The Christmas period has given football followers a feast of action and it continues tonight with an intriguing contest between the Melbourne Victory and Newcastle Jets. The sixth-placed Victory are in solid form at the moment and have not been beaten in five matches whilst the seventh-placed Jets dropped their first match in their past eight when they were beaten 4-0 by Wellington Phoenix last weekend.
In the Victory camp, there are a few absences to contend with as Archie Thompson, Matthew Kemp, Grant Brebner and now Surat Sukha will all miss, creating some big holes to fill.
The return of Billy Celeski and Leigh Broxham slightly offsets that but the loss of Thompson is enormous just as he was starting to get back to top form.
The Jets will get a key quartet back into their squad as Ljubo Milicevic, Jobe Wheelhouse, Kasey Wehrman and Ruben Zadkovich all return from either injury or suspension which will please coach Branko Culina greatly.
It promises to be an enticing encounter and if Thompson was in, I would happily tip the Victory, but because he is not a draw looks a more likely scenario.
Verdict: 1-1 draw
Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1, FS1 HD and Sky Sports 1 (NZ). Hyundai A-League partner is 774 ABC (Melbourne), SEN and 1233 ABC Newcastle. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 2. Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3. Mate DUGANDZIC, 4. Petar FRANJIC, 5. Surat SUKHA, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 9. RICARDINHO, 11.Marvin ANGULO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13. Diogo FERREIRA, 14. Billy CELESKI, 15. Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17. Matthew FOSCHINI, 19. Evan BERGER, 20. Sebastian MATTEI (gk), 21. Robbie KRUSE, 22. Geoff KELLAWAY 23. Adrian LEIJER *four to be omitted* In: Billy CELESKI (suspended), Leigh BROXHAM (returns from injury), Petar FRANJIC (promoted) Out: Archie THOMPSON (hamstring), Matthew KEMP (groin), Grant BREBNER (suspended) Unavailable: Archie THOMPSON (hamstring), Matthew KEMP (groin), Grant BREBNER (suspended)
Newcastle Jets squad: 1. Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2. Taylor REGAN, 3. Adam D'APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR STANLEY, 5. Ljubo MILICEVIC, 7. Kasey WEHRMAN, 10. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 13. Sasho PETROVSKI, 14. Labinot HALITI, 17. Marcello FIORENTINI, 18. Marko JESIC, 19. Ali ABBAS, 22. Kaz PATAFTA, 24. Francis JEFFERS, 26. James VIRGILI, 27. Tomislav MISURA, 31. Jacob PEPPER *four to be omitted, gk to be included* In: Ljubo MILICEVIC (returns from suspension), Kasey WEHRMAN (returns from suspension), Jobe WHEELHOUSE (returns from suspension), Ruben ZADKOVICH (returns from injury) Out: Matthew NASH (gk) (groin injury) Unavailable: Neil YOUNG (illness - indefinite), Michael BRIDGES (knee - 6 weeks), Jeremy BROCKIE (broken foot - 6-8 weeks), Sean ROONEY (knee - season), Ben KANTAROVSKI (knee - season), Matthew NASH (groin - 2 to 3 weeks)