A win in tomorrow nightâ€™s midweek fixture would secure a finals spot for the fifth-placed Melbourne Victory.
Sundayâ€™s 2-0 win over Gold Coast United at AAMI Park allowed them to go five points clear of sixth-placed Wellington Phoenix and a favourable result against the Newcastle Jets back at Etihad Stadium would tie up a playoffs spot.
The Victory are still chasing perhaps even a fourth-placed finish as they are just a couple of points behind Gold Coast which makes this fixture even more important.
With two wins on the trot and no losses in their last four outings, Ernie Merrickâ€™s men are in fairly good nick and would be favoured over the visiting Jets who have not been able to crack it for a win in their last three.
Danny Allsopp is flying for his old club, scoring five goals in his last four, including the match-winning double on Sunday and the return of Robbie Kruse from Australian duties at the Asian Cup will also spark the two-time A-League champions who will be without midfielders Carlos Hernandez, Grant Brebner and Billy Celeski.
In the Jets camp, things are not very rosy after a trio of disappointing losses which has given them some points to make up if they want to play finals this season.
They are in desperate need of a win which can only come if they score goals â€“ something they have done just once in those three losses. New Zealand international Jeremy Brockie was able to get some more game time under his belt against Wellington Phoenix on Sunday and should be ready to fire but his expected strike partner Ryan Griffiths is out due to suspension leaving Branko Culina with a few headaches.
The Victoryâ€™s recent form and ability to consistently get results at Etihad suggests that this match is thereâ€™s for the taking and I expect them to do the job and shore up yet another finals berth which could say goodnight to the Jets.
Verdict: Victory 2-0
Melbourne Victory vs. Newcastle Jets
Date: Wednesday, 2 February 2011
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Local kick-off: 7:00pm
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Head-to-Head: All matches (played 17): Melbourne Victory wins 5, Newcastle Jets wins 8 (4 draws)
Match fact: Newcastle Jets defender Adam Dâ€™Apuzzo is set to make his 100th Hyundai A-League appearance.
Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 2, FS2 HD and Sky Sports 2 (NZ). Hyundai A-League partner is 774 ABC (Melbourne), SEN and 1233 ABC Newcastle. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com.au
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 3. Mate DUGANDZIC, 4. Petar FRANJIC, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 7. Matthew KEMP, 9. RICARDINHO, 11. Marvin ANGULO, 12. Rodrigo VARGAS, 13. Diogo FERREIRA, 15. Tom PONDELJAK, 17. Matthew FOSCHINI, 18. Danny ALLSOPP, 20. Sebastian MATTEI (gk), 21. Robbie KRUSE, 22. Geoff KELLAWAY, 23. Adrian LEIJER (c), 24. Luke PILKINGTON *two to be omitted*
In: Luke PILKINGTON (promoted), Geoff KELLAWAY (promoted), Leigh BROXHAM (returns from injury), Robbie KRUSE (returns from international duty)
Out: Grant BREBNER (calf), Carlos Hernandez (groin), Evan BERGER (hamstring), Billy CELESKI (hip)
Unavailable: Archie THOMPSON (hamstring â€“ 1-2 weeks), Surat SUKHA (calf - weeks) Kevin MUSCAT (suspension â€“ 7 matches)
Newcastle Jets: 1. Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2. Taylor REGAN, 3. Adam D'APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR STANLEY (c), 9. Zhang SHUO, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 14. Labinot HALITI, 16. Jeremy BROCKIE, 17. Marcello FIORENTINI, 18. Marko JESIC, 25. Samuel GALLAWAY, 26. James VIRGILI, 28. Mario SIMIC, 31. Jacob PEPPER, 40. Matthew NASH *one to be omitted*
In: Zhang SHUO, Mario SIMIC (both promoted)
Out: Ryan Griffiths (suspension)
Unavailable: Michael BRIDGES (knee - six weeks), Sean ROONEY (knee - season), Ben KANTAROVSKI (knee - season), Brodie MOOY (compartment syndrome - season), Kasey WEHRMAN (Foot - four weeks), Ruben ZADKOVICH (knee - two weeks), Ali ABBAS (groin - one week), Kaz PATAFTA (groin - one week), Sasho PETROVSKI (Hamstring- one week) Neil YOUNG (Not Selected)