Both sides will be desperate for points when they meet on Friday night. Melbourne City are now winless in five games since winning the FFA Cup Final over Sydney FC in November and adding to their woes is that coach John v’ant Schip left the club with immediate effect earlier in the week.
City scraped through with a draw against Central Coast last week after looking as though they would lose but still needed a late Bruno Fornaroli penalty to salvage a point while the Wanderers had yet another 1-1 draw, this time, against Perth at ANZ Stadium.
The departure of v’ant Schip may fire up the troops of Melbourne City. We saw it with Wellington when Ernie Merrick left the club a month ago and the Phoenix haven’t lost a match since.
City has conceded an average of two goals a game in their last three outings but more worrying for them has been the fact that they’ve given up a lead in their last four games, going on to lose once (against Melbourne Victory) and to draw the other three.
WONDERING WHAT TO DO
Coach Tony Popovic seems to have thrown everything but the kitchen sink in pursuit of getting a much needed win for his side. The WSW now have eight draws on the season along with two wins and three losses. Of those draws, five of them have been 1-1 results while the other three have been 2-2 score lines.
The Wanderers were unlucky not to snatch all three points against Perth last week as they had the majority of chances in the match but couldn’t finish off where it counted.
The Wanderers have only lost once in their last six A-league fixtures against City and have won three times during that span. When they met earlier in the season at Spotless Stadium it was 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes. While City has struggled to get the points against them in the past, it must be remembered that they had to go through the Wanderers to win the FFA Cup, beating them 4-1 in their quarter-final.
HOW IT PANS OUT
One thing that we can say with almost near certainty is that this match won’t finish in a nil-all draw.Defence hasn’t been top-of-mind for either side lately with City conceding 10 goals in their past six matches while Western Sydney has nine during that same span. Another damning statistic for the ‘back four’ is that both sides have only managed one clean sheet during the A-league season. So that said the strikers could be in for a good match here but who Popovic selects to lead from the front will be interesting as Brendon Santalab, who heads the Wanderers with six goals, missing due to suspension. Scoring has been a real issue for the Wanderers who are averaging 1.3 goals per game so it won’t be any surprise to see Socceroo Terry Antonis, on loan from Greece, make his debut for the Red and Blacks as he is sure to add a bit of firepower to the side.
On the flip side of things, scoring hasn’t been an issue for City who averaging nearly two goals a game but are leaning heavily on gun striker Bruno Fornaroli (10) and marquee man Tim Cahill (five). They will be without Fernando Brandan who missed last week’s game due to suspension.
The advantage is definitely with Melbourne City in what should be a fairly even contest.
Whenever a coach leaves, their side always seem to lift and that may be enough for them to get the decision over the Wanderers but the visitors aren’t without a hope either as only Melbourne Victory (twice) and Sydney FC have managed to beat them in the league so far.
THE TIP: Western Sydney – City has failed to make AAMI Park a fortress this season, going 3-2-2 there after winning 10 and drawing twice in 15 matches at the venue in their previous campaign
TOTAL GOALS OVER/UNDER 2.5: Overs – an average of four goals per game has been scored between the sides in their past six clashes
1ST GOALSCORER: Tim Cahill – our greatest ever Socceroo has registered in three straight games for City with each of those being the opener