After bowing out of the FFA Cup midweek, the City boys will be out for redemption when they host Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday evening in the second game of a double-header for our senior sides at AAMI Park.
Following a disrupted Christmas and New Year period due to a COVID outbreak amongst the squad, City had to wait 18 days after its Melbourne Derby draw pre-Christmas to take to the pitch again, but the impact of the virus was telling in City’s FFA Cup loss on Wednesday night.
With some of the affected players only able to re-join the group for training just days prior to the game, many were consigned to the bench due to a lack of fitness or omitted from the squad entirely.
Fielding a depleted starting XI, Patrick Kisnorbo’s side struggled to create shooting opportunities against the Phoenix and not even 120 minutes was enough to see either side net a decisive goal.
It came down to a penalty shootout, where 19-year-old Alex Paulsen was the hero for Wellington, saving three of City’s seven penalties before Nicholas Pennington stuck his winner in the top left to see his side through to the Semi-Finals.
Though the circumstances leading into the match were testing, the City boys would have been disappointed with the result and will now set their sights squarely on returning to their best form against Western Sydney later tonight.
The Wanderers have struggled early in 2021/22, winning just one match from their first five and currently occupying ninth place.
Much like City up until our midweek Cup game, the Wanderers have been severely impacted by match postponements over the New Year period, having not played a game since their 2-0 loss to Central Coast on the 18th of December, making them somewhat of an unknown quantity.
In a huge boost for City, Jamie Maclaren is available for selection again after serving his one-game suspension following his late sending-off in the Christmas Derby. The striker has scored more goals against Western Sydney than any other team he’s faced and has netted seven goals in his five meetings with the Wanderers as a City player.
Izuzu UTE A-League
Melbourne City FC vs Western Sydney Wanderers FC
Sunday 9 January, kick-off 6:15pm