Wellington's winning drought is approaching crisis point and if it's not rectified soon, they could find themselves out of contention for a finals position.
Date: Sunday, November 18, 2012 Kick-off: 3:00pm AEDT, 5:00pm NZT Venue: Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Head-to-head: Played 16: Wins: Newcastle 5, Wellington 11, Draws: 0
Previous encounter: Newcastle 0, Wellington 1, January 20, 2012, Hunter Stadium
Form: Past five matches: Newcastle: WWWLW Wellington: DDLLL
The Game Newcastle Jets welcome Wellington Phoenix to Hunter Stadium with both sides in contrasting form.
Gary van Egmond's men have put their opening round defeat well and truly behind them, claiming the scalps of Sydney FC, Central Coast, Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney, while they were narrowly beaten by grand finalists Perth Glory. As a result, Newcastle are just one point behind league leaders Central Coast and Adelaide heading into week seven.
Wellington on the other hand, have gone off the boil and in a big way. Since completely outplaying Sydney in round one, the Phoenix have failed to win a game from their past five, a run that has only yielded two points out of a possible 15. However, history is with the Wellington-based outfit leading into Sunday's encounter as the Phoenix have a quality record against the Jets.
The big issue Newcastle Jets: Can Newcastle penetrate the Phoenix defence? The 2007/08 champions have endured a torrid time against the likes of Andrew Durante and Ben Sigmund recently, with a mere two goals scored in their past five games against Ricki Herbert's side.
It's been equally as awful at the other end, with a staggering 13 goals conceded in these five matches, something that needs to be addressed immediately.
Wellington Phoenix: Wellington's winning drought is approaching crisis point and if it's not rectified soon, they could find themselves out of contention for a finals position. The Phoenix are three games short of their longest streak without a win, which stands at eight and one off equaling their worst-ever losing run.
To make matters worse, they will be up against the league's leading scorer, Emile Heskey. But with players such as Stein Huysegems, Paul Ifill and Jeremy Brockie at Herbert's disposal, it's only a matter of time before the tide starts to change.
The game breaker Ryan Griffiths is thriving in the shadow of Heskey. In what is turning out to be the perfect Batman and Robin act in the Hyundai A-League, the former Beijing Guoan striker has three goals and two assists to his name this season. If the 31-year-old isn't scoring, he is turning provider for his teammates, while opposing defenders figure out a way to deal with the towering Englishman.
Prediction Newcastle 2-2 Wellington: There is plenty to play for in terms of points and pride as the Jets look to end their barren run against the boys from across the ditch, who are staring at a fourth successive loss.
Depending on other results, the Jets could surge to the summit, while the Phoenix could end round seven languishing at the foot of the table. With that in mind, an entertaining stalemate seems the likely result, even if draws have historically been few and far between in matches between these sides.