After a circuit-breaking victory over Sydney FC, Melbourne City now have the opportunity to hopefully build momentum with another win when they take on Western Sydney Wanderers on Tuesday night.
The 3-2 result last Tuesday over the reigning A-League champions was crucial given that it snapped a three-game losing streak and saw the team return to its best attacking form. A Jamie Maclaren brace either side of Adrian Luna’s tap-in was enough to secure the result despite a late fightback from the visitors.
The Wanderers’ most recent result was a 2-3 defeat at the hands of Adelaide United. Despite dominating the encounter in terms of shots, possession and the quality of chances created, Western Sydney just couldn’t keep out a ruthlessly efficient Reds frontline up the other end.
Here are the major talking points heading into our clash against the Wanderers:
Can we back up last week’s electric offensive performance?
City’s first-half performance against reigning champions Sydney FC last Tuesday was arguably the best 45 minutes of our season thus far, with the boys barely giving their Sky Blue opponents a sniff whilst simultaneously peppering the Sydney goal up the other end.
Whilst we’ve noted the need for another solid offensive display this Tuesday against the Wanderers, last week’s impressive performance was more so born from a disciplined and effective press that forced turnovers in dangerous central areas, which enabled the quick release of a counter-attack.
Our transitions were dictated by rapid ball progression to the wings, where the reintroduction of Andrew Nabbout was pivotal, primarily through his direct playing-style, unsettling the Sydney defence with decisive movement and passing.
With another effective pressing display and more brilliance from Nabbout, there’s no reason that City can’t string together another strong attacking performance against the Wanderers tomorrow night.
Balancing act: Team selection with a short turnaround
As was to be expected going into this unprecedented season, City may face selection dilemmas ahead of the Wanderers game with a short turnaround from Tuesday night to Saturday’s Melbourne Derby on the cards.
Looking at the current positions of our upcoming opponents, priority must surely be given to securing a positive result against fourth-placed Wanderers, even if that’s at the risk of not having a fully fit team for Saturday’s Derby.
However, options ARE available if Patrick Kisnorbo elects to rotate his starting lineup against the Wanderers. Looking through the regular starting XI, Craig Noone and Rostyn Griffiths loom as the logical choices to be rested, given their age and the existence of serviceable replacements in Naoki Tsubaki and Nuno Reis respectively.
Recent history on our side?
We’re not exactly ones to rely too heavily on recent form against an opponent, but if we historically match up nicely against the Wanderers then it’s a differential that we’ll be happy to take.
Melbourne City is undefeated in its past three encounters against the team from Sydney’s West, and have lost just once to the Wanderers in the previous five.
Even more impressive is the form of a certain prolific City striker over that period. Since joining in January 2019, Jamie Maclaren has faced the Wanderers three times, scoring on four occasions and assisting once.
Hopefully, JMac can use the fixture to build goalscoring momentum and reclaim his place as the league’s premier striker at the top of the scoring charts.