Hyundai A-League preview: Phoenix v Victory

A red-hot Melbourne Victory meets a Wellington side seeking some sort of pre-Christmas consistency. QBE Stadium hosts Phoenix for the first time but which of these two attack-minded outfits will start December with a win?

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Saturday, 5 December 2015

Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory

QBE Stadium, North Shore, Auckland

Kick-Off: 7:15 PM (Local) (5:15 PM (AEDT))

Referee: Alan Milliner

Assistant Referee 1: Mark Rule

Assistant Referee 2: Glen Lochrie

Fourth Official: Alex King

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 4 (New Zealand)

#WELvMVC

Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, ABC Local radio Vic, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live; Radio Sport Extra (NZ) and via i-Heart Radio

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #WELvMVC

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets 

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Glen MOSS (GK), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3.Justin GULLEY, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 7.Jeffrey SARPONG, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 10.Michael MCGLINCHEY, 11.Kwabena APPIAH, 12.Blake Powell, 13.Albert RIERA, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Vince LIA, 18.Ben SIGMUND, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Matthew RIDENTON

**two to be omitted**

Wellington Phoenix's central defensive pair Andrew Durante and Ben Sigmund.

Ins: 11.Kwabena APPIAH (promoted), 18.Ben SIGMUND (returns from injury)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: Nil

Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (GK), 2.Jason GERIA, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM (c), 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 11.Connor PAIN, 13.Oliver BOZANIC, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE, 18.Dylan MURNANE, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 24.Thomas DENG

Thomas Deng

Ins: 11.Connor PAIN (promoted), 24.Thomas DENG (promoted)

Outs: 19.George HOWARD (omitted), 21.Carl VALERI (illness)

Unavailable: 3.Scott GALLOWAY (suspended), 4.Nick ANSELL (injured), 10.Archie THOMPSON (injured)

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

These two sides clash for the second time this season after Victory were comfortable 3-0 winners at home a month ago. That win kick-started a storming November for the visitors, who have won four straight games, scoring eleven goals.

At times, the Phoenix have looked as good as anyone in the competition, but they’ve been unable to sustain that form for long periods. Anything less than their best won’t be good enough against a Victory side that has historically had their number.

This is the first of two Phoenix “home” games to be played outside of Wellington this season and the first time they have played at the former home of the now-defunct New Zealand Knights.

QBE Stadium

OPTA DATA

* These two sides have met 25 times in the A-League, with the Phoenix winning four times, Victory fifteen times and six draws. The Victory have been kept scoreless in just three of these 25 matches.

* There have been 33 goals scored in the last eight fixtures between these two (average 4.1 per game).

* Besart Berisha has scored five times in his last three A-League games and has netted six times in eight meetings with the Phoenix.

* Victory haven’t lost a first-30-minute or middle-30-minute period all season, but have won just two out of seven last-30-minute periods.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has worked tirelessly on his side’s front-third play, so far with less reward than he would have hoped. There was little to enthuse about in last Thursday’s drab stalemate with Sydney FC, but Roy Krishna, Roly Bonevacia and Michael McGlinchey are all capable of finding the net. Jeffrey Sarpong remains a work in progress.

It’s all the “B’s” for Victory with Golden Boot leader Besart Berisha, Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Kiwi Kosta Barbarouses enough to give any defence heart palpitations. Behind them, Gui Finkler is also a constant threat. It is little wonder Victory are early-season favourites to win back-to-back A-League titles.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Phoenix goalkeeper Glen Moss plays his 100th A-League game for the Phoenix against the same side he played his first Phoenix game against and the team he joined in the 2009/10 season. Moss’s A-League debut (for the New Zealand Knights in 2005) was on this same ground.