Clashes between these two bitter rivals are always tribal affairs, but this one has a bit of extra pepper on top given what's at stake for both clubs. The Blues need to win to stay in the hunt for a finals berth while the Bombers are desperate to arrest a form slump in which, for the first time in their history, they have lost four consecutive games by at least 45 points. Carlton will enter the match as favourite after it overcame the loss of several key players to upset Richmond at the MCG, but if this contest doesn’t drag some vigour out of the Dons, nothing will.

WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Saturday August 24, 7.50pm

R18, 2011, Carlton 24.9 (153) d Essendon 12.7 (79) at the MCG
1EF, 2011, Carlton 21.23 (149) d Essendon 13.9 (87) at the MCG
R4, 2012, Essendon 15.19 (109) d Carlton 11.13 (79) at the MCG
R21, 2012, Carlton 24.12 (156) d Essendon 8.12 (60) at the MCG
R11, 2013, Essendon 11.11 (77) d Carlton 10.12 (72) at the MCG

1. In the opening 17 rounds Essendon averaged 107 points a game while conceding 81, but in the past four rounds have averaged just 69 points for and 127 against.

2. Essendon is ranked second in the AFL in total disposals this season, while Carlton is 14th.

3. Essendon defeated Carlton by five points at the MCG in a round-11 thriller after trailing by 31 points in the third quarter.

4. Jake Melksham – ranked 191 in the Official AFL Player Ratings – kicked three goals, including the match-winner, in round 11, while Blues' veteran Jarrad Waite – his club's fourth-ranked forward – starred with a career-high seven goals.

5. Essendon has won two of the past three clashes between the sides, but since 2011 the Blues hold a narrow advantage with three wins to two, and one draw.

6. Carlton and Essendon have met only four times in round 22, with Essendon leading 3-1.