Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix – Preview

This is a real chance to put some momentum in the season and head into back-to-back games on the road against North Queensland and Newcastle full of confidence.

Date: Wednesday September 15
Kick-off: 7:30pm AEST
Venue: AAMI Park

Played 9: Wins: Melbourne Victory 4, Wellington Phoenix 1, Draws: 4

Previous Meeting
Melbourne Victory 4, Wellington Phoenix 0, Etihad Stadium, January 2010

Why we don-t like ’em
Melbourne Victory have enjoyed a strong run of form against Wellington, losing just once against the Phoenix back in November 2008. The most recent match saw Melbourne hammer the visitors 4-0 back in January last year. There are a few ex-Victory players currently in the Wellington side, including Nick Ward, who left only a couple of weeks ago, and Vince Lia.

Season so far:
Melbourne Victory
R6: Melbourne Victory 3, Brisbane Roar 0, AAMI Park
R5: Central Coast Mariners 2, Melbourne Victory 0, Bluetongue Stadium
R4: Gold Coast United 0, Melbourne Victory 1, Skilled Park
R3: Melbourne Victory 2, North Queensland Fury 2, AAMI Park
R2: Melbourne Victory 0, Perth Glory 2, AAMI Park
R1: Sydney FC 3, Melbourne Victory 3, SFS

Wellington Phoenix:
R6: Wellington Phoenix 2, Sydney FC 1, Westpac Stadium
R5: Perth Glory 2, Wellington Phoenix 1, nib Stadium
R4: Brisbane Roar 1, Wellington Phoenix 0, Suncorp Stadium
R3: Wellington Phoenix 2, Central Coast 0, Westpac Stadium
R2: Wellington Phoenix 3, Gold Coast United 3, Westpac Stadium

Decisions for Ernie
With skipper Kevin Muscat out with an ankle injury for at least a month, Adrian Leijer will be brought into the middle of defence, with Diogo Ferreira a chance to get a start at full back. The other thing on the coach’s mind is whether he opts to give Billy Celeski and Tom Pondeljak starts after they impressed in the second half last week.

Behind Enemy Lines
Jade North could be set to make his debut for his new club after travelling to Melbourne with the team, while Ricki Herbert has a few other options to consider with goalkeeper Mark Paston and midfielder Vince Lia also available after missing Friday’s win over Sydney

Our Hero
Ricardinho – What an unbelievable way to score you first goal for a club! If you haven-t seen the Brazilian’s magnificent piece of trickery against Brisbane on Sunday, get yourself on Youtube. The striker has big raps on his since coming to the club and he is starting to show us why. He’s the sort of player who will get people through the gates.

Danger man
Nick Ward – The former Victory midfielder headed across the ditch to get more game time and has made quite an impression in a short period. He scored a cracking goal to win the match for the Phoenix last week and will be keen to show his old club exactly what they are missing on Wednesday night.

Why we will win
It will be interesting to see what approach Ricki Herbert takes to this match. The Phoenix are a strong side at home and have usually opted to play more conservatively on the road in order to minimise damage. But after a very promising showing last year, things may change this year.

Wellington have some class players in Paul Ifill, Leo Bertos, Chris Greenacre and Ward and may opt to come to play at AAMI Park. Certainly the addition of North, one of the best defenders in the competition when he last played in the A-League, won-t do them any harm up the other end, while they have a strong keeper in Danny Vukovic.

However, Melbourne’s confidence is high after Sunday’s win and while they will have to do the job over the next month without their on-field leader, things are looking on the up. Ricardinho looks every bit the player we have been told to expect, Carlos Hernandez is rediscovering form and fitness, while Billy Celeski played his best game since coming back from a knee reconstruction.

This is a real chance to put some momentum in the season and head into back-to-back games on the road against North Queensland and Newcastle full of confidence.

MELBOURNE VICTORY Squad: 1.Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 3.Mate DUGANDZIC, 5.Surat SUKHA, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 8.Grant BREBNER, 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), 23.Adrian LEIJER (c), 27.Geoff KELLAWAY.
***2 to be omitted***

In: Matthew FOSCHINI(promoted), .Diogo FERREIRA, (promoted), Evan BERGER(promoted)
Out: Kevin MUSCAT (foot – 4-6 weeks),
Unavailable: Archie THOMPSON (knee), Matthew KEMP (knee), Robbie KRUSE (calf – 1-2 weeks)

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Nick WARD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 11. DANIEL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 14. Mirjan PAVLOVIC, 15. Jade NORTH, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 19. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Dylan MACALLISTER
*three to be omitted*

In: Mark PASTON (gk, return from injury), Jade NORTH (new signing),Vince LIA (return from injury)
Out: Griffin McMASTER (omitted)
Unavailable: Reece CROWTHER (gk, ribs – 3 weeks)