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Last Time We Met: Essendon Before we clash again at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, check out all the highlights from our last encounter with the Bombers

Adelaide and Essendon have met 36 times. The overall ledger is even at 18 wins apiece.

The Crows have won the past three clashes between the teams by an average margin of 86 points.

The two sides met in Round Four at Adelaide Oval where the home team ran out 65-point victors.

Saturday night’s match will be Adelaide’s first at Etihad Stadium this season. The Crows haven’t played at the Docklands venue since Round Seven last year.

The Bombers are one of the form teams in the competition, having won four of their last five games to sit eighth on the ladder.

Adelaide (2,141) and Essendon (1,858) are ranked first and third, respectively, for points scored.

The Bombers are the best first-quarter team in the League having scored 524 points in opening quarters this season.

However, Adelaide got the jump on Essendon earlier this season. The Crows kicked 9.2 in the first term to lead by 36 points at quarter-time.

It was a night for small forwards at Adelaide Oval in Round Four with Eddie Betts booting six, and lively Bombers Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Travis Colyer combing for seven goals.

As a Crow, Betts has kicked 19 goals in four games against Essendon.

Betts (third) and McDonald-Tipungwuti (sixth) are also elite pressure players – both are ranked top 10 for forward 50m tackles.

The speedy McDonald-Tipungwuti has applied more rundown tackles (11) than any other player this season.

Essendon will be without another of its other star smalls this week, with South Australian Orazio Fantasia ruled out because of a hamstring injury.

The leading possession-getter last time these teams met, midfielder Zach Merrett will also miss Saturday night’s match through suspension.

Merrett is ranked third in the AFL for total disposals (584) behind Crow Matt Crouch (612) and Hawthorn recruit Tom Mitchell (676).

Crouch, who leads The Age newspaper’s Player of the Year award, is putting together some sort of season. The 22-year-old is third in the League for ground-ball gets (195), fourth for effective disposals (433), hard-ball gets (107) and assisted metres gained (7,015.2), which are metres gained by teammates resulting from his direct possessions. The left-footer is also seventh for contested possessions (253), 12th for clearances (113) and 16th for unique score involvements with 135.

Crows vice-captain Rory Sloane has averaged 28 possessions, eight tackles and a goal in his past four clashes with the Bombers.

Sloane received three Brownlow Medal votes when Adelaide beat Essendon in Round 19, 2016.

The hear-and-soul onballer is 10th in the competition for inside 50ms (85).

The free-wheeling Bombers move the ball through the centre corridor the second-most of any team, and play on from the mark 36.1 per cent of the time – ranked third among all teams.

They score from 51.9 per cent of their inside 50ms – ranked No.1. The Crows are second, scoring with 51.1 per cent of their forays forward.

Creative Essendon defender Michael Hurley leads the League for rebound 50ms with 135 and combined inside and rebound 50ms (157). 

Crows defender Rory Laird is equal-fifth for combined inside and rebound 50ms (146).

Laird has generated more points for his team from intercept possessions (146) than any other player in the competition. Teammate Brodie Smith is third (113) while Hurley is fourth (112).

Hurley is also third for effective kicks (243) and fourth for marks (143). He ranks third for intercept possessions (128) while Crow Jake Lever is equal-fourth (124).

Bombers forward Joe Daniher is sixth for marks with 134, including 53 inside 50m – ranked equal-fourth. Swingman Cale Hooker is equal-second for contested marks (44).

Daniher leads the Coleman Medal race with 56 goals – two ahead of West Coast spearhead Josh Kennedy (54). Captain Taylor Walker leads Adelaide’s goalkicking with 46 – ranked fifth overall. The Crows could be without their two preferred match-ups for Daniher this week, with Daniel Talia facing a fitness test on a sore groin and Kyle Hartigan (hamstring) unavailable.

Walker is the leading goal (28) and score (38) assist player in the competition.

Showdown Medallist Sam Jacobs ranks second for hit-outs to advantage (213).

Essendon is a high-possession team, averaging 397.3 per game – ranked third in the AFL.