Melbourne City are back at AAMI Park for the second week in a row, currently gearing up to face Macarthur this Saturday.
While perhaps unfair to call it a ‘form slump’, City comes into this clash desperate for a win after playing out three consecutive draws.
This clash will be one of just two home fixtures for the club this month, so don’t miss out on the chance to get down to AAMI Park and cheer on your City boys! Click here to get tickets.
Here’s a few of the key talking points heading into Sunday afternoon:
Converting chances to goals
There’s been a pretty common theme throughout City’s recent draws – particularly against Western Sydney and Adelaide.
Plenty of chances have been created but for whatever reason, they just haven’t been hitting the back of the net.
The Wanderers clash saw City record 31 shots to 2 while last week against Adelaide (28-12) wasn’t too dissimilar.
Speaking post-game after the draw to Adelaide, Rado Vidosic said he’d be ‘more concerned’ if his team weren’t creating any scoring chances rather than creating plenty and not finishing.
There’s no doubt Vidosic, as well as the City family as a whole, will be hoping to see a few more of those great chances end up in the back of the net come Saturday.
A welcome return to the starting XI for a certain Frenchman?
City’s 2021/22 Player of the Year, Florin Berenguer, is nearing full fitness after making his return to action earlier this month following a long lay-off due to a hamstring injury.
He’s now made four consecutive cameos off the bench, seeing over half an hour of action – his most game time yet – last time out against Adelaide.
City looked a more cohesive unit going forward following the Frenchman’s introduction, with Berenguer creating plenty of chances for the front three ahead of him as City chased an equaliser.
At most other teams around the league it would simply be a case of bringing a player of Berenguer’s quality straight back into the XI as soon as he’s at 100% fitness, but the depth at City will cause a good kind of a headache for Vidosic.
City’s usual midfield three of Aiden O’Neill, Valon Berisha and Richard van der Venne have all been impressive so far this season and any of the trio would find themselves unlucky to be benched.
Often playing as a lone defensive midfielder, O’Neill would appear the least likely to succumb to the midfield squeeze as competition for spots heat up.
Whether it comes this week, next week or sometime into the future, it’ll be a tough decision for Vidosic as to what his best midfield mix will be.
Tightening up at the back
After having been so strong throughout this campaign, City’s defence shipped three goals to Adelaide last week, the most its conceded in any clash this season.
It was just the third time in its 13 games this season that City has conceded multiple goals, so there will no doubt be a big focus during the week on ensuring that doesn’t happen again.
While on the surface conceding three goals doesn’t look great, they all came from very avoidable situations. Two were simply defensive turnovers and the other was a set piece, all very easily rectified.
Given this and the fact that City has still comfortably conceded the least goals of any team in the competition, you wouldn’t imagine Vidosic and his coaching staff have spent the past week pulling out their hair.
The focus likely instead would’ve been on the importance of concentrating for the full 90 minutes and with plenty of competition for spots, expect City to be fired up and eyeing yet another clean sheet.
Extending the gap
While City may’ve left a few points out there on the pitch in recent weeks, it hasn’t been made to pay with the second placed Mariners (five points behind) winless in their last couple of fixtures.
Looking a little further down the table, the Wanderers in third are also on a run of three consecutive draws, while Wellington – fourth on only goal difference – have been hitting some form, undefeated in four matches with three wins in that period.
It must also be mentioned that City does have a game in hand on the chasing pack, but you wouldn’t imagine that’ll mean Vidosic’s Men will be resting on their laurels.
Instead, expect City to do everything it can to increase its buffer atop the table as it looks to become the first A-Leagues team to win three consecutive Premierships.
How have our opposition been travelling recently?
Currently sitting sixth on the table, the biggest news out of Macarthur in recent times has been the departure of Head Coach Dwight Yorke.
Now led by Mile Sterjovski, the Bulls will on Saturday be looking for their first win since January 8 when they knocked off the Jets at home.
Since then, Macarthur recorded back-to-back losses before it secured a point last weekend in its first match under Sterjovski.
A 49-minute sending off to Kearyn Baccus saw the Bulls down to 10 men, but it fought hard to secure a point, which really could’ve been all three if not for a late Western United equaliser to make it 2-2.
What happened last time?
City is yet to taste defeat against the leagues newest club, having won in four of the five meetings between teams.
The last of which was late last season, Jamie Maclaren getting on the end of a Mathew Leckie cross in the 64th minute to secure all three points.
A-League Men: Round 15
Melbourne City v Macarthur Bulls
Saturday 4 February, 5:00pm KO