This is a massive match in the context of the season. Melbourne City, third, host Newcastle, second, to open Round 18. After a topsy turvy Round 17, the Jets’ gap to the chasing pack is now just four points. But if Ernie Merrick’s men can come to Melbourne and take all three points, thus opening up a seven-point gap on third-placed City with nine rounds to play, then the top two is looking like a lock. Conversely, a City win here would bridge the gap to just one point between themselves and the Jets, which would well and truly open up the race for that all-important top two spot. City go into this one with their tails up having recorded a 5-0 hammering of Adelaide on Sunday night, equalling the club’s biggest ever win. Newcastle, meanwhile, were shocked 3-2 at home by lowly Wellington. The main question mark over this one is City’s ability to back-up after a four-day break. But at home – and in form, having taken 10 of a possible 12 points in their last four games – City might be just too good here.
Key stat: Melbourne City has conceded just seven goals in nine home games this season, by far the least of any side.
City young gun Daniel Arzani is lighting up the A-League starring with five direct goal involvements in his six appearances. The 19-year-old has all the trickery, time for him to get his own name on the scoresheet.
Key stat: Newcastle scored the first goal when these sides met at McDonald Jones Stadium in Round 9, but still went on to lose the match.