Preview: Sydney FC v Melbourne Heart

Melbourne Heart have the wood over Sydney FC since coming into the Hyundai A-League with two wins and two draws from their four meetings.

Date:Thursday, December 29 Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT, 7.30pm Local Venue: Sydney Football Stadium

Head-to-head Played 4: Wins: Sydney FC 0, Melbourne Heart 2, Draws: 2

Previous encounter Melbourne Heart 1, Sydney FC 1, October 29, 2011

History: Melbourne Heart have the wood over Sydney FC since coming into the Hyundai A-League with two wins and two draws from their four meetings. The Heart have won their only encounter in Sydney, with a late winner from Adrian Zahra prior to Christmas last year handing the Melbourne side a 1-0 win.

This season's only clash ended in a 1-1 draw after Nicky Carle's 93rd minute goal cancelled out Maycon's 85th minute opener back in Round 4.

Form: Past five matches: Sydney FC: LWDWD Melbourne Heart: LWWWW

Sydney made it four games without a loss by drawing with Adelaide last Thursday night but coach Vitezslav Lavicka was disappointed they didn't take all three points in front of their home fans yet again.

It was yet another case of giving their opponents a start before fighting back to take something from the game. While they have been brilliant on the road, the Sky Blues will have to start picking up maximum points at the SFS if they are to finish in the top two.

The Heart can do no wrong at the moment, winning five of their last six matches, including last weekend's memorable 3-2 win over arch-rivals Melbourne Victory. And the only defeat in that run has come against league leaders the Central Coast.

John van 't Schip's side have also won three of those games on the road meaning a trip interstate to face the Sky Blues will hold no fear.

Match Committee: Sydney will be without skipper Terry McFlynn after the Northern Irishman picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against the Reds. Youngster Terry Antonis or Hiro Moriyasu are the most likely to take his place in the holding midfield role.

Nick Carle missed last week's draw with Adelaide with a hamstring strain but could make a return if he gets through the club's last training session. Mark Bridge has had another week of training under his belt and could win a spot on the bench with either Juho Makela or Mitchell Mallia to make way if that's the case.

Heart midfielder Jonatan Germano (hamstring) missed the win over the Victory but is likely to be right to take his place in the squad for the trip north. The big question is whether van 't Schip is keen to make any changes to the squad that was so impressive last time out.

Youngster Nick Kalmar is still a few weeks away because of a back injury while Kliment Taseski (foot fracture) is a longer-term prospect.

Danger men: Dimitri Petratos - Battling to even make the squad in the first couple of months in the season, Petratos is now a major component of the club's four-game unbeaten run. The Youngster has started all of those games, scoring two goals - including the equaliser in the draw with the Reds last week - and is starting to form a strong partnership with Brazilian Bruno Cazarine in attack for the Sky Blues.

Matt Thompson - Thompson is the Heart's Mr Reliable. Back in his favoured midfield role this season after playing most of last campaign in central defence, the former Jets star is arguably in some of the best form of his career.

He seems to have rediscovered the ability to make incisive, late runs into the box and it's paying off in front of goal, with Thompson grabbing a crucial brace in the win over the Victory last time out.

At the end of the day… This looms as an absolute cracker. With the exception of the high-flying Mariners, these two clubs are the form sides of the competition, with genuine claims of being title contenders. With Brisbane in free-fall, there is a real possibility for one of these two to make a claim for a top two spot.

It may start to seem like a broken record but the key for Sydney is getting off to a good start. Lavicka's side again gave their opponents a start last week, before fighting back twice to salvage a point.

On the plus side for the Sky Blues they have won 11 of their 19 points from losing positions which shows tremendous character, but it's a trait that needs to improve if they hope to be successful in the finals cauldron.

The Heart have built into the season perfectly and are now starting to hit their straps at just the right time. With the likes of Mate Dugandzic, Eli Babalj, Fred, Rutger Worm and Aziz Behich in blistering form, the Red and Whites have plenty of attacking threat and goals in them. The Heart have never lost against Sydney but this may be the Sky Blues' best chance to end that stat.