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Midweek games preview: City vs Mariners and Sydney

Melbourne City face a short turnaround from the weekend’s double-header disappointment, with our senior sides set to face Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC on Wednesday and #Hersday nights respectively.

Our A-League side are yet to find consistency early in the season and will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat to Perth Glory in order to pick themselves up from their current eighth-place standing.

In the W-League, our seventh-placed City girls are probably one loss away from having a line ruled through their Finals contention and will look to keep their slimmest of hopes alive against top-placed Sydney FC. The side’s resilient performance in their recent loss to title-contenders Brisbane Roar will inspire the side to believe in themselves until the very end.

With two pivotal games on the cards for our senior sides, here are the major talking points heading into this week’s action.

Andrew Wiseman // @wisemansports

A-League: Sort out set-piece defending

You can see it, we can see it, your mate who’s never been to a game but who you managed to drag along on Sunday night against Perth can see it… we can’t defend a set-piece to save ourselves at the moment.

Four set-piece goals conceded in four games this season. That’s ALREADY half of our tally from last campaign (only counting corners and indirect free-kicks), in which we were the worst in the league for conceding in that manner, according to Opta. It’s becoming comical.

We’re not going to pretend we give a crap about meticulously planning out our set-piece defending in Football Manager, so don’t expect any whiteboard diagram solutions from our end; We just want it sorted out.

A-League: Are the Mariners the real deal?

2020 was a strange year to say the least, but we’d argue things only got stranger in 2021 when Central Coast started to be an actually decent team.

The Mariners don’t just find themselves in second spot, they’ve also managed to do so with an uncharacteristically solid defence; they’re the best in the league currently, conceding just three goals and having kept a clean sheet in three of their five fixtures.

We can’t really blame City fans for being a little cocksure going into this one – the last three meetings have been won by Melbourne to an aggregate of 12:3 – but there is every chance that the Mariners could embarrass us this Wednesday night and really leave City in a depressing place after five games. Caution advised.

W-League: Commit to the 4-2-3-1

It took a handful of games to realise, but Rado’s beloved five-back formations aren’t going to cut the mustard this season.

The key personnel to make that formation work this year just don’t have the same quality as Carpenter and Catley did in 2019/20, and it’s now a redundant system that no longer plays to our strengths.

Andrew Wiseman // @wisemansports

Whether it was through recognising this or merely trying something new, Vidosic made the switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation in the second half against Brisbane and the chances started flowing. We’ve already covered how the new system changed the midfield dynamic on the day, but we’re keen to see it make a return against Sydney FC on Thursday night.

Another return that we’re eagerly awaiting is that of Harriet Withers to the starting lineup, having been inexplicably benched against the Roar on Sunday.

What we’re saying is that we’ve got a wishlist, Rado, and we don’t think it’s very unreasonable:

1. Ditch the wing-backs.

2. Play our best players in their best positions.

That’s all we ask.

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