What to watch for: City v Western Sydney

City will be looking to secure back-to-back A-League Women wins after a thrilling come from behind victory over Brisbane last weekend.

After three consecutive games on the road, Rado Vidosic’s squad will return home this Sunday when it hosts Western Sydney.

Here’s what you should be keeping an eye out for at AAMI Park on Sunday:

Ramifications near the top of the table

Whilst it’s too early to pull out the calculator and figure out how many points are needed to guarantee a Finals berth, we are certainly entering the pointy end of the season and positive results are looming as more important than ever – and that’s no exaggeration.

It’s important to remember that whilst 21 points (City’s tally if we were to beat Western Sydney Wanderers this weekend) has been enough to qualify for Finals in three of the past five campaigns, Season 2021/22 is unique in that, with 10 teams instead of 9, A-League Women sides will play 14 games over the 14 rounds instead of 12 with two byes, and thus, have a higher points ceiling than previous years.

The race for a top two finish will be even tighter, with Melbourne Victory equal on a points-per-game basis and Adelaide United just one win behind. 

Any slip ups, from now until our final position is locked, could cost us dearly.

Return of the Mac?

We’re pulling out the famous lyric again this season, this time to signify the potential return of Holly McNamara following an exciting (if also disappointing on a team level) first taste of international football with the Matildas at the Asian Cup.

The 18-year-old, who has just five professional Club games under her belt, looked a natural in the green and gold, appearing in all three group stage matches, including a start against the Philippines in Game 3.

City fans will be desperate to have her back too, with the team only scraping past Adelaide and Brisbane, and losing to Sydney, in her absence. City’s goals per game stat dropped from 2.8 with her in the team to 1.0 in the three games played without her. Upon closer inspection, it’s also interesting how important the youngster’s service has been to current Golden Boot leader Hannah Wilkinson, with the Kiwi’s shots per game dropping from 4.4 to 2.0 without her young strike partner in the side.

Though fans will hope to see her back in City blue following her time away with the Matildas, McNamara could be in doubt for the clash after limping off the field in that Philippines group stage game and missing the Quarter-Final against South Korea.

Which Wanderers shows up?

Up until last weekend, Western Sydney had curiously boasted the league’s second-best defence, conceding five goals in seven games, despite sitting in the bottom three.

Whilst it was their form in front of goal that had been the major concern to that point, netting just twice, the Wanderers may now also have defensive issues to rectify after conceding three goals against Adelaide United last round.

Given their previous defensive form heading into the Adelaide clash, Western Sydney loomed as exactly the type of banana peel fixture that City needs to avoid if it wants to guarantee second place, as discussed earlier.