ALW Preview: Western v City

Melbourne City is looking to bounce back from a 3-0 loss to Sydney FC as it gears up for a top-of-the-table clash against Western United on Saturday.

City will return to Melbourne to face a Western United side that currently sits just two points ahead at the top of the table following a loss mid-week.

Here’s a few of the key things to watch for this Saturday:

Top of table up for grabs

City is in a fierce battle for spots in and around the top of the table, battling it out with Sydney FC and Western United for first.

City currently trails Western by two points and after their recent 2-0 loss to Newcastle, it makes Saturday one of the most important matches on City’s calendar.

A win would put it ahead of United as it heads into the back end of the season, while a loss would mean the side would have to be near perfect in its run home to keep its Premiers Plates hopes alive.

The other big threat is of course Sydney FC who continue to be right in the Premiership mix, sitting a point behind City but boasting two extra games in hand.

City’s time to strike

Coming off a loss last time out, City will no doubt be eager to make up for lost time against another of the competition’s big hitters.

This Saturday looms as the perfect chance to take advantage of a side slightly out of form and confidence, with a huge three points up for grabs.

Saturday’s game will be Western’s third game inside a week and the chaotic schedule has not played out favourably for the team in green and black.

It is coming off losses to two sides placed in the bottom half of the table, a 3-1 loss to Perth Glory (8th) and a 2-0 loss to Newcastle Jets (10th).

With City coming off a loss itself, it will no doubt be eager to get one back on a side that got the bragging rights over it earlier in the season.

City’s success at AAMI

While City is technically the ‘away’ side in Saturday’s fixture, it has enjoyed an impressive record at AAMI Park.

City have won seven of its last nine games at AAMI, registering two 1-0 wins in their previous fixtures at the venue.

One of those losses came against Western United at AAMI Park just a few months ago, but with several of City’s key players returning to the fold this time around, it will be eager to get back a win of its own.

Despite the away side tag, expect to still see plenty of City support coming out to watch the girls in action.

Reshuffle at the back

Ahead of the game against Sydney FC, Head Coach Dario Vidosic was forced into a change, with Naomi Chinnama was ruled out after the young defender suffered a hamstring injury on the training pitch during the week.

Scans have unfortunately confirmed that the 18-year old will be out for eight weeks of action.

Having started all but one game prior to her injury, Chinnama has been a key reason behind City’s success at the back and will be sorely missed by the team.

Slotting into the defence in her place was Chelsea Blissett and this Saturday’s game again looms as a great opportunity to cement her spot in the starting XI.

With the likes of skipper Emma Checker, Kaitlyn Torpey and Katie Bowen alongside her, City fans will be hoping to see the team get back to the resolute defensive performances they’ve become used to this season.

What happened last time?

The last time these two sides met was back in December, with Western prevailing 3-1.

The scoreline didn’t reflect the match though, with Vidosic saying on multiple occasions since that he believed it was the sides best performance of the season.

Both teams took the game on and created numerous chances in front of goal, stamping their authority as two of the premiere teams in the competition.

City was unlucky not to have scored more itself that day, with Bryleeh Henry and Maria Jose Rojas both going inches away from scoring on several occasions.

It was a bit of brilliance from Western’s Chloe Logarzo that separated the two sides, with the midfielders strike from outside the box flying into Sally James top left corner.

That strike midway through the second half would give Western a lead they would hold onto right up until deep into stoppage time, where they ultimately earnt a penalty and secured the three points.

How have our opposition been travelling recently?

After a remarkable start that saw it register seven wins to start its 2022/23 campaign, Western’s form has cooled off in recent times.

It has tasted defeat in three of its last five games to suddenly open the door for the likes of City and Sydney FC at the top of the table.

Fresh off a 2-0 loss to the second-last Newcastle Jets, Saturday is shaping up as a huge game with both teams well aware of the games in hand Sydney hold behind them.