Matchday preview: Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets

There's a role reversal at AAMI Park on Saturday, with the visiting Newcastle Jets arriving on a high after an important win, while hosts Melbourne Victory are aiming to get back on track following their first defeat of the league season.


Saturday, 27 December 2014

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Kick-Off: 7:30 PM (Local) (7:30 PM AEDT)


Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Nathan COE (GK), 2.Jason GERIA, 4.Nick ANSELL, 6.Leigh BROXHAM (C), 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.Connor PAIN, 13.Andrew NABBOUT, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 18.Dylan MURNANE, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 21.Carl VALERI, 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23.Adrian LEIJER, 24.Scott GALLOWAY.

***two to be omitted***

Ins: 13.Andrew NABBOUT (promoted), 24.Scott GALLOWAY (returns from injury)

Outs: nil

Unavailable: 5.Mark MILLIGAN (suspension – 2 matches) 15.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI (ankle – 1 week), 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE (foot – tbc)

Newcastle Jets squad: 1.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 2.Scott NEVILLE, 3.Taylor REGAN, 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Adrian MADASCHI, 7.Jeronimo NEUMANN, 8.Zenon CARAVELLA, 9.Joel GRIFFITHS (c), 10.Marcos FLORES, 11.Andrew HOOLE, 12.Sam GALLAGHER, 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 (returns from injury), 12.Sam GALLAGHER (promoted)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 4. Kew JALIENS (suspended – 1 weeks), 14.Billy CELESKI (groin – 2-3 weeks), 15.Josh BARRESI (knee – season), 22.Jonny STEELE (released)

Broadcast coverage

TV Broadcast: Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 1 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, Local Radio VIC, 936 ABC Hobart & Northern Tasmania, 1233 Newcastle, Grandstand Digital, Online/ ABC Radio Mobile phone app  

Hashtag #MVCvNEW

Referee: Ben Williams

Assistant Referee 1: Matthew Cream

Assistant Referee 2: Paul Cetrangolo

Fourth Official: Patrick Chaplin

Bluffer's guide

If ever there was going to be a backlash after a disappointing defeat, Melbourne Victory must be odds on to produce it on Saturday. The Big V surrendered the final unbeaten record in the 2014-15 A-League season in the most painful manner possible last weekend, losing 1-0 to fierce local rivals Melbourne City in injury time.

That first loss was surely inevitable and indeed appeared likely as they struggled to a somewhat fortunate 3-3 draw at home to Sydney FC the week prior. Now the task for Kevin Muscat and his troops is to get back on track at the first opportunity.

To do so they need to overcome their recent hoodoo against the Jets, having not beaten the team from Hunter Stadium in four meetings since March 2013.

Phil Stubbins and his players will be buoyed by finally getting off the mark this term, recording their first win of the campaign 2-1 at home to Adelaide United last Friday night. Now we find out if that was a one-off or the start of something meaningful from the Jets. Beat Victory on their own turf and they could yet make the doubters and critics sit up and take notice.

Opta Data stats

- The Jets have not won on the road in eight attempts (D2 L6).

- Victory are unbeaten in 10 games at home (including play-offs, W8 D2), scoring 28 goals in that run (2.8 per game).

- The last three games between these sides have ended in a score draw.

Route to goal

Victory coach Kevin Muscat persisted with Archie Thompson in a central role against City, the Big V missing Guilherme Finkler's poise and vision as the creative fulcrum. The Brazilian came off the bench in that loss and claims to be back to full fitness, so will he start against the Jets in a bid to renew his team's attacking cohesion?

Chief marksman Besart Berisha has also been out of sorts of late and a big performance is due from the international marquee striker, although wide men Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Kosta Barbarouses remain in good form and dangerous.

The Jets had Argentine striker Jeronimo Neumann to thanks for netting the winner against his former side last time out, defender Scott Neville weighing in for the opener. On-loan Ecuadorian Edson Montano remains first-choice at centre-forward for Stubbins, with Joel Griffiths, David Carney and former Victory man Marcos Flores charged with supplying the ammunition. It took some accomplished, unified pressing and a high workrate for City to get the better of Victory last time out and it remains to be seen if the Jets are capable of matching that level of performance on the road.

Who's been in the spotlight this week?

A big part of the difference between the title challengers and the A-League's also-rans is the effectiveness of their off-season recruitment. While former Ligue 1 star Ben Khalfallah is impressing us at Victory, the Jets' move for Jonny Steele proved an unmitigated failure, the Northern Irishman granted compassionate leave to return to the United States, where he has spent the majority of his professional career and since released altogether. That leaves Stubbins with one less option in midfield and prompts questions to be asked of the club's due diligence ahead of bringing in the journeyman. 

Form lines 

Prior to their 1-0 loss to City and 3-3 draw with Sydney, Victory had looked in good shape, dispatching the Mariners 3-0 at North Sydney Oval as well as beating Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar at home, 3-2 and 1-0 respectively.

The Jets' win over Adelaide came as a considerable relief after they had lost 2-0 at Perth Glory and 3-1 at home to Wellington Phoenix.

Did you know?

This match sees the season's top scorers Victory (24) go up against the team with the most goals conceded in the form of the Jets (22).

Melbourne Victory 3-1 Newcastle Jets

It's rare Victory haven't met the standards set for them by Muscat, who wants to see his players press the opposition aggressively, win control of the ball and attack with pace and intent. They haven't been able to do that consistently against Sydney and City, but we think the Jets will be ripe for the taking by a talented side hurting and with a point to prove. Building on that long-awaited win is a must for the away side. Fail to prove they can do so and the dark clouds of pessimism will begin to gather again over Newcastle.