What to watch for: Victory v City

The third and final Melbourne Derby of the 2021/22 season is almost here, with City and Victory again set to do battle for footballing superiority within the city at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Unable to be separated in the two previous meetings this season, there will be plenty to watch for as Melbourne’s two shades of blue clash for the 38th time:

Can the teams be separated this time around?

Following a famous pair of one-sided results in 2020/21, the Derby has more recently fizzled out to a run of three-consecutive score-draws, the equal-longest run of meetings between City and Victory left without a winner when the dust settled.

The truth is the teams have been evenly matched in both of their meetings in 2021/22 – and not just on the scoreline. Both Derbies this season have been very evenly contested, and the respective 2-2 and 1-1 results have been a fair representation of that.

However, with City so desperately in search of maximum points in every game and the all-time head-to-head Derby record sitting evenly balanced at 13-11-13, here’s hoping that the third and final meeting between the teams in 2021/22 has a winner that dons the markedly lighter shade of blue.

How big a points buffer can we build before leaving for Thailand?

Following a fourth-consecutive win earlier in the week against Sydney FC, City’s lead atop the A-League Men’s table now sits at an impressive eight points with just one game to play before the team jets off to Thailand for its inaugural Asian Champions League campaign.

In a Test cricket-esque situation, City will now look to Saturday’s Derby as its chance to set as high a points tally as possible for Western United to chase when they play their games in hand whilst we take a near month-long break from A-League Men action.

Though we’ll still have two league fixtures left to play when we return from the group stage – our second innings, if you will – the Premiership equation will be a whole lot clearer by that stage, so we’ll know the results needed from our games against Perth and Wellington that will hopefully be enough to secure top spot.

City’s newfound defensive resoluteness

A trend of conceding cheap consolation goals or frustrating equalisers had seen the City boys possess one of the league’s worst defensive records up until just a few weeks ago.

More recently, a string of three consecutive clean sheets has seen the team move to third for both goals-conceded-per-game and total clean sheets, with the team having the opportunity to equal the club’s record for consecutive clean sheets this weekend.

Whilst the team’s priority in Saturday’s Derby might be to first break down Victory’s league-best defence, another successful shutout would certainly give us a massive boost in our pursuit of another huge three points.