What to watch for: City v Perth

Melbourne City FC will kick off a busy March period in the A-League Men with a rescheduled home game against Perth Glory on Wednesday night.

The midweek home return represents a great opportunity for the team to make further progress in its bid for a successful title defence in Season 2021/22.

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Here’s what you should be keeping an eye out for on Wednesday:

A third home clean sheet?

The City boys have had little success with securing clean sheets this season, but it should provide some confidence that one of the few that we have kept has been against Perth at home already this season.

Of course, whilst that one was settled by an 88th-minute Nathaniel Atkinson winner, we won’t want to be leaving it as late this time around.

The numbers present our upcoming opponents as a prime candidate to secure a home clean sheet against: Perth averages the fewest shots, shots on target, and, ultimately, goals per game of any team in the league.

Being stingy with conceding opportunities hasn’t been an issue for City this season though, and Perth’s league-best shooting accuracy exemplifies the fact that whether City keeps its third clean sheet of 2021/22 depends just as much on Tom Glover in goal as it does on the back four.

City’s finishing against the league’s best – or luckiest – goalkeeper(s)

Perth Glory has fielded a trio of goalkeepers already this season, but regardless of whether it’s Liam Reddy, Brad Jones or Cameron Cook between the sticks, one things remains the same: opposition forwards find them incredibly difficult to beat.

Whilst Reddy has started the team’s last three fixtures (Cook has featured the most: 6 apps.), all three shot-stoppers have elite save percentages ranging between 78-88%, and Perth has benefitted greatly: the team has conceded an unfathomable EIGHT goals fewer than they would have been expected to, according to FootyStats.

Overperformance on ‘Expected Goals Against’ such as this is usually explained by a goalkeeper repeatedly saving shots that he’s not expected to or opposition strikers repeatedly missing chances that they’d be expected to score.

It’ll be interesting then, to find out which is the case when the team that concedes the fewest goals per shot (thanks to Perth’s statistically extraordinary goalkeepers) comes up against City, the league’s most clinical outfit in terms of goals per shot.

City to get it done early – or else

We’ve been no strangers to seeing leads disappointingly stripped away in the final half hour this season, so fans and players alike will be desperate to see the game already out of Perth’s reach if we can put on a dominant first-half showing on Wednesday.

Beyond the fact that it’d make for a much less stressful night overall, we’ll also want to have the result wrapped up early to avoid the intersection of two concerning statistical trends later in the game; City has conceded 57% (11) of its total goals against from the 60th minute onwards, whilst Perth has worryingly netted 66% (6) of its own over the same period.

Ultimately, this point could be about managing the game better in the final half hour or it can be as it is: optimistic that our boys have what it takes to make a fast start and then see out their half-time lead to secure the vital three points.