Talking points preview: City vs Adelaide - ALW
Dario Vidosic will hope to improve the performances and table position of his side on Sunday afternoon when the team takes on a faltering Adelaide United at AAMI Park.
The team in City blue is undefeated in three games, most recently beating Western Sydney 1-0 at home, but has failed to reach the heights of its scintillating attacking performances earlier this season.
Our City girls will face a United side that they defeated 3-0 only a few weeks ago, and who are in the midst of a drastic slide down the table as they endure a five-game winless run. The Reds most recently lost 2-1 to Melbourne Victory.
The closing game on what should be a cracking afternoon of football at AAMI Park, here's what to look out for when City takes on Adelaide tomorrow:
Keep the pace, improve the performances
With Western United enjoying breathing room at the top and a difficult run of fixtures ahead to try and make up that ground, simply 'keeping the pace' with a win over the Reds won't be enough; fans will also want to see an improvement on recent performances.
This season can now be evenly split into the 'Rojas' and 'No Rojas' - 'Nojas', if you will - eras, and the numbers to come out of either five-game period certainly tell a story. With Maria Rojas starring for City across our first five games of the season, the team netted a whopping 17 goals and conceded five the other way. Since her departure, we've netted just six goals in five fixtures, but have tightened things up at the back to concede just three against, including keeping three clean sheets over that period.
Though we've finally got Hannah Wilkinson up and scoring again, with the Kiwi netting in consecutive recent games, our attacking output is still a far cry from the irresistible football we were producing with Rojas in the team. The premature departure of Emina Ekic hasn't helped in that regard, but neither has the startling drop-off in attacking contributions from our star playmaker Rhianna Pollicina.
To return to our scintillating best, we'll need to see a return to form from Pollicina, as well as the rediscovery of our Rojas-era attacking cohesion that would see the whole team benefit.
Adelaide are in really poor form right now
They may have started the season strong, but there is currently no A-League Women's outfit in worse form than Adrian Stenta's Adelaide United. The Reds have picked up a solitary point in their past five fixtures, scoring just two goals over that period.
When City and Adelaide last met, fans witnessed a well-contested fixture that wasn't reflected by the final 3-0 result in which Leticia McKenna and Caitlin Karic netted for City in stoppage time.
Already boasting one of the competition's best defences, Vidosic will feel that his side should be able to contain its misfiring upcoming opposition, who have scored the fewest goals per 90 minutes of any team in the league.
A home game that will actually feel like home
The result of a move that was already divisive, Melbourne City home matchdays at Casey Fields have turned out to be downright disastrous, so it'll be a welcomed return to AAMI Park for our City girls on Sunday.
Coming off a home attendance of 247 people at Casey (the seventh-lowest ALW attendance ever, according to ALeagueStats.com), it is clear that spectators aren't enjoying the matchday experience at City's new HQ, and unsurprisingly so. The most common gripe is how difficult it is to watch football on a VFL oval, but the lack of grandstand seating and shade (especially significant in the middle of summer!) are also legitimate complaints.
With ALW action returning to AAMI Park in the second fixture of a Sunday afternoon doubleheader, our clash against the Reds represents a great opportunity for those who have been unable to attend or who have been disenchanted with the Casey experience to support the team in significant numbers.
A pair of strong City performances on a balmy afternoon at the beautiful AAMI Park would be the best possible way to cap off the weekend.