WHAT’S HAPPENED?Do not be fooled by their spot on the A-league table – Melbourne City aren’t going well. While City are currently third on the table you have to put that in relative terms. Firstly, they are 14 points off leader’s Sydney FC; secondly they are nine points behind Derby rivals Victory; and finally they have just one win since winning the FFA Cup in November. Make no mistake that City thanks to Tim Cahill, Bruno Fornaroli, Fernando Brandan and Luke Brattan, just to name a few, are a class team but their form has dipped from the glitz and glamour they put on show at the start of the season.
CLOSE BUT NOT CLOSE ENOUGHCentral Coast once again stretched a team the whole 90 minutes last week but as has been the case all too often this season, they left with nothing to show for it. The defeat to the Phoenix was the Mariners seventh game without a win and their fifth loss in the last six games. On the positive though, Wellington then beat Melbourne Victory on Tuesday and ended their six-game winning run so the formline isn’t too bad is it? Defensively Central Coast has struggled, just as they did last season, with an average of three goals conceded in their past six games and no clean sheets since Round 7.
HOW IT PANS OUTThese teams only met three weeks ago and Paul Okon’s side were unlucky not to have beaten City. Trailing 1-0 before scoring two second-half goals, the Mariners had them on toast until a late penalty saw the ledger squared. Importantly that game was on the Central Coast whereas this time the match will be played at AAMI Park where City has picked up four wins and two draws from eight matches. Recent history between the sides sees City with the advantage, having beaten the Mariners quite comfortably in three straight games prior to their last-start draw.
THE VERDICTWhatever way you look at it both teams are going to be playing desperately for the points. City have had a serious hangover since beating Sydney FC in the FFA Cup Final and have had a further blow with their coach quitting just a fortnight ago. They definitely have the class to turn it on when needed but is their attitude starting to become an issue? Adelaide have been playing poorly yet still managed to come from behind to get the win. One thing is almost assured and that is that Melbourne City will begin quickly. They have scored first in the majority of their games this season, however, Central Coast have a knack of hanging tough. The Mariners definitely aren’t out of this one and if you fancy a bit of value then definitely take them or the draw, however, logic says that City at home will be too strong for the bottom-placed team.
THE TIP: Melbourne City
‘TOTAL GOALS OVER/UNDER 2.5’: Overs
‘TIME OF FIRST GOAL SCORED’: 0-15 minutes