have their hands full.

Archie Thompson - Every week Thompson features in this section because he is the reason why Victory are third on the table. Of Victory's nine goals this season he has scored three, won the penalty for three others and set up the winner last week.

At the end of the day… Victory deserve to start favourites in this match on current form, but their poor record in Newcastle is a concern for them.

There is something about Ausgrid Stadium which sees them play poor football and Mehmet Durakovic, who saw much of the pressure on him relieved thanks to Hernandez's late heroics last week, will be wary of this being a speedbump on their way back up the table.

While Harry Kewell would have benefitted from his run last week and Hernandez is starting to get back into consistent form, the key remains Thompson's ability to find space and create havoc for the Jets' defence.

But the Jets back four have been pretty solid this season, especially last week when they allowed Adelaide just two shots on target.

Newcastle's home form has been very good, with their only loss this campaign coming against the rampaging Brisbane Roar, where they led at half time but were overrun. They appear a more consistent and organised outfit on their home ground.

They rely on fast starts and six of their seven home goals this season have come inside the first 45. Coach Gary van Egmond will intend to use width to create chances, much the same way many other teams have done this year against Melbourne and it will be interesting to see how Victory counter that.

The visitors' defensive shuffle will open some opportunities for Newcastle to score, but Victory appear to have overcome their early season malaise and could get a valuable three points here.

Teams: TBC