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Talking point preview: City vs Western United

Memories of a rescheduled Melbourne Derby quickly went to the back of City fans' minds as it was announced a season-defining top-of-the-table clash against the third team in Victoria, Western United, would be taking its place.


It's a fixture that we in City blue haven't paid much attention to in games gone by; at the beginning, we simply swiped them to the side with five wins in a row. But now with three consecutive losses against the team in green and black from some ill-defined place in the "west", and more importantly with a season-long battle for top spot heating up, we have what truly feels like the biggest game of the season tonight.


Here are the biggest talking points heading into it:


Source: Andrew Wiseman (@wisemansports)

Unstoppable force meets immovable object

The best attack versus the best defence, a team that loves to have all of the ball against the a team that is happy to park the bus all game, and the most lethal striker against the most steadfast centre-back in the league. The two best teams in the A-League Men couldn't be any more different and it's going to take every bit of discipline, creativity and sheer willpower for your City boys to come out on top of the clash.


Both encounters with the WU this season have ended in mind-numbing 1-0 losses and no-one wants to sit through another one of those. It's worth noting, however, that we shouldn't be too intimidated as we were missing six players for the last matchup due to international duty and injuries.


Source: Andrew Wiseman (@wisemansports)

We know the opposition will be happy to sit back and let us have the ball (as are most other teams) so it's a question of how we can break them down. Well, it's always solid advice to score first against your opponent, but it's especially salient given John Aloisi's side haven't lost a game all season after scoring first. Equally important however, is the fact that they've also gone on to lose every game in which they've conceded first.


We've had major issues holding a lead this season but even with a potent striker such as Serbian international Aleksandar Prijović, we shouldn't be coughing up a lead against the nomads who are on the lower end of the table for goals scored. That's easier said than done though, as Western are the only team to have kept us scoreless so far.


Our team loves to score in bursts, and a quick one-two punch could be all it takes to come away with the choccies come later this evening.


Championship defence

If we want to challenge for the title then this is a must-win six-pointer, especially as United still have two games in hand.


Our busy schedule has tired us but it also has us well drilled, their schedule hasn't been as hectic as ours but they are older (their average starting XI age rarely dips below 30) and they will tire further as the season progresses.


It's not surprising, then, that Diamanti will be missing the match, making his side even less of an offensive threat.


Meanwhile if anyone can break down their seemingly impenetrable defence, it's his attacking midfield counterpart Florin Berenguer who will be tasked with finding the path to goal.


There are question marks over Mathew Leckie's return from injury but PK may want him back for such an important game, and as it's one that will have a slower tempo it may not test Leckie's fitness as much. With six goals in his last seven games, as well as a slew of assists, he's well and truly in form and we could really use him on the wing for this game. His likely replacement Marco Tilio wasn't at his most scintillating on Wednesday night against Macarthur but the pint-sized youngster hasn't had many chances to acclimatise to a full 90 minutes this season and he only needs one moment to change a game. We saw him step up when needed in the Finals run last season and we know he'd be capable of it this weekend too.


Source: Andrew Wiseman (@wisemansports)

Everyone will need to lift to the next level for this game, we need our champions to put in a Premiership-winning performance.


Home is where the heart is

It's not just the team on the pitch that need to show up in force this weekend; after the disappointment of the late Melbourne Derby rescheduling, the club responded fantastically - to a mess they had no hand in - by offering free tickets in the away bay (use the code WUAWAYFANS).


In recent weeks the team has noticeably lifted when the home crowd generated noise and we'll need everything we can get in order to win this one so let's pack the away bay and let Western United know whose home it is.


Free tickets, at home, early 5pm kick-off - no excuses. All our supporters together at one end is going to make for one hell of a time.


 

It's do or die for your Melbourne City boys against Western United.


Both the team, and us as supporters, will need to be at our best if we truly want to break away from the pack and stake our claim at the top of the league once more.

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