State of play: Premier’s Plate race

A Club-record 11-game unbeaten run in the A-League Men competition has given Melbourne Victory hope of making a late push for the Premier’s Plate.

The FFA Cup Champions are finding form at the right time of the season, earning 13 points from their busy stretch of five fixtures already this month to reignite the race at the top.

It’s a three-headed Melburnian beast jostling for silverware and pole position heading into what is shaping as an exciting Finals series.

Melbourne City (46 points from 24 games) and Western United (44 from 23) lead Victory (38 from 22) in the 26-game race for Premiership glory.

It will take a near-perfect four-game stretch to close out the campaign for Victory to give themselves a chance to surpass their rivals but one they’re capable of achieving if recent form holds true.

A road trip to Macarthur on Friday kicks off the closing stretch, followed by Brisbane away, Wellington at home and Sydney away.

“I think this run is a fantastic run,” Popovic told media after their win over Newcastle on Saturday.

“Five games, 14 days, with all the travel and the big games we’ve had, with the return of points that we’ve got is great.

“But I believe there’s more. There’s definitely more to improve, it’s still a new team.

“What we’re showing is we have a wonderful mentality. When we’re not at our best, we can get a result and when we play very well, we can win.”

Heading towards what will hopefully be Victory’s first Finals appearance since the 2018/19 season, the Club will be buoyed by their form against well-positioned opponents.

Victory holds winning records this season over first-placed Melbourne City (1-2-0), second-placed Western United (2-1-0) and fourth-placed Adelaide (2-1-0).

The team will also draw confidence from their elite defensive prowess heading into the final month.

Victory’s 21 goals conceded in 22 matches is clearly best in the league despite a number of changes made to the line throughout the campaign.

With four games left and all to play for, it’s sure to be a pulsating finish to a gripping season.