The former Victory boss, now in charge of the A-League's New Zealand outfit, will be looking to get one over his old employers after losing their first meeting this seasonMelbourne Victory and Wellington need a win for different reasons when they meet at Westpac Stadium on Saturday. Kevin Muscat's undermanned Victory side claimed a surprisingly comfortably 3-1 win over Western Sydney last time out, keeping their chances of winning the Premiers' Plate alive. The Phoenix are on a four-match unbeaten run – which has included three wins – to be just five points adrift of the top six after their slow start to the season. A loss for either would hurt, but the Victory need the three points more urgently given Brisbane and Western Sydney could build a big buffer as the top two.
Can the Phoenix improve what has been a poor home record so far this season? Ernie Merrick's side have just one win from seven home matches this season, scoring just five goals in front of their home fans. A decent record away from home has helped, but the Phoenix need to start improving at Wellington if they are to make a serious push for a finals place. Scoring a few more goals would be a good start.
For the Victory this shapes as an opportunity to make it back-to-back wins for just the third time this season. A vital win over the Wanderers will count for little should they fail to back it up, despite being undermanned due to injuries and international duty. The win over Western Sydney proved the Victory have enough talent and depth to produce consistently and their line-up – if they have recovered sufficiently from Tuesday's match in the heat – has enough quality to claim three points once more.
New Zealander Kosta Barbarouses has yet to reach the levels most expected after he joined the Victory, but may be nearing some of his best form after a good display against Western Sydney. Barbarouses set up Archie Thompson's opener at AAMI Park before a wonderful finish after beating Nikolai Topor-Stanley in a one-on-one. If he can produce more of the same, Barbarouses will become a key in the Victory's attack.
The Victory look to be in good form after their win over Western Sydney and if they can attack with the same intent and quality, should overcome the Phoenix. The Victory hold an exceptional record against Wellington with 11 wins in 19 meetings between the teams and only two losses. If Muscat has James Troisi, Thompson and Barbarouses available despite the short turnaround, the Victory should be too good. The Phoenix have impressed in recent outings and will be threatening if they can take their chances, but may have to wait to improve their home record.
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