Preview: Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory

These two teams last met at AAMI Park in September and the match ended in a 0-0 draw.

Date: Saturday November 27
Kick-off: 6:00pm (4:00pm AEDT).
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Television: Live and exclusive on Fox Sports 1 from 4:00pm (AEDT).
Match Centre:

Played 10: Wins: Melbourne Victory 4, Draws 5, Wellington Phoenix 1

Previous Meeting
Melbourne Victory 0, Wellington Phoenix 0, AAMI Stadium, September 2010

Why we don’t like ’em
Wellington’s only success against Melbourne came back in November 2008 and after sharing the spoils in their first two encounters last season, Melbourne turned on the style in the third, winning 4-0 thanks to three second half goals. Earlier this season, the teams met for a tame 0-0 draw at AAMI Park.

Past five matches:
Wellington Phoenix:
Wellington Phoenix 2 Melbourne Heart 0, Westpac Stadium
Newcastle Jets 1, Wellington Phoenix 0, EnergyAustralia Stadium
Wellington Phoenix 0, Central Coast Mariners 3, Westpac Stadium
Perth Glory 0, Wellington Phoenix 1, nib Stadium
Wellington Phoenix 1, Brisbane Roar 4, Westpac Stadium

Melbourne Victory:
Melbourne Victory 2, Central Coast Mariners 2, AAMI Park
Perth Glory 3, Melbourne Victory 1, nib Stadium
Melbourne Victory 0, Gold Coast United 1, Etihad Stadium
Melbourne Victory 2, Adelaide United 1, Etihad Stadium
Brisbane Roar 2, Melbourne Victory 1, Suncorp Stadium

Decisions for Ernie
Victory are unlikely to make any changes to their squad for this match, with Geoff Kellaway added in as cover. Given the massive praise heaped on Marvin Angulo by his manager last week, he should retain his spot in the starting line-up ahead of Tom Pondeljak and Mate Dugandzic. Dugandzic’s improving fitness does put him somewhere in the mix, however.

Behind Enemy Lines
Wellington have a three-day back-up into this match which is why Ricki Herbert has named an extended squad for this home match. James Musa, Simon Elliott, Dylan Macallister and Mirjan Pavlovic have all been included, with Elliott the most likely to feature after sitting out Wednesday’s match. Defender Ben Sigmund is suspended.

Our Hero
Carlos Hernandez – The Costa Rican has shown brief moments of brilliance this season, including a superb goal from a free kick last week, but hasn-t quite been able to produce it week after week. He’s building towards a big performance and it could well be in this match.

Danger man
Paul Ifill – The versatile attacking midfielder broke a six-match scoring drought with a double against Heart on Wednesday and that will do his confidence a world of good. He brings a real edge of quality to Wellington’s armoury, but will likely have to contend with Adrian Leijer.

Why we will win
Wellington are far from the force they were last season. They lack the pace and movement which caused so many team so many issues and players like Ifill and Leo Bertos haven’t enjoyed the space they did last campaign.

However, they performed well in the win over Heart on Wednesday, albeit after a slow start. Their form needs to be respected, but Melbourne should also view this as an opportunity to get a rare win in New Zealand.

The message coming out of the Victory camp this week is that the time for excuses is over. If this season is going to ignite, it has got to be know and the club needs to not only consolidate its position inside the top six but start putting pressure on those teams above them.

The return to full fitness of Archie Thompson and Robbie Kruse should make for a sharper attacking edge and the possession and shots on goal must start turning into results.

Wellington Phoenix: 1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 4. Nick WARD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 11. DANIEL, 12. James MUSA, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 14. Mirjan PAVLOVIC, 15. Jade NORTH, 17. Vince LIA, 19. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 21. Marco ROJAS, 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Dylan MACALLISTER, 26. Simon ELLIOTT
*three to be omitted*

In: James MUSA (promoted), Simon ELLIOTT (promoted), Dylan MACALLISTER (promoted), Mirjan PAVLOVIC (promoted)
Out: Ben SIGMUND (suspended – 1 game)
Unavailable: Tony LOCHHEAD (groin – 3 weeks), Oscar Roberto CORNEJO (knee – 3 weeks)

Melbourne Victory: 1.Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 2. Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3. Mate DUGANDZIC, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8.Grant BREBNER, 10. Archie THOMPSON, 11.Marvin ANGULO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13. Diogo FERREIRA, 14. Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 19. Evan BERGER, 20.Sebastian MATTEI (gk), 21. Robbie KRUSE 23. Adrian LEIJER, 27. Geoff KELLAWAY
*one to be omitted*

In: Geoff KELLAWAY (promoted)
Out: Nil
Unavailable: RICARDINHO (knee – 4 weeks), Surat SUKHA (rested)