Preview: Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC

This game has been labelled as the 'Desperation Cup' given the current predicament of both sides.

Date: Saturday, December 22, 2012 Kick-off: 5.30pm AEDT Venue: Hunter Stadium, Newcastle

Head-to-head: Played 24: Newcastle 5, Sydney FC 13, Draws: 6

Previous encounter: Sydney FC 2-3 Newcastle, October 13, 2012

Form: Past five matches: Jets: LDLLL Sydney FC: LLDWL

The Game This game has been labelled as the 'Desperation Cup' given the current predicament of both sides.

The Jets have picked up just one point from their last five matches while the Sky Blues haven't been much better with just a win and draw to show in the same period.

Both clubs come into this one on the back of shattering defeats, are low on confidence and in vital need of the three points.

Jets coach Gary van Egmond has been forced to chop and change his side in recent weeks due to injury and poor form. It would come as no surprise to see him do something similar for this clash, with the likes of Craig Goodwin and Josh Brillante pushing for a starting berth.

Sydney will be sweating on the fitness of marquee man Alessandro Del Piero, who could only come off the bench last week due to hamstring troubles. If the Italian is fit enough to start it's expected to be at the expense of Rhyan Grant or Blake Powell. Skipper Terry McFlynn is also available again after serving a one-game suspension.

The Big Issue Newcastle: A key reason in the Jets' recent struggles has been their inability to get marquee man Emile Heskey into the game.

The veteran striker was scoring regularly early in the season but has been far too isolated over the last few weeks. Van Egmond needs to ensure his midfielders and wingers get up alongside Heskey when he receives the ball. It was working earlier in the season so there's no reason it can't again. The sooner they can sort it out the better.

Sydney: The Sky Blues seemed to have stiffened up their defence since Frank Farina's arrival but they still have plenty of work to do in the front third.

There seemed to be a lack of movement from the front players against the Wanderers last weekend, making it extremely difficult for ball-players like Del Piero and Jason Culina to create chances.

While Grant and Powell work extremely hard from the front, they don't have the quality to provide the goals that the Sky Blues need on a regular basis. Until Farina gets his options right in attack, it will continue to be a long season for Sydney.

The Gamebreaker Craig Goodwin: It's come as somewhat of a surprise in recent weeks to see Goodwin relegated to the Newcastle bench given the form he was in at the start of the season.

The impressive youngster was a standout when the two sides met earlier this term and the Jets could certainly use his pace and non-stop running up and down the left flank on Saturday night.

Heskey has been starved of supply from the wings in recent weeks and the inclusion of Goodwin might be just what the Jets - and the former England striker - need to get them out of their form slump.

Prediction: Jets 2-2 Sydney There should be a few goals in this one given these two sides' troubles in defence. They have the two worst defensive records in the league, with Sydney leaking 25 goals to the Jets' 22 in the first 11 rounds.

The last time the teams met the Jets came away with a thrilling 3-2 win in front of more than 35,000 fans at Allianz Stadium and if there's half as much action and drama in this one then it promises to be one of the games of the season. While it's vital for both sides to get a win, it's probably more important they don't lose and that could play a significant part in the final result.