Preview: Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC

Newcastle will be looking to end a poor record against Sydney while the Sky Blues will be keen to keep in touch with the league leaders Brisbane and Central Coast

Date: Saturday, December 17 Kick-off: 5.30pm AEDT, 5.30pm Local Venue: Ausgrid Stadium

Head-to-head Played 20: Wins: Newcastle 3, Sydney FC 11, Draws: 6

Previous encounter Newcastle 1, Sydney FC 1, February 6, 2011

History: This is one of the most lopsided head-to-head records in the Hyundai A-League with the Jets winning just three times in 20 games against Sydney, with the Sky Blues victorious on 11 occasions.

Sydney have also won five of 10 meetings at Ausgrid Stadium. In their most recent encounter, it was only an 84th minute equaliser from Jets striker Sasho Petrovski that denied Sydney another win, cancelling out Bruno Cazarine's opener.

Form: Past five matches: Newcastle: LLDWL Sydney FC: WLLWD

The Jets up and down season continued last weekend when they went down 2-0 in the F3 derby against the Central Coast at Blue tongue Stadium. The result continues Newcastle's horror record on the road this campaign, with just one point gained from a possible 15. Luckily for Gary van Egmond's side, this match will be played in the comforts of their home ground, where they've won four from five starts.

The confidence Sydney gained from their stunning upset of champions Brisbane was deflated a little last weekend as they could only manage a draw against the bottom-placed Gold Coast.

On the plus side it was the first time the Sky Blues have ever taken a point away from Skilled Park. It was enough to keep Sydney in fourth place on the A-League ladder, one place and two points ahead of the Jets.

Match Committee: The Jets are sweating on the fitness of defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who suffered a hamstring injury in the loss to the Mariners. There may be a couple of changes in attack with Chris Payne and Marko Jesic both showing strong form in the National Youth League in recent weeks. Matt Nash is also likely to keep his spot in goal at the expense of the fit again Ben Kennedy.

Sydney striker Mark Bridge is close to returning to full fitness from a back injury and is a chance to be a part of the squad to go up against his former club. Teenager Terry Antonis should also find his way back into the squad after being rested for the club's last two games.

Danger men: Jeremy Brockie - After a brilliant start to the season, the Kiwi international attacker has been a bit quiet of late but will relish the chance to try and get the better of his former club again. Has three goals for the season and unless Sydney keeping him closely marked, is every chance of adding to that tally.

Karol Kisel - With most of the opposition attention generally focused on the likes of Nicky Carle, Brett Emerton and Bruno Cazarine, Kisel could be the key for the Sky Blues in unlocking the Jets' defence. Has hadn't the same impact yet that he had in his first stint in the Harbour city but is getting more and more comfortable by the week.

At the end of the day… Newcastle will be looking to end a poor record against Sydney while the Sky Blues will be keen to keep in touch with the league leaders Brisbane and Central Coast.

While the Jets were very disappointing in the loss to their local rivals last weekend, they will feel better about themselves to be back in front of their home fans. Coach Gary van Egmond said it would take time for his style to be imparted on the Jets squad but the time has come for that to be brought to fruition, especially with the busy festive season period approaching.

It really is hard to know what Sydney are going to do, so brilliant against the Roar one week then so uninspiring just seven days later against the Gold Coast. Much could depend on how they go getting on top of the likes of Brockie, Ryan Griffiths and Habinot Haliti who have been fairly prolific at Ausgrid Stadium.

Sydney will be confident of keeping their impressive record against Newcastle going but the Jets will be desperate to get back to winning ways and keep their spot in the top six. One thing's for sure, it's going to be tight.