Preview: Sydney FC v Newcastle Jets

The Hyundai A-League finals have come a week early with these two sides playing off in a winner-takes-all clash for the last spot in the top six.

Date: Sunday, March 25 Kick-off: 4pm AEDT Venue: Allianz Stadium

Head-to-head Played 22: Wins: Sydney 12, Newcastle 4, Draws: 6

Previous encounter Sydney 2, Newcastle 5, February 5, 2012

History: Sydney have dominated this fixture in the past losing just four times in 22 clashes and winning 12 of their own in that time. The two clubs have split the matches this season, with Sydney taking all three points in the first match up in Newcastle while the Jets got revenge on Sydney's home turf last month.

And it was an emphatic win for the Novocastrians, with goals from Jeremy Brockie (two), Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Ruben Zadkovich and Ali Abbas contributing to a 5-2 trouncing of Vitezslav Lavicka's side.

Form: Past five matches: Sydney FC: WLDWD Newcastle Jets: LWWDL

Sydney's form this season has been harder to predict that this week's Powerball numbers. One week they look like Brazil, the next more like a park football side. It was never more evident than their clash with Melbourne Heart last weekend.

The Sky Blues were woeful in the first 45 minutes and found themselves two goals down but produced some brilliant football after the break to grab a 2-2 draw.

The Jets head into this season-defining match in pretty good nick despite a last-up loss to Brisbane.

Looking like big outsiders to make the playoffs just over a month ago, Gary van Egmond's side have won five and drawn one of their last eight games to now need just a draw to secure their spot in the finals.

Given the drama that engulfed the club just before the start of the campaign that would be some achievement.

Match Committee: With so much at stake it's great the both sides are pretty much at full strength. Sydney welcome back Karol Kisel from suspension and the Slovak midfielder is a good chance to come straight back into the starting side. Shannon Cole may also get a starting berth after his two goals off the bench last weekend.

The Jets also have a clean bill of health which means both coaches have a number of options to help change the game depending on how things unfold during the course of the 90 minutes on Sunday afternoon.

Danger men: Shannon Cole - The one-time Socceroo has hardly been cited in recent weeks but showed just what he can do when summoned off the bench at half-time against the Heart.

Not only did Cole pop up with two goals but he gave the Sky Blues much better balance down the right-hand side of the field. With Sydney needing to win to make the finals, Cole might force his way into the starting side at the expense of the more defence-minded Rhyan Grant at right-back.

Ali Abbas - The Iraqi international has been in and out of the Jets line-up this season but showed just what he can do when given a go from the start against the Roar last weekend.

Abbas was a constant menace whether on the left or in the middle of the park and produced a sublime bit of quality to score direct from a free-kick. He has the ability to turn a game with a pinpoint pass or stinging shot and could be a finals x-factor for the Jets - providing they get there.

At the end of the day… The A-League finals have come a week early with these two sides playing off in a winner-takes-all clash for the last spot in the top six. The Jets have the luxury of knowing a draw will also secure them finals football but there's no way they'll be playing for a point.

Sydney seems to have finally got the mix right between youth and experience in their side and it's showed in their results and performances in recent weeks. One thing that has plagued them all season though has been their slow starts, often giving their opponents a lead and having to fight their way back.

If they do the same thing on Sunday they might find it a little too difficult to peg the Jets back. This could potentially be Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka's final game in charge of the Sky Blues so that should add even more motivation to the home side.

With that in mind as well as Sydney's imposing record over the Jets, I'm tipping the Sky Blues to get the job done and earn themselves a finals berth.