A-League preview: Newcastle Jets v Melbourne City

A resurgent City head to Newcastle in strong form and eager to solidify their position in the top six. But it won’t be an easy task against a Jets side proving a far harder proposition to beat than they were earlier in the campaign.

MATCH DETAILS
Tuesday, 30 December 2014
Hunter Stadium, Newcastle

Kick-Off: 5pm (Local) (5pm AEDST)
Referee: Stephen Lucas

Squads
Newcastle Jets 1.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 2.Scott NEVILLE, 3.Taylor REGAN, 4.Kew JALIENS (c), 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Adrian MADASCHI, 7.Jeronimo NEUMANN, 8.Zenon CARAVELLA, 9.Joel GRIFFITHS, 10.Marcos FLORES, 11.Andrew HOOLE, 13.Edson MONTANO, 16.Jacob PEPPER, 17.James VIRGILI, 18.Allan WELSH, 19.Mitch COOPER, 20.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 23.David CARNEY ***two to be omitted***

Ins 3. Taylor REGAN (promoted), 4.Kew JALIENS (returns from suspension), 10. Marcos FLORES (returns from injury).
Outs 12.Sam GALLAGHER (omitted)
Unavailable 14.Billy CELESKI (groin – 2-3 weeks), 15.Josh BARRESI (knee – season)

Melbourne City 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 3. Robbie WIELAERT, 4. Connor CHAPMAN, 5. Erik PAARTALU, 6. Aaron MOOY, 7. Iain RAMSAY, 10. Robert KOREN, 11. Damien DUFF, 14. James BROWN, 15.David WILLIAMS, 18. Paulo RETRE, 19. Benjamin GARUCCIO, 20. Tando VELAPHI (GK), 23. Mate DUGANDZIC, 24. Patrick KISNORBO (C), 25. Jacob MELLING, 27, Ross ARCHBALD, 28. Liam MILLER ***Two to be omitted***

Ins 18. Paulo RETRE (promoted), 27. Ross ARCHIBALD (promoted)
Outs Nil
Unavailable 8. Massimo MURDOCCA (ankle – 1 weeks), 17. Jason HOFFMAN (back strain – 1-3 weeks)

Broadcast coverage
TV - Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 1 (New Zealand)
Radio - Grandstand Online/ ABC Radio Mobile phone app

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

Both sides head into this clash in improved recent form, the Jets grabbing a win then pushing Victory all the way on the weekend while City are in the top six on a three-game unbeaten run. But which of these sides will end 2014 on a high? After originally struggling in front of their home fans early in the season, Newcastle have done well at Hunter Stadium of late and will hope that can translate into another top performance here. These two sides met back in round two at AAMI Park, with a late David Villa goal earning John van’t Schip’s side a 1-1 draw.

The Jets have been boosted by the return of a couple of key players for this one. Skipper Kew Jaliens is available again after suspension and should come straight back in in the heart of defence while playmaker Marcos Flores has shrugged off injury to make the squad. There are no major changes to the City squad. Defender Ross Archibald has been promoted and may push Rob Wielaert for a start, while it will be interesting to see if imports Robert Koren and Damien Duff are fit enough to start after coming off the bench in the club’s Boxing Day clash with Perth Glory.

ROUTE TO GOAL

City has still struggled to find that cutting edge in recent weeks despite their improvement, getting in a number of good positions but lacking the quality at key times. With Damien Duff and Robi Koren now fit and in the squad, that can certainly change here. David Carney has been the Jets’ main-man so far this season and the home side needs to get him on the ball more, especially one-on-one with his defender. The ex-Socceroo didn’t start against Victory on Saturday and it showed.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Aaron Mooy. The all-action midfielder was left out of Ange Postecoglou’s squad for the Asian Cup but didn’t let the disappointment get him down too much, putting in a man-of-the-match performance on Boxing Day as well as scoring City’s goal. Mooy has easily been City’s most consistent player this season and you can’t help but feel he’ll get to an even higher level once Koren settles into the line-up.

FORM LINES

Newcastle was unable to build on their first win of the campaign as they went down late on 1-0 against Melbourne Victory on Saturday night. But they should have built some confidence having pushed the competition favourites all the way. Melbourne City’s recent improvement has continued after a 1-1 draw with league-leaders Perth Glory on Boxing Day. Van’t Schip’s side has now gone three games unbeaten, conceding just the solitary goal.

DID YOU KNOW?

City will be off to the UAE when the Hyundai A-League takes a break for the Asian Cup. There they'll train and play local sides. 

PREDICTION

Newcastle Jets 2-2 Melbourne City FC
Having taken four points out of a possible six against the top two sides in the last fortnight, can City now produce something similar against the struggling Jets. City has often saved their best for the big boys then struggled to get the job done against the so-called lesser lights. Newcastle has looked stronger in recent weeks and will want to finish the year on a high in front of their home fans. There should be a few goals in this one but they might have to share the points we think.