Talking points preview: Central Coast vs City
After an emphatic win on Easter Monday, Melbourne City heads up to Gosford to face the Central Coast Mariners with one singular focus: making history.
Here are three things to look out for ahead of the fixture.
City currently occupies a seven-point lead against Adelaide United with just three games to play, with City also holding a +15 goal difference over the Reds.
In the end this means there a few possible avenues that could result in City being crowned premiers for an unprecedented third-straight season this weekend.
Option 1: City win. A City win would see the gap extend to 10 points, a mathematically impossible deficit for Adelaide to make up in their three remaining fixtures. Expect to see scenes of jubilation upon the final whistle should we be victorious.
Option 2: Reds lose. If Adelaide fails to secure a point, the gap would remain at least seven points regardless of our result against the Mariners, however we would have to wait for their fixture to end on Sunday afternoon.
They are the two ways City can be crowned this weekend. There are other options that could very much work in our favour such as an Adelaide draw if we were unable to win, however the last thing we want to do is to leave the door ajar for ifs and buts, as it just brings unnecessary pressure back onto City.
The message across the group has always been on being in control of our own fate and making our own luck. Because of this the focus will undoubtedly be on winning and winning alone; if we do that, we make history.
Battle of the strikers
City and the Mariners possess the two most prolific goal scorers in the competition this season in Jamie Maclaren and Jason Cummings.
Maclaren currently sits on 20 goals this season and Cummings sits on 16.
Both players will be entering the match with a spring their step as Cummings currently has three goal involvements in his last two matches, and J-Mac was back to his lethal best last week scoring a brace.
Word is that Cummings has been attracting some interest regarding a big money move to India come the seasons end, so he’ll be looking to prove his worth.
J-Mac now sits just two goals behind equalling the all-time A-League Men's goals record, and three from beating it. After breaking his drought last week, there is no reason Jamie won’t be looking to equal or perhaps even break the record this weekend.
On the night that City could become the first team to secure a Premiership three-peat, could we see also see another record broken? We can only dare to dream.
Call to arms
This season has been plagued with a load of off-field politics, and unfortunately due to this it's often taken focus off of what really matters: the football.
I won’t go dig up old wounds with things such the APL’s decision to relocate the grand finals or the rifts in the terrace etc, because this week its not important.
At the end of the day we all at one point or another have fallen in love with this club, and thats what keeps us coming back. Whether you’ve been with the club from Heart, or you endured the Joyce era, there is a good chance that the time you’ve spent following this club has resulted in you taking your fair share of heartbreak and disappointment.
But not this group.
This group and this club is on the verge of greatness; three-consecutive plates has never been done, and it may never be done again. We would be silly to let any form of politics stop us from enjoying something so special.
Regardless of what side of the fence you sit on when it comes to the plethora of issues that accompany the state of Australian football today, that's not what this weekend is about.
This weekend is about getting behind the club that has given us so much joy over the last three years. We’ve been given club legends, cult heroes, the most promising youth Australia has to offer, last-minute winners, demolition derbies etc.
This weekend is about understanding everything the club has to had to go through to get where we are, and enjoying that for what it is.
If every member of the City family can do that, the feeling and overall sense of community within the club will be better for it, regardless of the result.
As dynamics around the league and group has continually changed, the goal of consistently raising the benchmark of Australian football has never wavered.
A win this weekend would not just be an update in a record book, it would be just reward for a group and a club that is so in touch with what they aim to do.
This weekend, we’re all City, it's as simple as that.
Score prediction: Mariners 1-3 City