Two of the form teams of the competition meet at the MCG on Sunday as Essendon's charge towards the top eight gathers momentum. The Bombers were at their high-paced, skillful and high-scoring best in their excellent win over North Melbourne on Sunday at Etihad Stadium, and added the Roos to their list of recent scalps, including fellow top-eight hopefuls Greater Western Sydney, Geelong and West Coast. A win over the Pies would give the Bombers' finals hopes a huge boost, but it will be no easy task. Collingwood cruised to victory over Gold Coast on the weekend, seeing them surge to second on the ladder after their hot run of form. The Pies' dynamic and unique set of forwards continue to prove hard to stop, with Josh Thomas booting another four goals against the Suns. The Bombers couldn't contain Mason Cox in their Anzac Day clash earlier this year so expect plenty of work to be put into stopping the marking Magpies target.
WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Sunday, July 8, 3.20pm AEST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide
LAST FIVE TIMES
R5, 2018, Collingwood 14.17 (101) d Essendon 7.10 (52) at the MCG
R16, 2017, Essendon 18.9 (117) d Collingwood 12.8 (80) at the MCG
R5, 2017, Essendon 15.10 (100) d Collingwood 11.16 (82) at the MCG
R5, 2016, Collingwood 22.10 (142) d Essendon 11.7 (73) at the MCG
R23, 2015, Essendon 14.11 (95) d Collingwood 14.8 (92) at the MCG
THE SIX POINTS
1. These are two of the in-form teams of the competition. Since round nine, Collingwood is the only undefeated team in the AFL and the Bombers aren't far behind with five wins and a loss in that time.
2. Collingwood will go into the game with a home-ground edge. Essendon has struggled at the MCG this season losing four of five games, with its only win occurring against Geelong in round nine. Collingwood has won five of its nine games at the venue including its past three.
3. Nothing separates the sides recently, with three wins apiece since 2015 after Collingwood had won eight of the previous 10 games between 2010-14.
4. Collingwood is the highest disposal team this season, with the Magpies still the only side averaging more than 400 a game. They are also the No.1-ranked uncontested possession team, with the Bombers mid-table for disposals.
5. The Magpies will be aiming for seven straight wins for the first time since they won 10 in a row in 2012. The Bombers are aiming for four consecutive wins for the first time since midway through 2013.
6. Jaidyn Stephenson's brilliant debut season sees him ranked the third-best first-year player in the Schick AFL Player Ratings board, behind top-placed Cat Tim Kelly and Demon Bayley Fritsch in second.
IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR …
It's been a big few weeks for Jordan De Goey with speculation over his future. But the emerging Magpies star re-signed with the club for two years on Sunday and with that discussion now over, it will be interesting to see if it has any impact on his output.
PREDICTION: Collingwood by 22 points