What to watch for: Western Sydney v City

After its 4-2 win against Newcastle Jets earlier in the week, Melbourne City FC is set for a quick turnaround between games as it prepares to face Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday night.

The team continues its quest to return to its title-winning form from last season and would take great confidence from another positive result away from home.

Here’s what fans should keep an eye on when the teams meet:

How City utilises its squad depth

Having experienced several fixture postponements this season, City fans will begin to see a busier schedule throughout the remainder of the campaign, starting with the team’s upcoming stretch of two games a week for the remainder of the month.

This type of prolonged fixture congestion requires more than just the occasional rotation of players, it demands genuine squad depth – and it’s fortunate that City has managed to bolster its own with the emergence of A-League-ready youngsters and quality January acquisitions.

Following a gruelling 90 minutes in humid conditions in Newcastle on Tuesday night and just a three-day turnaround before the team’s clash against Western Sydney on Friday, the City starting lineup, and any accompanying alterations, will be of extreme interest to fans heading into the clash.

JMac against his favourite team to score against

The trivia-like fact was brought up last time City were set to face the Wanderers and, given he scored in the ensuing clash, we’ll remind you of it again in the hopes of our fortunes repeating: Jamie Maclaren LOVES scoring against Western Sydney.

The 28-year-old has incredibly found the back of the net at a rate of better than once per game when playing the Wanderers, netting 18 times from his 17 meetings with the Red and Black.

His record against Western Sydney in City blue (eight goals in six games) is even better, having both never failed to score in a meeting and never having lost against the Wanderers since arriving in Melbourne in 2019.

Coming into this fixture having scored in seven consecutive games for Club and country – including a double on Tuesday night against Newcastle – City fans will no doubt be hoping to see a familiar name back on the scoresheet on Friday.

Rudan’s Wanderers emerging

After their form to start the new season fell short of internal expectations, Western Sydney recently parted ways with former manager Carl Robinson, with inaugural Western United coach Mark Rudan joining as the Wanderers’ new head coach.

Whilst his new side’s uptick in form was short-lived, winning his first game in charge before more recently falling short against Western United, City fans may be interested in seeing how Rudan’s Wanderers continue to take shape when the teams meet on Friday.

In Robinson’s final five games in charge, the Wanderers conceded 12 goals at a rate of 2.4 per match, subsequently losing all five. In Rudan’s short tenure, his side has conceded one goal in two, allowing a shrewd total of 11 shots over that period.

Fortunately, City should be well-equipped for the task given we average the third-highest number of goals per game in the league, but there’s little doubt that we’re in for a fascinating contest as fans observe the ongoing progress of either team.