Take a look at our comprehensive preview of Essendon's clash with Gold Coast on Wednesday night.
GOLD COAST v ESSENDON
Wednesday, August 12
Live on Channel 7
Games played - 10
Won – 8
Lost – 2
1. Searching for five in a row
This is a match-up that has been kind to Essendon, which has won its past four against Gold Coast. Should the streak continue on Wednesday night, the Suns will draw level with the Kangaroos as the Bombers' friendliest opponents.
2. Three games in 10 days
Essendon enters round 11 on the back of a five-day break, while Gold Coast has had an extra day of recovery. The Bombers must front up again on Sunday to face the Saints, while the Suns will again have an extra day of rest before playing against Richmond on Monday night. While it's a challenging scenario for the Bombers, they've managed to cope relatively well so far, losing just Michael Hurley and Sam Draper (both managed) from last week's side. The Suns have opted not to rest anyone.
3. Missing duo a rare sight
A line-up without Michael Hurley AND Cale Hooker? Notwithstanding the duo's suspended season in 2016, can you believe it's happened just once since round 18, 2012? That time came against the Dockers in the final home and away game of the 2017 season - a pulsating 15-point win at Marvel Stadium that saw the Dons clinch a finals berth. Hurley and Hooker join fellow All Australians Dyson Heppell, Jake Stringer and Joe Daniher on the sidelines for round 11, with another All Australian - Dylan Shiel - to lead the side as stand-in skipper.
4. Pressure, pressure, pressure...
...it's the golden word again. Ranked second overall in the pressure factor over the last five rounds, the Suns will bring the heat. That shouldn't worry the Bombers, who have made pressure - they are third for tackles and second for tackles inside 50 - their trademark this season. The challenge is to sustain the pressure long enough, as we saw in last week's second-half fadeout against the Giants.
5. The common denominators in Suns' wins
The Suns have won the contested possessions and clearances in all their victories except one this season, when the Swans bettered them for contested ball. Their games have had the third most contested possessions on average, while they sit a lowly 14th for uncontested possessions. It all points to a high-pressure, scrappy contest played in tight confines on a greasy deck at Metricon Stadium, which often isn't conducive to attractive football at night. The Bombers will look to capitalise on their advantage in centre clearances, ranked fourth to the Suns' 12th in this area.
LAST TIME WE MET
Round 19, 2019: Gold Coast 15.6 (96) lost to Essendon 16.10 (106) at Metricon Stadium
Essendon survived a huge scare in a come-from-behind win against the bottom-placed Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium last season.
The Suns looked set to snap a 13-game losing streak when leading by 27 points early in third term, until the Bombers surged with the last six goals of that term to take an eight-point lead at the final break.
It was far from a fait accompli, however, as the Suns hit back to lead in the dying stages.
But with the most clutch of set-shot goals inside the final minute, Cale Hooker stepped up again to snatch the lead.
A 70m long bomb from Jake Stringer out of the following centre clearance sealed the deal, with the explosive Bomber booting four goals and changing the game's momentum with his move to midfield.
Shaun McKernan (four goals, 15 disposals, eight marks) was judged best afield in the Bombers' fifth consecutive win, earning three Brownlow votes for the first time in his career.
Round eight: Lost to Western Bulldogs 6.10 (46) to 7.9 (51) at Metricon Stadium
Round nine: Lost to GWS 4.11 (35) to 9.7 (61) at Metricon Stadium
Round 10: Lost to St Kilda 11.8 (74) to 12.6 (78) at Metricon Stadium
The Suns may be staring down the barrel of four consecutive losses, but have been far better than their formline suggests.
Vastly improved from last season, their ledger sits at 4-6 but could have easily been flipped given the narrow losses to the Bulldogs (five points) and Saints (four points).
With the additions of experienced big-bodied midfielders Hugh Greenwood and Brandon Ellis, the goalkicking threats in emerging stars Ben King and Izak Rankine, and a raft of talented youngsters adapting to a game-plan that is hard to crack, the Suns will ensure the Bombers have their work cut out.
Round eight: Defeated Adelaide 9.8 (62) to 8.11 (59) at Adelaide Oval
Round nine: Lost to Brisbane 3.10 (28) to 14.7 (91) at Metricon Stadium
Round 10: Lost to GWS 8.7 (55) to 8.11 (59) at Metricon Stadium
After a 4-1 start to the season, the Bombers have lost three of their past four games to find themselves fighting for finals survival.
They were left to rue a missed opportunity against the Giants last week, blowing a 29-point lead in the second term to lose by a kick.
Their injury-hit forward line was dealt another blow, too, with a concussed Jacob Townsend joining Jayden Laverde, Joe Daniher, Jake Stringer, Orazio Fantasia and Cale Hooker on the sidelines.
With matches against top-eight sides St Kilda, Richmond, Geelong, Port Adelaide and West Coast still to come, the Bombers can ill-afford a defeat to the Suns.
Backs: Connor Budarick, Sam Collins, Jack Lukosius
Half-backs: Will Powell, Charlie Ballard, Jarrod Harbrow
Centre: Lachie Weller, Hugh Greenwood, Brandon Ellis
Half-forwards: Noah Anderson, Sam Day, Ben Ainsworth
Forwards: Izak Rankine, Ben King, Josh Corbett
Followers: Jarrod Witts, David Swallow, Touk Miller
Interchange: Jack Bowes, Brayden Fiorini, Sean Lemmens, Sam Flanders
Emergencies: Alex Sexton, Nick Holman, Darcy Macpherson, Caleb Graham
In: Flanders, Fiorini, Corbett
Out: Sharp (injured), Sexton (omitted), Holman (omitted)
New: Sam Flanders (Gippsland Power)
Backs: Martin Gleeson, Aaron Francis, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher
Half-backs: Jordan Ridley, Mason Redman, Adam Saad
Centre: Tom Cutler, Zach Merrett, Darcy Parish
Half-forwards: Devon Smith, David Zaharakis, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti
Forwards: Kyle Langford, James Stewart, Will Snelling
Followers: Tom Bellchambers, Dylan Shiel, Andrew McGrath
Interchange: Shaun McKernan, Matt Guelfi, Conor McKenna, Dylan Clarke
Emergencies: Andrew Phillips, Michael Hurley, Brayden Ham, Josh Begley
In: Clarke, Bellchambers, Gleeson
Out: Hurley (managed), Draper (managed), Townsend (concussion)
BOMBER TO WATCH
After breaking through for 11 senior games last season and proving himself as one of the League's best taggers, Dylan Clarke's absence this season has been a talking point among the Essendon faithful.
The fourth-year midfielder finally gets his chance this week, having been one of the most consistent performers in the scratch matches on the Gold Coast.
The Bombers have opted not to use a tagger so far this season, with opposition stars Lachie Neale, Jack Macrae and Stephen Coniglio letting loose in recent weeks.
But in Clarke, who added Patrick Cripps, Jaeger O'Meara, Ben Cunnington and Luke Parker to his list of scalps last season, coach John Worsfold has that option up his sleeve on Wednesday night.
He may have been playing just his 10th game, but Ben King gave the Bombers some serious headaches in this fixture last season.
The No.6 draft pick was a constant threat, booting four goals in a breakout game as he and fellow tall Sam Day combined for seven.
Leading the Suns for goals (16) and sitting equal 10th in the Coleman Medal, King enters this clash fresh from a three-goal haul against the Saints and will line up against a defence missing key pillars Michael Hurley and Cale Hooker.