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Talking points preview: City vs Western United

Our City boys take on the reigning Champions of Australia in warm conditions yet again tomorrow night, when we will be looking to solidify our position at the top of the table.


Despite our Western cousins being in an unfortunate position in the bottom half of the table, the boys should not underestimate their ability as recent form shows they are turning things around with wins against Melbourne Victory and high-flyers Western Sydney Wanderers.


This edition of #NotADerby will most likely be lacking in attendance, with the City Terrace still being excluded from the stadium. However, we will be hoping for a positive performance to smother United's recent spark and extend our lead at the top of the table.


Coming into this Saturday, here are three things to look out for:

Jamie Maclaren celebrates his goal against Western United earlier in the season - Source: Andrew Wiseman (@wisemansports)

Opportunity beckons

This will be our 10th game of the season, and we already have a fantastic opportunity to put serious distance between ourselves and the chasing pack in this season's Premiership race. A win this weekend will see us take home 25 points from an available 30. Not only this, but we will also extend our lead to seven points.


Our recent form tells us that we should be expecting a win here; nothing less will satisfy. Bouncing back from that Sydney FC loss at the resumption of the league, our boys have displayed class and professionalism in a couple of wins against tough outfits.


We're due some more goals though. If anything, I felt like we have been held back in our wins against the Mariners and Phoenix. If the boys are in the mood tomorrow night, it could spell disaster for Western United.


Le retour de Florin

As if our squad wasn't strong enough as it is, we will be bolstered by the long-awaited return of the magnificent Florin Berenguer. The Frenchman was absolutely instrumental in the last two seasons, seeing us to back-to-back Premierships.

Florin's last game came against Wellington in the Cup - Source: Melbourne City FC

The return will certainly cause some serious selection headaches for Rado Vidosic, who will have to weigh up the possibility of dropping a midfielder. What would you do? Valon Berisha has become a proven workhorse, despite often misplacing the final ball which Florin may polish up. Richard van der Venne has come into his own lately, especially impressive when able to play into space. Otherwise, don't even think about dropping Aidan O'Neill.


The equation just isn't that simple. Besides, who wants to change a winning formula?


Whether Florin comes straight into the first team or comes on off the bench, I am sure we will be pleased to witness his classy play once again.


Evolution of our starting eleven

This is an interesting one. If you take a look at the squad picked at the start of the season in the same fixture, you will notice a few differences. This season we've effectively seen our defensive structure return to normal with the return of injuries, while Jordan Bos has seemingly locked down the left-back role over then-centre-back Scott Jamieson.

Scott Jamieson playing centre-back against Western United - Andrew Wiseman (@wisemansports)

Furthermore, Marco Tilio has established himself as a starter over the more experienced Andrew Nabbout, who has been successfully deployed as a super-sub late in matches, demonstrated by his class in setting up Maclaren against Wellington to seal the three points.


The midfield is where the interest piques. That Round 1 match saw a midfield trio of Valon Berisha, Aiden O'Neill, and Taras Gomulka. It's almost a full-strength midfield for me, but one question must be asked: where does Gomulka fit into this squad now? If anything, the success of the midfield trios that we've fielded this season even before our returning injuries just proves that we have some serious depth to work with.


With names like van der Venne, Berisha, O'Neill and Berenguer, Taras Gomulka will have to prove his worth to get a sniff on matchday. With Tilio and Bos (and even Callum Talbot for that matter) starting over their senior counterseven-pointparts this season though, it feels like anything is possible.

 

Another win and we extend out to a seven point lead. Already.


Come on you City boys.


Score prediction: City 2 - 0 Western United


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