Preview: Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Victory

If you use the last match between these teams as a guide, you can expect this to be a tight affair as Newcastle tend to match up well against reigning premiers Melbourne.

Date: Sunday October 18

Kick-off: 3:00 pm AEST Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium, Newcastle

TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 1 and Sky Sports 1. To purchase tickets visit www.proticket.com.au

Head-to-head 13 Hyundai A-League meetings: Wins - Newcastle 7, Melbourne 3, Draws - 3

Last meeting Melbourne Victory 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Round 5, September 2009

Past five matches: Newcastle Jets: Round 5: Melbourne Victory 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Etihad Stadium Round 6: Newcastle Jets 0, Brisbane Roar 3, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 7: Sydney FC 2, Newcastle Jets 1, Sydney Football Stadium Round 8: Newcastle Jets 0, Perth Glory 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 9: Adelaide United 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Hindmarsh Stadium

Melbourne Victory: Round 6: Melbourne Victory 1, Wellington Phoenix 1, Etihad Stadium Round 7: Adelaide United 0, Melbourne Victory 2, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 8: Gold Coast United 2, Melbourne Victory 3, Skilled Park Round 9: Melbourne Victory 2, Brisbane Roar 1, Etihad Stadium Round 10: Melbourne Victory 0, Sydney FC 3, Etihad Stadium

Analysis: Newcastle resumes its Hyundai A-League season against Melbourne, having taken a week off following its 1-1 draw with Adelaide in Round 9. With the Round 10 clash against Wellington deferred until November, Branko Culina has had plenty of time to think about continuing the Jets' recent strong record over Melbourne.

But that's ancient history for the Jets coach, who will be more worried about the fact his team hasn-t won any of its past five matches. While the Round 4 win over Gold Coast and Round 5 draw with Melbourne had things looking positive, three successive loses against Brisbane, Sydney and Perth took a lot of the momentum from the Jets' season.

A much-improved performance in Adelaide followed, and it took a freak goal from Cassio for the Reds to rescue a point. Former Leeds and Sydney striker Michael Bridges made his debut in that match and combined well up front with his new team-mates. The 31-year old will be a valuable addition to a squad that is desperate to find some consistency.

Newcastle has had 13 days to prepare for this clash, but that's not been enough time for Ljubo Milicevic, with the defender to miss the next two matches with a heel injury. He joins Shaun Ontong and Marko Jesic, who are both out indefinitely, in the medical room.

The previous time these teams met, Melbourne looked firmly in control of the game after Archie Thompson's first-half goal, before Labinot Haliti bobbed up with five minutes remaining to head home Tarek Elrich's cross.

Melbourne has a very poor record against the Jets having won only one of its past nine against them, while the Victory have particularly struggled at EnergyAustralia Stadium having not won there since 2006. Since that 2-0 success, Melbourne has twice had four goals put past it at this stadium, and has conceded 11 and scored just four in those four matches.

Again, that's the distant past for Ernie Merrick, who will be more concerned about the fact his team conceded three goals in four minutes to be easily beaten by Sydney last week. Things looked on an upward curve for the defending champions after three consecutive wins, but the Sky Blues handed them a reality check of major proportions.

Melbourne's defence was pulled apart at the seams in that match, with Sydney using its speed and strength to stretch Melbourne, allowing Mark Bridge and Alex Brosque to use the space created to create chances. While Melbourne rallied in the second half, it was unable to hit the back of the net.

The Victory has lost one of its attacking players, Robbie Kruse, for three weeks with a hamstring injury, joining Nick Ward, Billy Celeski, Steven Pace and Mathew Theodore on the sidelines. Melbourne has called three youth players into an extended squad, Matthew Foschini, Nathan Elasi and Mate Dugandzic.

Tom Pondeljak should be ready to resume starting duties after a few weeks battling with a sore back, meaning a place should open up on the bench for either Elasi or Dugandzic. Melbourne's two new international signings, Marvin Angulo and Sutee Suksomkit, have not yet cleared their paperwork.

If you use the last match between these two teams as a guide, you can expect this to be a game of few chances. Newcastle tend to match up well on Melbourne and that means the Victory are sometimes more reticent to push forward in their usual way. The difference this time around could prove to be Carlos Hernandez, who missed that Round 5 clash through international commitments and the fact the Jets are missing their most influential defender in Milicevic.

Newcastle Jets squad: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2. Angelo COSTANZO, 3. Adam D-APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 6. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 7. Jin-Hyung SONG, 8. Matt THOMPSON (c), 9. Sasho PETROVSKI, 10. Donny DE GROOT, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 14. Michael BRIDGES, 15. Sean ROONEY, 16. Jason HOFFMAN, 17. Fabio VIGNAROLI, 19. Jason NAIDOVSKI, 20. Neil YOUNG (gk), 22. Kaz PATAFTA, 25. Labinot HALITI, 26. Ali ABBAS *five to be omitted*

In: Ben KANTAROVSKI (returns from international duty), Sean ROONEY (returns from international duty), Jason HOFFMAN (returns from international duty)

Out: Ljubo MILICEVIC (heel 1-2 weeks)

Unavailable: Shaun ONTONG (Achilles - indefinite), Marko JESIC (knee - indefinite)

Melbourne Victory squad: 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, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Matthew FOSCHINI, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 23.Adrian LEIJER *two to be omitted*

In: Nathan ELASI (promoted), Matthew FOSCHINI (promoted), Mate DUGANDZIC (promoted)

Out: Robbie KRUSE (hamstring, 3 weeks)

Unavailable: Billy CELESKI (knee - season), Steven PACE (calf - 2 weeks), Mathew THEODORE (glute - 1 week), Nick WARD (infection - indefinite)