Preview: Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United

Melbourne Victory face Adelaide United in Round 7 of the 2013-14 A-League season at Etihad Stadium on Saturday November 23 at 7.45pm AEDT.

Melbourne Victory face Adelaide United in Round 7 of the 2013-14 A-League season at Etihad Stadium on Saturday November 23 at 7.45pm AEDT.


Played: 31, Wins: Victory 15, Adelaide 10, Draws: 6

Previous encounter:

Adelaide 2-2 Victory, October 18 2013

Past five matches:

Victory: LLWWD
Adelaide: DLLLD

The Game:

Melbourne Victory head coach Kevin Muscat will be hoping a return home can halt his team's poor run when they host Adelaide United on Saturday night. After consecutive losses in Sydney, Victory will be back in Melbourne in Round 7 and hoping to continue their unbeaten form on their own turf.

The Big V will have recent history against them, however, as they have only overcome Adelaide once in their past nine meetings. The Reds - so long the victim against Victory, having lost 10 matches in a row from September 2008 to October 2010 - have turned that around in the past couple of years, although they enter this week's encounter in poor form.

Josep Gombau's men have not won since the opening round of the 2013/14 A-League season but could leapfrog Victory on the ladder with a win at Etihad Stadium. The Reds need to tighten up in defence, having not kept a clean sheet this season, despite having arguably the best goalkeeper in the competition in captain Eugene Galekovic. Muscat must find a way to get Melbourne performing consistently for 90 minutes.

The big issue:

Victory – Three games into Muscat's tenure with Victory and the issues that held the Big V back from being true championship contenders under Ange Postecoglou remain unresolved. Melbourne have produced some top football in their past three matches and arguably gave league leaders Western Sydney their biggest scare of the season in the first half last week. But Victory still struggle to break down packed defences and seem unable to alter the momentum of a match when the opposition gets on top. Does Muscat have the ability to fix these issues?

Adelaide – The Reds' season has taken a turn for the worse since they were reeled in by Victory in the 2-2 draw five weeks ago. Since that game, Adelaide have conceded six goals and scored just three. Gombau's focus has been on his team's performance rather than results but do Adelaide fans have the patience required to stick with their club's style revolution? Another loss this week after essentially giving away three points versus Perth last week and the pressure may rise slightly on Gombau.

The game breaker:

Archie Thompson - The last two seasons have been tough for the veteran Victory striker. Thompson has scored 16 goals in 49 games, down on his A-League scoring rate of almost one in two matches. But two goals in the past three games indicates the 35-year-old might be finding some touch again and, up against one of the worst defences in the league, Thompson could be the key versus Adelaide. The striker needs four goals to pull ahead of Shane Smeltz as the A-League's all-time leading scorer.

Prediction: Victory 3-1 Adelaide

Melbourne are set to welcome back captain Mark Milligan after the central midfielder missed last week's 1-0 loss to the Wanderers due to international duty, while Kosta Barbarouses could also be available after two weeks with New Zealand's national team. With just about a full squad available and in front of their home fans, Victory should be confident of success. Adelaide need to re-jig their forward set-up after just three goals in four games. It could be time for Bruce Djite to come into the Reds' line-up with an ankle injury having kept the big striker to just 27 minutes so far this season.

Goals are guaranteed to flow at Etihad Stadium. Both Adelaide and Melbourne have notched eight goals this season (the equal-second best record in the A-League), while the Reds (nine goals conceded) have the equal-worst defensive record with Victory (eight goals) only slightly better.