Talking points preview: Melbourne Derby
If ever an article wrote itself – here it is. This author has simply plucked the script from the universe. If you are not already enthused and fired up, the time is now.
Here are three things we can expect to see tomorrow evening as we take on Victory on our home turf - away:
If for some reason you have been living under a rock, or a more casual observer of the game taking stock prior to your annual Derby visit, Melbourne City are utterly flying.
A look at the ladder paints one picture, though those of us more attentive in our following have noted that this season has not been as fluent and dominant as last season.
However, in recent fixtures, the Melbourne City of season past has seemingly returned, shaking off the defensive woes and absolutely chomping at the bit in attack. Whilst the seeds of success have long been sown, the plant has surely sprung and here we are presented with the opportunity to assert our dominance in a field closely followed by our two geographical rivals.
However you look at it (four wins on the trot; undefeated in 11), not only have we built winning momentum but we most certainly have established a winning culture.
What a perfect opportunity to not only stamp our authority on the league but to do it against our biggest rival! The stage is set. Whether you are regular or casual, get down to AAMI Park and get behind the lads. This is our City.
Anyone who knows the world of football will have seen the writing on the wall for the likes of Nathaniel Atkinson and Connor Metcalfe and their time at City. Melbourne City have provided these players the opportunities to flourish and, in turn, provided the club and fan base the opportunity to witness the ascendency of youth destined for European football.
Whilst the loss is and will most certainly be felt, a proud and pertinent point must be raised – these lads will have always come from our football club and wherever their journey takes them in their professional lives it will have always have begun at our club. Whilst their absences will almost certainly leave a hole, it provides an amazing opportunity for others to fill in their wake.
So can we talk about Jordan Bos for a moment? We have all seen the lad’s potential, but those who witnessed his performance in Wednesday evening’s utterly comprehensive domination of Sydney FC will have witnessed precisely what this lad has to offer at his best. With immense speed, courage and determination, and always first to the ball, Bos almost certainly steps up as our next biggest youngster.
At only 19, we see the potential, once again, to mutually benefit from the ascendency of our gifted youngsters and I am sure he will enjoy the opportunity to dominate once again against our biggest rivals. Let’s enjoy him whilst he lasts.
Still anyone’s game… and season
Fans of City old may be wondering why all this positivity? So let’s take it down a notch:
This is a derby. Anything can and does happen. We know this. History tells us this. So let’s consider the following...
In an otherwise strong season, Melbourne City has struggled against our geographical neighbours. Western United and Melbourne Victory (our geographical and table competitors in 2nd and 3rd respectively) still have everything to play for – especially squeezing points from us, which could end up as season-defining when the fixtures even out come May.
In March, we only salvaged a mere two points from these games, managing two losses to Western United earlier in the season and an additional draw at the annual Christmas Derby.
In fact, the last time we beat Melbourne Victory was back at the 7-0 drubbing in May of 2021 – a very different Victory mind you.
This season, it seems that teams who have set up conservatively, focusing on suppressing our style, have tended to do well, whilst teams who have tried to match up to our gameplay have often found themselves often overwhelmed by the multitude of talent on display.
Having said this, we have a more attuned and focused attacking front three with a midfield consisting of one of this season’s best A-League players in Florin Berenguer, a talented young Socceroo in Metcalfe and a criminally underrated but always dominant Aiden O’Neill. It is hard to see Victory being able to withstand the dominance of our recent form and break through our recent defensive solidity.
Not only this, but we are coming into the game in season-best form looking frightfully like the team that secured both Premiers Plate and the Championship trophy last season. We also have every incentive to win, leaving soon for the coming Asian Champions League competition, leaving the A League to fight it out in the domestic competition that remains. We have every reason to have faith in this team’s ability if recent form is any indication.
If you find yourself available for Saturday night football and you want to stick it to our noisy neighbours, get down and be part of what looks to be an exciting and memorable night of football ahead.
Prediction: Melbourne Victory 1 – Melbourne City 4