Melbourne City - Newcastle Jets Preview

Bruno Fornaroli is desperate to take City to the AFC Champions League for the first time, while the Jets are looking to end a five-game winless run

Melbourne City will hope their enviable home record againstNewcastleJetscan help them maintain their hold on third spot in the A-League as they dream of Asia.

SQUADS

Melbourne City squad:1.Thomas SORENSEN (gk), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3.Josh ROSE, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 6.Osama MALIK, 8.Neil KILKENNY, 9.Nicolas COLAZO, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Bruce KAMAU, 12.Nick FITZGERALD, 14.Daniel ARZANI, 17.Tim CAHILL, 18.Paulo RETRE, 21.Ruon TONGYIK, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI (c), 26.Luke BRATTAN, 34.Denis GENREAU, 40.Yaren SOZER (gk)

**two to be omitted**

Ins:2.Manny MUSCAT (returns from suspension), 14.Daniel ARZANI (promoted), 34.Denis GENREAU (promoted)

Outs:27.Fernando BRANDAN (ACL – season)

Unavailable:7.Corey GAMEIRO (ACL – season), 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk) (suspended – 1 match), 28.Steve KUZMANOVSKI (ACL – season)

NewcastleJetssquad:2.Daniel MULLEN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Mateo POLJAK, 9.Aleksandr KOKKO, 10.Wayne BROWN, 12.Harrison SAWYER, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 15.Andrew NABBOUT,18.MALeilei, 19.Morten NORDSTRAND, 20.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 28.John KOUTROUMBIS, 29.Joel ALLWRIGHT, 50.Tomislav ARCABA (gk)

**two to be omitted**

Ins:12.Harrison SAWYER (promoted), 13.Ivan VUJICA (promoted), 20.JACK DUNCAN (gk) (returns from injury), 29.Joel ALLWRIGHT (promoted)

Outs:3.Jason HOFFMAN (suspended – 1 match), 30.Pierce CLARK (gk) (omitted)

Unavailable:1.Ben KENNEDY (gk) (Achilles – season), 16.Nicholas COWBURN (international duty), 21.Daniel ALESSI (knee – season)

BLUFFER'S GUIDE

City will enter Saturday night's game at AAMI Park knowing a win will ensure they stay third in the A-League table for another week - an important step as they look to secure a home elimination final and potential AFC Champions League (ACL) qualification for 2018.

Playing in Asia's premier club competition is a key goal for club owners City Football Group, while finishing third would also improve the Bundoora-based outfit's chances of winning a maiden A-League championship in 2016-17.

Brattan: I want to play overseas

The A-League premiers and champions qualify automatically for the ACL, while a play-off berth is reserved for second-place in the regular season.

But with every A-League champion having come from the top two throughout the competition's history; it is reasonable to expect finishing third will see City playing in Asia next year.

City (33 points) face a fight for that third spot, however, as fourth-placed Brisbane Roar are behind only on goal difference, while Perth Glory - who are fifth - are on 32 points.

With only two home games remaining before the A-League finals, City will need to make the most of this week's match againstNewcastle.

TheJetshave only beaten City once in their past eight trips south to face the Victorian club.

In previous meetings this season, City defeatedNewcastle2-1 in November, while theJetsreciprocated in January in Coffs Harbour.

Jets could link with Chilean club

Mark Jones'Jetslose full-back Jason Hoffman for this match through suspension but regain goalkeeper Jack Duncan from injury.

Fernando Brandan is the big out for the home side, with the Argentine winger having suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury at training earlier this month.

Newcastlecould move into the A-League's top six with a three-goal victory.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Both sides had a week off last week as part of the A-League's split round.

Newcastlewill hope that extra break can spark their misfiring attack, which has scored just two goals in their past four matches.

If theJetsare to end their five-game winless run, they need more from veteran forwards Morten Nordstrand (3 goals) and Aleksandr Kokko (1).

City entered their extended layoff after putting three goals past Central Coast Mariners with marquee striker Bruno Fornaroli scoring twice.

Fornaroli's winner came from the penalty spot - the eighth spot-kick converted by City this term, which is the best in the A-League.

That should worry theJetsas their skipper Nigel Boogaard has conceded three penalties this season - the most of any A-League player alongside City defender Manny Muscat.

WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Nicholas Cowburn. TheJetsfull-back will be unavailable for this match as he is the only A-League player to have been selected for an Australian development squad that will spend the next week in Spain.

FORM LINES

Melbourne City: LDWLW

NewcastleJets: LDLDL

PREDICTION

Melbourne City 2-1NewcastleJets


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