Talking City's talking points: W-League Derby and City vs Newcastle
It’s Derby day for the City girls as they prepare for tonight’s clash against Melbourne Victory at ABD Stadium in Broadmeadows.
In the A-League, we’ll be taking on Newcastle Jets away from home this Sunday as we look to bounce back from our disappointing 0-3 home loss to Perth last Friday.
With the W-League Derby the far more significant of the two clashes, whilst also preceding the A-League game by several days, we’ve restructured this week’s ‘talking points’ into a bit of a W-League mega-preview, with our regular A-League talking point also included towards the end.
A Defining Derby
Despite their arduous first month, the well-travelled W-League squad have emerged from their first four games with ten points, remaining undefeated to find themselves in second behind Western Sydney.
Tonight brings another huge test however, with Melbourne Victory tipped as one of the end-of-season favourites having made it to the Semi-Finals in 2018/19.
Victory are unlucky to find themselves in sixth at present; following a loss to Sydney, a win over Brisbane and a draw with Western Sydney, they’ll have played all four of the league’s most stacked teams by the time the Derby’s over.
Here are some of the talking points ahead of tonight's Melbourne Derby:
Contesting for top spot
After a slow start, it’s a huge testament to the City girls to have dealt with squad injuries and late player arrivals to post a solid ten points after four games, second to the Wanderers on goal difference alone.
A win tonight would guarantee us top spot for a while, with Western Sydney having the bye this weekend.
From Victory’s perspective, a Derby loss puts them behind the pack in regards to qualifying for finals, which only the top four teams can compete in.
Victory have the recent head-to-head advantage
We always think of our W-League side as being such an invariably dominant force, but that hasn’t been the case of late, and that fact is only exemplified by our recent form against the crosstown rivals.
Victory have won four of the past five Melbourne Derbies, including twice last season, with the most recent Derby ending 1-0 thanks to an 88th minute winner from Christine Nairne.
Incredibly, we haven’t won a Derby since November 3, 2017, when Rebekah Stott scored the only goal in our 1-0 win.
A dual-club Captain and Champion
It’s a feat you’re unlikely to see achieved in the men’s side of the game given the vitriol between the two teams, but Melbourne Derbies will always hold particular importance to Steph Catley, who’s captained both City and Victory to W-League championships, winning it with Victory in 2013/14 and three times with City from 2015/16-2017/18.
Catley recently made her 50th appearance for City, which is an impressive achievement in the W-League where many players are forced to play on one-season contracts due to being loaned from their NWSL sides.
However, Catley’s also made 64 appearances for the Victory, having debuted at just 15 back in 2009 against Perth.
Steph, we’ll need you to stick around for a least another season, thanks.
A-League: Position belies performance
Much like we discussed with Perth last week (look how that turned out), Newcastle’s eighth-place position actually understates the performances they’ve put in against the big teams this year.
Aside from their 4-1 thumping at the hands of Sydney (and who can blame them?), they’ve pushed Adelaide twice now, losing both matches 2-1 but have recently secured important wins over Western United and Western Sydney, winning those games 2-1 and 2-0 respectively.
It’s a case of ‘what-if’ with Newy; converting their respective 1-1 draws with Central Coast and Perth into wins would’ve seen them in fifth-place with a game in-hand on the teams above.
City have typically responded with admirable resilience following our previous failures this season, but it’s important not to underestimate the Jets, whose recent performances are arguably defying pre-season expectations placed on the perennial cellar-dwellers.