Preview: Melbourne City vs Newcastle Jets

David Villa’s full debut should be enough to fill the stands at AAMI as the wealthy City take on the blue collar Jets in a game most pundits have the home side as hot favourites for all three points.

AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 3:00 PM (Local) (3:00 PM AEDT)

Referee: Jarred Gillett
Assistant Referee 1: Luke Brennan
Assistant Referee 2: Brad Hobson
Fourth Official: Patrick Chaplin

TV Broadcast: Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 1HD & 1 from 2.30pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 2 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, Local Radio VIC, 1233 ABC Newcastle, Grandstand Digital Melbourne, ABC Grandstand Online/A-League Live Mobile phone app

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #MCYvNEW

Melbourne City FC Line-Up: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 3.Robbie WIELAERT, 5.Erik PAARTALU, 6.Aaron MOOY, 7.Iain RAMSAY, 8.Massimo MURDOCCA, 9.David VILLA, 10.Robert KOREN, 11.Damien DUFF, 14.James BROWN, 15.David WILLIAMS, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 18.Paulo RETRE, 20.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 23.Mate DUGANDZIC, 24.Patrick KISNORBO (C), 26.Marc MARINO, 27.Ross ARCHIBALD

***two to be omitted***

Ins: 10. Robert KOREN (promoted) 15. David WILLIAMS (promoted), 17.Jason HOFFMAN (returns from suspension)

Outs: 25.Jacob MELLING (not selected)

Unavailable: 4.Connor Chapman (glandular fever – ongoing), 13.Jonatan Germano (2-5 weeks), 19.Benjamin GARUCCIO (2-5 weeks), 21.Stefan Mauk (returning from Young Socceroos duty)

Newcastle Jets squad: 1.Mark BIRIGHITTI (GK), 2.Scott NEVILLE, 3.Taylor REGAN, 4.Kew JALIENS (c), 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 7.Jeronimo NEUMANN, 8.Zenon CARAVELLA, 9.Joel GRIFFITHS, 10.Marcos FLORES, 11.Andrew HOOLE, 12.Sam GALLAGHER, 13.Edson MONTANO, 16.Jacob PEPPER, 17.James VIRGILI, 20.Ben KENNEDY (GK), 21.Sam GALLAWAY, 22.Jonny STEELE, 23.David CARNEY

***two to be omitted***

Ins: 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI (return from injury), 21.Sam GALLAWAY (promoted).

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 6.Adrian MADASCHI (calf– 1-2 weeks), 14.Billy CELESKI (groin – 5-7 weeks), 15.Josh BARRESI (knee – season), 19.Mitch COOPER (knee – 5-7 weeks)

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

These are two teams both looking for their first win of the 2014-15 season, although Melbourne City coach John van 't Schip is likely to be more encouraged with his side's performance in their 1-1 draw away to Sydney FC than Jets boss Phil Stubbins would have been in a 1-0 loss at the Central Coast Mariners.

City dominated possession, were unfortunate to concede to a world-class finish from Corey Gameiro and only lacked something of a cutting edge at Allianz Stadium, while the Jets struggled to make an impact on the F3 Derby and were duly punished when they conceded during injury time in Gosford.

David Villa, set to make his first Hyundai A-League start on Sunday, will be the centre of attention, but City fans have plenty of other new faces to get acquainted with, while travelling Jets supporters and those watching from back home will note with interest any signs of progress made under their new coach. 

OPTA DATA STATS

City struggled to convert their possession into shooting opportunities last weekend, managing seven shots in the game, with three on target. Five of those came from outside the area with just two inside Sydney's penalty area.

With Villa set to start and Robert Koren and David Williams due to return to selection contention, van't Schip will hope to see his team pose more of a meaningful threat in the final third.

The Jets by contrast had 12 attempts on goal in Gosford, with five on target and an even split of six from outside the box and six within it. They are unlikely to see as much of the ball as they did against the reactive Mariners and will have to be less profligate with what chances they do carve out if they are to come away from their trip to Melbourne with anything to show for their efforts.  

ROUTE TO GOAL

Damien Duff capped off an impressive, hard-working Hyundai A-League debut by supplying the assist for Villa's equaliser in Sydney and more of the same will be expected on Sunday. James Brown and Mate Dugandzic were less convincing, with one - likely the former - set to make way for Villa in the starting XI. 

With Erik Paartalu anchoring the midfield and Aaron Mooy and Massimo Murdocco linking with the forwards, going wide won't be City's only option. Keep an eye out for Mooy and Murdocco making runs into the box or trying to slip Villa in behind the Jets' backline.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

It can't be about anyone other than Villa this week, after the former Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid star announced his arrival in the form of a decisive, goal-scoring cameo. It's not just in the stands where he's making an impression, with team-mate Jonatan Germano gushing over the presence of a genuine superstar at City's humble La Trobe University training base.  

FORM LINES

Prior to City's 1-1 draw in Sydney, Van 't Schip's men recorded friendly wins over Perth Glory and Pascoe Vale, lost to Adelaide United and drew 1-1 with the Mariners.

The Jets' build-up to their 1-0 opening-round defeat at the hands of the Mariners saw them beat Australia's Under-20s 2-1, draw 0-0 with Central Coast and win against Wellington Phoenix and the North Queensland All Stars, 2-1 and 3-0 respectively. 

DID YOU KNOW?

It was a home game against the Jets last season when the then-Melbourne Heart finally won for the first time in 2013-14. John Aloisi had been sacked by that point and Van 't Schip recalled, while the luckless international marquee Orlando Engelaar finally made his first appearance off the bench (having broken his leg in pre-season) as Heart recorded a drought-breaking 3-1 win.

PREDICTION

Result: Melbourne City 3-0 Newcastle Jets

With Villa in the starting XI and some heavyweights likely to be on the bench and pushing for selection, we expect City to improve on last weekend's promising showing by converting dominance of possession into goals. Edson Montano looked lively enough for the Jets and Jeronimo Neumann is also a quality forward, but are their team-mates capable of carving out enough chances for them to take advantage of? We're doubtful.