Melbourne City will be eager to return to the winner’s circle when it comes up against a familiar foe in Sydney FC this Saturday evening.
City went down 3-2 in a thrilling Melbourne Derby last weekend, recording just its second loss of the season.
Coincidentally, its only other loss came against Sydney back in December, with City now having the perfect opportunity to exact revenge on home soil against the 6th-placed Sky Blues.
Here’s a few things to look out for come kick-off!
Leckie to continue strong form
Mathew Leckie is no stranger to stepping up in the big moments, and lately, he has been the main man for City.
Leckie has been in some electric form, directly involved in six goals in his last four games (4 goals, 2 assists).
He showed that prowess with a brace last weekend against Victory, two well executed goals that kept City alive in the contest.
His second goal highlights the confidence with which he is playing his football right now, bursting onto a ball on the edge of the box, showing off a delightful first touch to beat his defender, then firing a powerful shot past the goalkeeper at the near post.
Oh, and as for his record against Sydney? He’s registered three goals in three games for City.
Leckie is in some serious form right now and that’s an almighty dangerous prospect for any opposition.
Berengeur to build off last start
Having notched a handful of appearances from the bench, star Frenchman Florin Berenguer finally recorded his first start of the season, playing 77 minutes of last weekend’s Derby.
Berenguer showed glimpses of his best, almost providing an assist to Jamie Maclaren towards the end of the first half with a perfectly weighted ball for City’s main man up front.
He will no doubt look to build on last weeks performance with another big shift in the middle on Saturday as City aim to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time this season.
Berenguer has already shown his prowess in the midfield in previous seasons and a blockbuster clash against Sydney could be the perfect launching pad for a big finish to the 2022/23 season for the 33-year old Frenchman.
City to fix its defensive woes
Boasting such a star studded line-up, it should come as no surprise that goals are flowing for Melbourne City this season.
City comfortably sit at the top of the goals scored tally (39) for the 2022/23 season and with still several games left in the season, that number will only grow.
City has scored a whopping 15 goals in its past four matches (W2, D1, L1) but will be eager to shore up the defence this weekend against Sydney.
Having conceded nine goals in that four game stretch, the City backline has been put under pressure and will no doubt be looking to make a statement by minimising Sydney’s offensive opportunities.
While still clearly one of the best defensive units in the competition, a clean sheet against a team that got the wood over them last time out would be the perfect way to kickstart a strong run into finals.
Shake up to the City bench
While the starting XI will likely remain fairly unchanged despite last weekend’s loss, the makeup of the City bench could look a little different come game day.
Club captain Scott Jamieson is set to miss Saturday’s clash through a minor hamstring injury, while young guns Raphael Borges Rodrigues and James Nieuwenhuizen are now unavailable due to Australia U20 duties.
Curtis Good has also been included in the squad and will be pushing for selection but does still have some final tests to pass in training on Friday before getting cleared for action.
The reshuffle opens the door for some of City’s young guns, with the trio of Arion Sulemani, Max Caputo and Emin Durakovic all being promoted to the senior squad.
HOW HAVE OUR OPPONENTS BEEN TRAVELLING
Sydney FC is coming into Saturday following a 1-1 draw with the Brisbane Roar after it managed to scrape together a point thanks to a last-gasp goal from Alex Parsons deep into stoppage time.
So far this season Sydney has shown it’s a team that can provide either rocks or diamonds, often going on unpredictable runs of form throughout the season.
After that aforementioned win against City, it lost four of its next six games before then going on a run of three straight wins heading into the Brisbane clash.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME
Last time the two sides met was back in December where City suffered its first defeat of the season, going down 2-1 on the road at Allianz Stadium.
It was the first game since Rado Vidosic took the reins and also the first since the World Cup break, with City’s Socceroos trio only returning a few days prior.
That didn’t stop Jamie Maclaren delivering from the penalty spot midway through the first half only for City’s lead to be short-lived with Joe Lolley hitting back for the hosts just a minute later.
The second 45 minutes proved to be a tight tussle and Adam Le Fondre scored what ultimately proved to be the winner in the 61st.
A-League Men: Round 18
Melbourne City v Sydney FC
Saturday 18 February, 5:00pm KO