The New Year's Day clash at Parramatta Stadium should be a cracker with two of the form teams in the A-League set to clash, with third spot on the line.
Date: Tuesday 1 January, 2013 Kick-off: 6.15pm AEDT Venue: Parramatta Stadium
Head-to-head Played: 1 Wins: Western Sydney 0, Melbourne 1, Draws: 0
Previous encounter Western Sydney 0, Melbourne 2, 24 November 2012
Form: Past five matches: Western Sydney: DWWWL Melbourne: WWDLW
The Game The New Year's Day clash at Parramatta Stadium should be a cracker with two of the form teams in the A-League set to clash, with third spot on the line.
Both Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory have picked up 10 points in their past five games, the same as league-leaders Central Coast Mariners, and are keen to put some more pressure on second-placed Adelaide United.
Victory could overtake Adelaide if they beat Wanderers and the faltering Reds lose to Sydney FC, while a win for Western Sydney will see them overhaul Melbourne and move into third spot on the A-League ladder.
Western Sydney should have the likes of Shinji Ono and Youssouf Hersi back in their starting line-up against Melbourne after Wanderers head coach Tony Popovic made six changes from the side that defeated Adelaide 6-1 for the 1-1 draw away to Perth Glory.
Melbourne head coach Ange Postecoglou will have Adrian Leijer available again after Victory's captain served a one-game suspension during his team's 3-2 win over Newcastle Jets but Mark Milligan is still suspended for his punch on Heart's Jonatan Germano during the derby.
The Big Issue Western Sydney: The draw in Perth means the Wanderers have now extended their unbeaten run to four games. But although Popovic's side were praised early in the season for their solid defensive effort, December has seen them step up a gear to become a genuinely impressive team.
With the spotlight now firmly on Western Sydney, can the Wanderers succeed when it is expected? Melbourne Victory will be a big test on New Year's Day but having won their past two games at home, the Wanderers should get at least a draw at Parramatta Stadium.
Melbourne: How long will Marco Rojas be wearing the Big V of Melbourne? The 21-year-old striker, dubbed 'The Kiwi Messi', scored twice in Victory's 3-2 triumph over the Jets to take his season tally to nine goals, second only behind Central Coast's Daniel McBreen.
After a lacklustre first season with Victory, Rojas has blossomed under Postecoglou and his form could tempt clubs around the world during the January transfer window. Even if Melbourne hold onto the New Zealander for the rest of this campaign, Victory need to capitalise on Rojas' form and win some silverware as he may not be in the A-League next season.
Gamebreaker Shinji Ono: For all of Melbourne Victory's impressive attacking efforts this season, Postecoglou still has not got the defence finely tuned. Victory have conceded 24 goals in 13 games and Ono could be crucial to Wanderers' hopes of success. The Japanese veteran played his best game of the season in the 6-1 thrashing of Adelaide and his pin-point passing may be the difference against Melbourne.
Prediction: Western Sydney 2-2 Melbourne Victory In the first meeting between these two sides, the Wanderers dominated the visitors after they lost Sam Gallagher to a straight red card early on but Victory thrived on the counter-attack to win 2-0.
While Melbourne still have the attacking capabilities to break down the home side's impressive defensive structure, Popovic's team have now shown they can be dangerous in the forward third as well.
Despite Victory's good results the past five games, Postecoglou's team have had eight goals scored against them and with Mark Bridge hitting some form, the Wanderers should be able to get at least a point.