While both teams need a win, the Phoenix and Heart are very even and expect this one in Wellington to reflect that.
Date: Thursday 27 December, 2012 Kick-off: 5.30pm AEDT, 7.30pm local Venue: Westpac Stadium
Head-to-head Played: 7 Wins: Wellington 2, Melbourne Heart 2, Draws: 3
Previous encounter Melbourne Heart 1 Wellington Phoenix 1, 14 October 2012
Form: Past five matches: Wellington: DLLWD Melbourne Heart: LLWDD
The Game The Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Heart desperately need a win to avoid the gap between themselves and the top six getting any greater than it already is.
Both have recorded just three wins this season with the Phoenix sitting seventh, a spot ahead of the Heart.
The problems have been at both ends of the park for the two sides with goals increasingly hard to find and keeping teams at bay also difficult.
John Aloisi's Heart have the equal worst attack in the A-League, with just 13 goals in 12 league matches this campaign.
Richard Garcia and Josip Tadic (three goals each) and David Williams (two) are the only Heart players to manage multiple goals this season, a real area of concern for Aloisi.
The Phoenix looked like they had found a real goalscorer in Stein Huysegems early in 2012/13, but have now become reliant on Jeremy Brockie up front.
Huysegems is without a goal since October 27, while the loss of Paul Ifill to an ankle injury for up to six weeks only compounded their problems.
The Belgian striker is sure to get his chances against an inexperienced Heart defence, which will be missing Simon Colosimo and Patrick Gerhardt due to suspension.
Three points separate the sixth-placed Newcastle Jets and the Phoenix, making this a vital encounter for both teams.
The Big Issue Wellington: Questions remain over whether the Phoenix can not only start winning again, but string a run of victories together to boost their chances of making the top six. An opening-round win over Sydney was followed by five matches without a victory.
After a 1-1 draw against the Central Coast last time out, the Phoenix must back up from their effort against the league leaders with a positive result over the Heart.
Melbourne Heart: The Heart need to start taking their chances after wastefulness cost them during the 2-1 loss to the Victory in the Melbourne derby. Positively for the Heart, they are creating opportunities, but unless they start converting, their problems will continue to grow.
The Heart squandered several chances against the Victory but if they click - like against the Brisbane Roar earlier this season - they are capable of going on a run.
Game breaker Jeremy Brockie: much was made of the forward's form during pre-season and after a slow start he has found his feet. Brockie has netted seven times in his past seven league outings to become one of the most dangerous forwards in the competition. The New Zealander is sure to pose threat against a likely Heart defensive pairing of Steven Gray and David Vrankovic.
Prediction: Wellington 1-1 Melbourne Heart While both teams need a win, the Phoenix and Heart are very even and expect this one in Wellington to reflect that.
The Phoenix are winless in their past three and their 1-1 draw against the Mariners was a positive result, but they appear to lack firepower.
Heart's unproven centre-backs will be tested but with a strong midfield including Jonatan Germano, Fred and Matt Thompson, there is some protection.
Aloisi's men have never won at Westpac Stadium and their away form - four points of a possible 18 - on the road this season has been poor.
The men from Melbourne are unlikely to create as many chances as they did against their city rivals, and a draw appears the most likely result.