We’re just hours away from a 2020/21 season that’ll be 3.8% 2020, 96.2% 2021 and it goes without saying that we’ve never had a campaign anything like what we’re about to experience as fans.
In what is a welcomed move by many, Australia’s premier men’s and women’s campaigns will kick off together, with Melbourne City’s senior sides set to get things underway in a double-header against Brisbane Roar on Tuesday evening.
Nathaniel Atkinson will be the only player missing for City’s A-League side, staying in Melbourne to continue his recovery from a hamstring injury, whilst Sofia Sakalis (ACL – will return later in season), Chelsea Blissett (ACL – out for season) and Alex Chidiac (quarantine) will miss for the W-League side.
With a new era on the horizon for both our senior sides, here are the key storylines we’ll be looking at ahead of our first fixtures of the 2020/21 season:
Something about Brisbane Away…
City’s win percentage against Brisbane (46.9%) is the second-highest against the A-League’s established clubs (sorry Western United [100%]), but we’ve not had a very good time of things when playing them away from home recently, with the Roar winning eight of their last 12 home games against us.
City fans will no doubt remember that infuriating 4-3 loss in November last year, the first of a small handful of disappointing results that prevented us from breaking away from the pack at several stages last season.
One of the keys to securing a rare three points in this away fixture will be our defending of set pieces. City conceded the most set-piece goals in 2019-20 whilst Brisbane scored the second-most. Let’s hope that Patrick Kisnorbo, in his first competitive game as senior men’s coach, will know how to defend a set-piece.
Speaking of which…
What IS the PK Way?
It’s a bit general but it’s a talking point nonetheless; what will PK’s Melbourne City look like?
Kisnorbo has been the heir apparent for years now and the club has finally arrived at the reality that it’s been building towards, begging the question: what now?
It takes little imagination to anticipate that Kisnorbo’s City will play in the same, uncompromising ‘City football’ style that Erick Mombaerts was brought in to implement following the infamous Warren Joyce era, but what variations will we see on the theme? Mombaerts, for instance, introduced fans to inverted fullbacks early in 2019/20, a strategy that was employed periodically rather than being an invariable characteristic of the side.
In essence, whilst we’ve had a few glimpses at what City will look like under its new gaffer, the early stages of the 2020/21 season offer fans an insight into the style and philosophies of Patrick Kisnorbo, the manager.
W-League: Who’s going to score the goals?
We’d avoided saying it til now, but up until this morning’s host of W-League signings, City’s chances of challenging for the title were looking slim. There seemed little depth beyond the back four (back three + goalkeeper) and the number of players who looked like they’d be playing out of position this season was concerning, to say the least.
This morning’s massive haul of new signings brings much-needed balance to the squad, with an out-and-out striker finally on the books in the form of Harriet Withers (who’s done alright for herself in NPLW Queensland with 12 goals in 14 games for Palm Beach SC) and a prolific attacking midfielder/forward with French top-flight experience in Margot Robinne.
Fans should genuinely be excited by the youth coming through as well, particularly Hollie Palmer who, even at 19, has considerable W-League experience and may well have another breakout season with City to build on last season’s at the Roar, as well as Tori Tumeth, who is a highly-rated defensive prospect who we hope sees plenty of time on the pitch this year.
With such a stacked defence that will likely including Emma Checker, Jenna McCormick and experienced US defender Samantha Johnson, the problem shouldn’t be conceding goals but scoring them, begging the question: if we’re going to challenge for the title, who can we rely on to score goals?
Against the Roar, we’re about to find out…
Melbourne City’s senior sides open their respective seasons with a double-header against Brisbane Roar on Tuesday, December 29.