Melbourne City FC will travel to Brisbane to take on the Roar with another big three points up for grabs in the A-League Men.
The teams previously met in Round 1 of this season, with City securing a 2-1 win at home despite a late fightback from the visitors.
There’s a totally different context about the teams’ meeting this time around, so here’s what to watch for when their rematch kicks off tomorrow night:
Who replaces our missing CityRoos?
Quite obviously the biggest storyline heading into Wednesday’s clash is the impending absence of four City superstars as Mathew Leckie, Jamie Maclaren, Connor Metcalfe and Marco Tilio jet off for the Socceroos’ vital upcoming World Cup Qualifiers.
This temporary mass exodus will leave holes needing to be filled in central midfield, left wing and striker, so it’ll be up to Patrick Kisnorbo to decide who best fits the bill.
When these same absences occurred for our second clash against Western United (which ended in a 1-0 loss), Kisnorbo called upon Taras Gomulka, Jordan Bos and Stefan Colakovski to fill those respective positions, whilst Scott Galloway at right wing was also needed to compensate for Andrew Nabbout’s absence from the squad on the night.
With Nabbout likely to be available this time around, City already has a stronger starting XI than we were forced to field in that ill-fated Western United clash, whilst Tsubasa Endoh’s integration with the squad allows Kisnorbo flexibility in his midfield and wide attacking selections.
With so many selection decisions to make, in addition to who he’ll select as his starting keeper following the recent battle for the #1 spot between Tom Glover and Matthew Sutton, we certainly don’t envy Kisnorbo’s predicament at the moment.
It mightn’t be what City fans who’ve shown up for every game at AAMI Park this season want to hear, but our upcoming pair of interstate games may just be the best thing for our title tilt at the moment; the team has been significantly better on the road than at AAMI in 2021/22.
Playing at AAMI, which includes home and ‘away’ fixtures, City has 20 points from 13 games, but our chances of picking up three points seem to skyrocket once we’ve cross an interstate border – we’ve played in six such games, picking up four wins and two draws for 14 points overall. On a points-per-game basis, that’s 1.54 at AAMI vs. 2.33 interstate.
Not since our 2-2 draw against Adelaide (the only team we’ve failed to beat interstate) in mid-January have we dropped points in such fixtures, and we’ll be looking to extend that two-month 100% run when we travel to face Brisbane Roar and Macarthur FC this week.
It mightn’t sit comfortably with some of the City faithful, but Wednesday night might be the first time that we’re hoping for a positive result for Melbourne Victory, with our crosstown rivals taking on Western United in a clash that could strengthen our grip on first place.
Victory has accounted for two of United’s four losses this season, recording 1-0 and 3-1 wins over the team from Victoria’s west in 2021/22, and a similar result on Wednesday night (in addition to a City win, of course!) could see our lead at the top of the table extend to four points – a respectable buffer even with United’s two games in hand.