Melbourne City FC will be looking to secure an all-important three points on Saturday evening when it hosts Adelaide United at AAMI Park.
Here’s what to watch for on Saturday:
Bouncing back from a Derby defeat
Last round saw a frustrating result for Rado Vidosic’s squad, going down 2-1 to last season’s champions, Melbourne Victory.
City created plenty of chances in the contest, particularly in the first half, and did go into the break with a lead after Tyla-Jay Vlajnic’s cross was turned in for an own goal by Victory defender Amy Jackson.
Despite this, Victory were able to find the back of the net twice in the second half to come away with the win.
While City left with nothing to show for it, there was plenty to like about the performance and you’d expect a fired-up City outfit will be looking to return to the winner’s list when it takes on Adelaide.
Adelaide’s unknown quantity in midfield – now with an additional dimension
Just a few days ago, Adelaide’s midfield trio likely would have been comprised of Emily Condon, Nanako Sasaki and one of either Reona Omiya or Emma Stanbury. Whilst Condon has starred for the Reds for years, Japanese imports Sasaki and Omiya are still relative unknowns, whilst Stanbury’s two appearances this season were her first in nearly two years.
With such a small sample size for City’s players and coaching team to analyse and learn from, the midfield battle may have already loomed as a tricky one, but a recent Reds signing has introduced another element for City to contend with.
Earlier this week, United managed to bring back a fan favourite in Dylan Holmes, who had a breakout 2020/21 campaign that saw her secure a move to Swedish outfit BK Häcken in March.
Whilst Holmes is more of a known quantity, Adelaide now boasts a fearsome midfield between her, Condon and whichever of Sasaki, Omiya and Stanbury are picked to fill out the trio.
Wilkinson to get the monkey off her back
Despite being one of City’s best performers across our opening two games of the 2021/22 season, Hannah Wilkinson is yet to find the back of the net for the first time in City colours, but form would suggest that she could break that duck when she faces Adelaide on Saturday.
Wilkinson has seen plenty of good shooting opportunities fall her way, with two particularly promising ones arriving in the first half of last weekend’s Melbourne Derby, but the Kiwi hasn’t been able to capitalise yet.
Between her intelligent movement, strong hold-up play and on-field leadership, Wilkinson has been more than deserving of a goal in our opening two games and fans should keep an eye out for her to hit the back of the net against Adelaide.
A contest between two teams with near-identical form and similar aspirations
With each side missing out on Finals in 2020/21, both City and Adelaide United will believe they have what it takes to crack the top four in 2021/22.
Coincidentally, both teams have begun their Liberty A-League campaigns with one win against Canberra United and one loss against Melbourne Victory. Canberra’s 1-0 loss to City in the opening round was followed by a 2-1 loss against Adelaide last weekend, but City fared the better of the two sides against reigning Champions Victory, going down by just one goal compared to the Reds’ four-goal loss in Round 1.
With two quality sides set to do battle on Saturday evening, watch for the additional intensity and desire that will stem from what could loom as an early-season ‘six-pointer’.