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Talking points preview: City vs Perth

Common sense has prevailed, with the City girls' fixture against Perth Glory shifted from the middle of a scorching Melbourne afternoon to the more bearable time (and accompanying temperatures) of 8:15pm tomorrow night at AAMI Park.

The team has been simply irresistible throughout its opening five matches of the 2022/23 season, most recently putting four goals past a misfiring Canberra United outfit away from home.

Today's matchday squad announcement has brought with it a number of talking points as Dario Vidosic's side prepares for some massive ins and outs, so let's jump right into a preview of tomorrow night's clash:

Photo: Getty Images

One superstar in, another out.

It's ironic that the return of three of the biggest names in the City squad when it was shaping up pre-season almost seems secondary to the (temporary) departure of a player that joined the club just days before Round 1.

Whilst we'll touch on our defensive reinforcements soon, the biggest talking point coming into the weekend is Hannah Wilkinson's return to the matchday squad at the expense of Maria Rojas, who - as an injury replacement signing - is now obligated to depart the club with her job well done.

Though the club has masterminded an intelligent workaround, with Rojas set to rejoin us in February when Emina Ekic's loan spell ends, it will be intriguing to see how the team adapts to having a very different mould of player in the role of our #9.

A diminutive playmaker who excelled at dropping deep and linking play, Rojas' style almost perfectly contradicts the role of target-woman Wilkinson.

Whilst the Kiwi dominated the ALW last season, breaking the league's record for fewest games to score 10 goals, there will be at least a hint of anxiety on fans' part as to whether or not Wilkinson will be able to seamlessly slot back into the team - and whether her teammates can adapt accordingly.

Matildas at the ready! - or are they?

Whilst Wilkinson's inclusion comes at a minor cost, there's certainly no downside to the returns of Matildas defenders Emma Checker and Karly Roestbakken.

Photo: Andrew Wiseman (@wisemansports)

If the pair were to see game time on Tuesday, it would be just their third and first appearances of the season respectively. This begs the question: should either be trusted with a starting place ahead of their teenage counterpart Naomi Chinnama, who has rarely set a foot wrong thus far this season?

That said, the City defence has hardly been impenetrable in its opening five matches; the team has conceded five times and ranks in the bottom third for shots faced - all this despite a relatively favourable set of fixtures.

The hard truth might just be that the City backline isn't doing too badly, but a champion team should always be looking to improve, and the fact is, there's definitely room for improvement.

Flat track bullies

In the context of our season and the performances we've seen thus far, this is certainly closer to a compliment than a criticism; City has been offensively brilliant against teams outside of the top four (and hell, it was very unlucky not to score more against Western United too!).

In its fixtures against Wellington, Brisbane, Newcastle and Canberra, City found the back of the net on four, three, five, and four occasions.

This week, the team comes up against eighth-placed Perth Glory, who've underperformed against pre-season expectations and leaked the equal-third-highest number of goals while they were at it.

Really, the talking point here is that City should be aiming for a business-as-usual approach. Despite the loss of Rojas, the team should hardly be worried - we've had seven individual goalscorers, with three of those (excluding Rojas) netting three or more times.

If fans witness another breathtaking attacking display from the City girls, the team should have no troubles with collecting another vital three points.

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