Even though Newcastle hasn’t won in two matches, it returns to the Hunter Valley with a great degree of confidence this week having picked up a vital share of the spoils in last week’s 2 v 3 encounter with Melbourne City at AAMI Park. And, better yet, the Jets could this week welcome back star striker Roy O’Donovan from a long-term groin injury, with Dimitri Petratos also to return after missing last week’s game to attend the birth of his child. Melbourne Victory isn’t exactly in bad form, having only lost two of its last eight matches, however, last week’s 3-1 loss to Sydney FC would have really brought Kevin Muscat’s side back down to earth after going into that game confident it could get the win. Additionally, Victory has also been rocked this week by the departure of Socceroos vice-captain Mark Milligan to Saudi Arabia, which leaves a big hole in the centre of the park for Muscat to fill. Victory has won four of their last five games away from home this season, but their record historically at McDonald Jones Stadium is terrible – and that tips the ledger in favour of the home team this week. These sides played out a thrilling Round 13 encounter at AAMI Park, which Victory won 2-1, while the Jets won 4-1 in Newcastle back in Round 8.
Key stat: Melbourne Victory has won just one of its past 11 games at McDonald Jones Stadium, picking up five draws and five losses during that run.
First Goal Scorer
Old Melbourne Victory players are making a habit of finding the back of the net against their former team this season. Vince Lia did it twice – spectacularly – in Round 3, while others to punish their former side have been Connor Pain, Daniel Georgievski and Andrew Nabbout. The last two players on that list front up against Victory again this week, with Nabbout continuing to excel at his new home. The young attacker has scored eight goals this season, surpassing the soon-to-return Roy O’Donovan (seven goals) and in form playmaker Dimitri Petratos (seven). He will be keen to make his presence felt again this week and is a shrewd selection for first goal scorer.
First Goal Scorer: Andrew Nabbout (Newcastle)
Value pick: Newcastle and over 2.5 goals (result over/under double)