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Talking points preview: Western United vs City

Our City girls will throw everything they've got at Western United later this afternoon as they look to keep their slim Premiership chances alive with a win over the current league leaders.

Dario Vidosic's side is coming off a deflating 3-0 away loss against Sydney FC in which our recent progress seemed to have been thrown out the window as the Sky Blue attackers ran riot.

Our upcoming opposition, despite currently sitting atop the A-League Women's table, would be sweating on the result of today's clash as they look to snap their unexpected two-game losing streak, most recently extended at the hands of Newcastle Jets in a 2-0 rout on Wednesday night.

With so much to play for for either side, here are the biggest talking points surrounding this afternoon's contest:

Photo: Getty Images

Last chance saloon

Last Sunday's embarrassing defeat at the hands of Sydney FC has left City just about needing to have a perfect run from now until the end of the season to remain in the Premiership race. That starts with beating Western United.

Once a seemingly unbeatable force, Mark Torcaso's side has now suffered three defeats since our first meeting with the green and black in December of last year. Losing their most recent two fixtures against fairly average opposition in Perth Glory and Newcastle Jets, United has now entirely lost its grip on first place, with Sydney FC now the favourites to power ahead with only a three-point deficit to recover and two games in-hand to do so.

Even if we were to exact revenge against the Sky Blues in our rematch a few weeks away, Ante Juric's side would still have one more lifeline before they'd seriously be troubled by the chasing pack. Again, City would need to win just about every remaining match this season and then hope for a Sydney FC slip-up before we're able to peak our noses back in front in the title race.

The reality is, this afternoon it's last chance saloon. Win and our Premiership hopes stay alive; anything else and it's time to resign our silverware hopes to the Finals series.

The midweek effect

With Western United already in a poor patch of form, City's cause may be aided even further by the debilitating effect that we've seen midweek football have on even the strongest of teams this season.

Torcaso's side had its unbeaten start to life in the A-League Women snapped by a 2-1 loss to Western Sydney at the end of a schedule of three games in seven days. We also saw Sydney FC suffer only its second loss of the season to Western United when the teams clashed just four days after the Sky Blues beat a spirited Newcastle Jets outfit.

By contrast, City stands to benefit from a week-long break in which the team was able to return to City Football Academy from New South Wales and prepare for its next fixture in familiar surroundings rather than needing to immediately jet off to another state.

On the back of two losses in four days already, United mightn't be more ready for the taking than they are this afternoon.


While the club's announcement of an eight-week recovery timeframe for defender Naomi Chinnama is a significant blow to the City squad, the potential return of Karly Roestbakken to the starting lineup would help to offset that loss.

Chinnama had been performing well in a back three alongside Emma Checker and Katie Bowen, forming part of a stingy backline that had conceded one goal in the four fixtures prior to her absence against Sydney FC. That three-central-defender formation had also proven beneficial in an attacking sense, allowing wide defenders Julia Grosso and Kaitlyn Torpey to play closer to goal and assist Rhianna Pollicina in creating chances for Hannah Wilkinson and Bryleeh Henry up front. These benefits were lost when Dario Vidosic was forced to switch to a back four against the Sky Blues last weekend, with the former City midfielder lacking a third fit centre-back to play alongside Checker and Bowen.

Perhaps wishing for an immediate return to the starting lineup for Roestbakken - in what would be her first start at centre-back this year - is a tad optimistic, however. The versatile fringe Matilda has had her game time limited this campaign and has made just two starts from four total appearances.

With so much riding on today's clash, a return to a back three - with Roestbakken at the heart of it - could be the edge we need.

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