Preview: “Second Comes Right After First!”
Sydney FC are going to win the Premiers Plate. That’s just a fact at this point. They are runaway league leaders, and it would take nothing short of a miracle for any team to catch them now. This means that the goal for the remaining clubs is second place and a shot at the Asian Champions League. The two front runners for this spot? Our beloved Melbourne City and those purple gronks from Australia’s biggest backwater, Perth Glory.
This Sunday night our City boys cross the Nullarbor and travel back in time to a sad old place called Western Australia. City and the Glory will both be desperate for a result in this game, with the winner gaining the ascendancy in the battle for second place. This game, as so often is at this point in the year, is a true six-pointer.
City come into this one off the back of a hard-fought (but let’s be honest, very boring) 1-0 win over Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park last weekend. It may not have been a five-star champagne performance, but winning games ugly is the sign of a good team, and is never an easy task.
It was hot and humid, and Brisbane set up with a classic parked bus formation which made it very difficult for us to break them down. Despite the winner coming through an own goal by Brisbane keeper Jamie Young, City were clearly the dominant team for the entire match. City registered 14 shots to Brisbane’s 5 and looked mostly comfortable throughout the match.
Whilst the defence held strong, City seemed to struggle at the attacking end of the park. Jamie Young pulling out several save of the season contenders didn’t help, but City also looked rather toothless at times, with Maclaren continuing his run of poor form and none of our other players really having their shooting or crossing boots on. Whilst clearly the stronger team, it is a worrying sign that we struggled to make the most of our chances, a luxury we can’t afford against a side as strong as Perth.
On that rather unpleasant topic, the Glory have had a strange couple of weeks. After their bye three weeks ago they’ve been held to a 1-1 draw by Brisbane, lost 2-1 to the lowly Newcastle Jets, had a trip to Korea for the Asian Champions League postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak and had a sale to an obviously extremely dodgy cryptocurrency firm from London fall apart after it was revealed that the CEO of the firm was being sued for fraud. Just your average month in Perth I guess?
The Glory looked all at sea against the 10th placed Jets. They looked toothless up front and lost at the back. They also conceded one of the best A-League goals of all time as Nikolai Topor-Stanley sent an absolute thunderbastard into the roof of Liam Reddy’s net from 30 yards out. That’s gotta hurt.
Whilst Perth are obviously still a very strong side, and not a challenge to be taken lightly, all of the signs seem to be suggesting that they are currently ripe for the picking, and should we manage to knock them off on the weekend we will find ourselves in the box seat for that much-coveted second position on the table.
I’m predicting a win that would see us grab that Asian Champions League spot. After all, finally securing Asian football right as a massive global pandemic causes international football competitions to be cancelled is just about the most Melbourne City thing we could ever do.
Final Prediction: Perth 1 - 2 City