Talking points preview: Wanderers vs City
Updated: Mar 4, 2022
Melbourne City will look to give itself every chance of claiming a come-from-behind Premiership when the team plays Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday afternoon.
The team comes into the clash on the back of a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Newcastle Jets, but will of course have to get the three points this weekend without Holly McNamara, who had surgery for an ACL injury on Tuesday.
With so much riding on the huge away clash, here are the biggest storylines coming into it:
Win or bust - but is it really?
The equation is set: A Melbourne City win and Sydney FC loss in the final round and our City girls will be awarded a third A-League Women's Premiership.
The achievement would be phenomenal considering the expectations placed on the squad after a disastrous 2020/21 season, and this is exactly where our hesitation around labelling this clash 'win or bust' comes in.
Though only securing a draw would be a disappointing way to end the regular season, it would be enough to guarantee us a second-placed finish and a double chance in Finals. In a season where one of the top two spots was automatically sewn up by a dominant Sydney FC and the other was contested by the best Adelaide United outfit in ALW history, the reigning Champions Melbourne Victory and a resurgent Perth Glory to a lesser degree, fans and players alike should be immensely proud of the season we've had, even if our chance at another Premiership passes us by.
That said though...
We should be quite comfortably accounting for the Wanderers.
They've got the worst form in the competition, score the least goals per game, concede the second-most per game and most recently suffered a 3-2 loss to 10th-placed Wellington Phoenix.
Western Sydney are in serious danger of being this year's wooden spoon recipients; assuming a City win against the Wanderers, Wellington would need just a single point against Perth Glory in their match tonight, or could even finish above the Wanderers on goal difference depending on how many we can score on Sunday.
Goalscoring records could continue to tumble
History is an extremely important aspect of a club's identity, and there's a strong chance that we'll see more history created on Sunday afternoon against the Wanderers.
Hannah Wilkinson has arguably exceeded expectations placed on her even as a Football Ferns regular, especially given she's only ever had one double-figure goal tally season (12 in 15 apps. in Portugal), which she could draw level with if she finds the back of the net again.
Wilkinson is guaranteed to finish the regular season with the best goals-to-games ratio in club history and the best minutes per goal figure in league history, and has already moved into outright third in our all-time goalscorers list.
The big record that could tumble against the Wanderers is Larissa Crummer's single-season record of 11 goals from 2015/16, which Wilkinson needs just one more strike to surpass.
Whilst it would be a big ask for her to draw level with or sneak past Fiona Worts' 13 goals to claim the Golden Boot, it would certainly be a deserved reward for the veteran Kiwi striker in her first professional season across the ditch.