Talking points preview: Wellington vs City
Our City boys will again look to extend their lead at the top of the table on Monday when the team travels to face the hot-and-cold Wellington Phoenix.
Rado Vidosic's side overcame a loss to Sydney and the drama of an abandoned Melbourne Derby to beat Central Coast Mariners at home last round, securing an uneasy but admirable 1-0 win in scorching evening temperatures.
Our upcoming opposition most recently played out what would have been a frustrating 1-1 draw away from home against league-bottom Perth Glory, a result which they will be keen to redeem themselves for back on home turf.
Here are the major talking points heading into our trip across the ditch:
Last time we met...
Probably the first thing to come to fans' minds ahead of Monday's clash is the result when the teams last faced each other back in Round 4.
The only blight on Patrick Kisnorbo's dominant start to what would turn out to be his final ALM campaign with City, our boys in blue dropped points the last time they faced the Phoenix despite having lead by two goals with just over 10 minutes to play.
The 2-2 scoreline has gone on to typify the type of encounters that the Phoenix have been involved in this season, constituting one of the highest-scoring (17 goals) and highest-conceding (15) teams in the league.
Fortunately, City has conceded just one second-half goal in its four fixtures since that disappointing result, and fans can only hope for a more disciplined performance this time around.
Home & Away
It should be said, however, that for all that fans will relate back to the Round 4 clash with the Phoenix at AAMI Park, Ufuk Talay's side are a totally different proposition when playing at home.
His side has the second-best home record in the league (and its worst away record), accruing 82% of its current points tally from home fixtures.
This hasn't been a product of circumstance, either; five of those home games have come against current top five teams, with Wellington's only home loss arriving against Western United.
The Phoenix, therefore, should not be underestimated on their home deck; for City to claim three points would be a significant achievement for Rado Vidosic's side.
J-Mac's shot at history*
Jamie Maclaren is no stranger to breaking records.
With seemingly every goal this season, he has written a new page in the history books of the Australian National League, beginning the 2022/23 campaign as its 10th-highest all-time scorer and passing a host of famous names to become its fifth - and counting.
However, with just one more goal on Monday, Maclaren would outright claim one of the most elusive pages in Australian football's history book: the most consecutive goalscoring games.
At present, the all-time record is jointly shared by Maclaren and Andy Keogh at eight games, a streak which hadn't been threatened for six years until City's #9 came along, and it would be an achievement that would take even longer to top if the streak stands at nine games after our trip across the ditch.
*The outcome of City's abandoned match against Victory, and its impact on Maclaren's streak, is still unclear, but well-known footballing figures like Simon Hill and Andrew Howe have spoken as if history is still on the cards.