Preview: Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC

Sydney and Newcastle have the opportunity to turn around horror form slumps in the extended F3 Derby but may end up cancelling each other out in what could be one of the tensest clashes of the season.

Date: Sunday December 7 Kick-off: 5:00pm local Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1 and Sky Sport 2. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is 1233 ABC (Newcastle) and. To purchase tickets visit www.proticket.com.au

Head-to-head 12 Hyundai A-League meetings: Newcastle - 2 wins, Sydney - 5 wins, Draws - 5

Previous meeting

Past Five Games Newcastle Jets: Round 9: Central Coast Mariners 1, Newcastle 0, Bluetongue Stadium Round 10: Newcastle Jets 1, Queensland Roar 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 11: Perth Glory 2, Newcastle Jets 2, Members Equity Stadium Round 12: Wellington Phoenix 2, Newcastle Jets 0, Westpac Stadium Round 13: Newcastle Jets 1, Adelaide United 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium

Sydney FC: Round 9: Melbourne Victory 0, Sydney FC 2, Telstra Dome Round 10: Sydney FC 3, Central Coast Mariners 3, Sydney Football Stadium Round 11: Sydney FC 1, Wellington Phoenix 2, Sydney Football Stadium Round 12: Adelaide United 2, Sydney FC 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 13: Sydney FC 1, Queensland Roar 1, Sydney Football Stadium

Analysis Sydney and Newcastle have the opportunity to turn around horror form slumps in the extended F3 Derby but may end up cancelling each other out in what could be one of the tensest clashes of the season.

The form line for Sydney coach John Kosmina and Newcastle's Gary van Egmond isn't good, both sides having claimed just one victory from the last eight matches. However the coaches will be looking at this match as a chance to kick start a run to the finals, now just eight games away.

Sitting in seventh on 12 points, the Jets have lots to do if they're to defend last year's title. With six points between them and fourth position, a win in this clash is vital to keep pace with the top four as victories by Queensland (third, 19 points), Central Coast (fourth, 18 points) or Wellington (fifth, 18 points) could open up a nine-point gap, which would be all but impossible to close with seven games remaining.

This match appears to be a case of who blinks first in defence. Both teams have very capable defenders, although Newcastle's back four, despite conceding four goals more across the whole season, appears slightly stronger as Adam Griffiths and Jade North form a very effective partnership in central defence. Since conceding nine goals in the first three matches, the Jets have only shipped 12 in the last 10 games, although one of those was Sasa Ognenovski's heartbreaking 94th minute equaliser in the club's 1-1 draw with Adelaide last week.

The Sky Blues' defence, then, may not have the same solidity about it since former skipper Tony Popovic's untimely retirement but the Jets may not have the forward power to exploit this. Last season's competition top goal scorer, Joel Griffiths, still has one match to serve of a suspension earned at Wellington in Round 12 and he's joined in the stands by former Sydney player Mark Milligan, who also has one match of his ban remaining. The Jets are also without the dangerous Jin-Hyung Song for another match with an ankle injury, leaving their forward division particularly threadbare, although Qantas Young Socceroos Marko Jesic is certain to test Sydney's back four with his pace.

Sydney on the other hand is still struggling to overcome a poor run with injury. Brendon Santalab, so often the creator of mercurial goals, is five weeks from resuming with a shoulder injury while Terry McFlynn (knee, 5 weeks) and Simon Colosimo (groin, three weeks) will be fortunate to make it back before finals. This leaves Kosmina relying on a mixture of youth and experience to fire his side.

The experience comes from veteran Dutchman Bobby Petta and star striker John Aloisi. If ever there was a time for Aloisi to fire, it's now. His side's been desperately short of goals since the Round 5 3-0 victory over Adelaide but the former Socceroo is a proven big stage performer and this will be about as big as it gets for Sydney's faltering finals' chances. But Aloisi may also be supported by the crafty Anthony Golec and Brendan Gan in attack, both players proving more than handy customers in Sydney's domineering National Youth League side.

Newcastle Jets Squad 1. Ante COVIC (gk), 2. Adam GRIFFITHS, 3. Jade NORTH (c), 5. James HOLLAND, 6. Jesper HAKANSSON, 7. Kaz PATAFTA, 8. Matt THOMPSON, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 13. Adam D-APUZZO, 14. Shaun ONTONG, 16. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 17. Antun KOVACIC, 19. Jason NAIDOVSKI, 24. Marko JESIC. *one to be omitted.

In. 7. Kaz Patafta (promoted).

Out. 20. Ben KENNEDY (gk) (angle - 6 weeks).

Unavailable. 15. Jason Hoffman (knee - season),18. Noel Spencer (ankle - indefinite), 9. Joel Griffiths (suspended), 26. Mark Milligan (suspended), 10. Jin-Hyung Song (ankle - 1 week).

Sydney FC Squad. 1.Clint BOLTON (gk), 2.Iain FYFE, 5.Mitchell PRENTICE, 7.Rob MIDDLEBY, 8.Stuart MUSIALIK, 10.Steve CORICA (c), 12 Shannon COLE, 14.Alex BROSQUE, 19.Mark BRIDGE, 20 Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 23.John ALOISI, 28.Bobby PETTA, 29.Beau BUSCH, 31. Antony GOLEC, 32.Brendan GAN.

In. Nil.

Out. Nil.

Unavailable. 18. Adam CASEY (quadricep - 2 weeks), 4. Simon COLOSIMO (groin - 3 weeks), 22. Mike ENFIELD (knee - indefinite), 15. Terry McFLYNN (knee - 5 weeks), 11. Brendon SANTALAB (shoulder - 5 weeks).