Melbourne City FC will face Western United at AAMI Park this Saturday as the A-League Men’s top two sides contest a high-stakes battle that could be decisive in this season’s Premiership race.
The top-of-the-table clash arrives a week earlier than anticipated as it replaces the Melbourne Derby which was due to be contested on Saturday night.
Although it is technically an ‘away’ clash, all City Members have been sent details on how to redeem a free ticket to the fixture.
Here’s what you should be keeping an eye out for in what might be our biggest match of the season so far:
The top of the table
Saturday night’s match could prove to be pivotal not only for our season but also the Premiership race as a whole.
Following City’s Wednesday night win over Macarthur FC, the team is currently level on 32 points with United, who have two games in hand.
Accordingly, Saturday’s blockbuster clash is a true six-pointer in regards to what it means for the gap between the teams by the end of the night; a City win would see us three points ahead, a draw ensures we stay level, whilst a loss would see us fall three points behind, with United maintaining their two games in hand no matter the result.
It goes without saying, then, that fans right across the league will have their eyes fixated on how Saturday’s clash affects the top of the A-League Men table.
One of the biggest questions Head Coach Patrick Kisnorbo will be pondering is how he goes about limiting the influence of Serbian international Aleksandar Prijovic.
Although it may’ve been a slow start for the Western striker with one goal coming in his first five appearances, he’s certainly been firing on all cylinders as of late.
Prijovic now has four goals in his last seven games and has added a further four assists in that time, showing himself to be a huge threat in the front third if given the time and space.
City’s defence has had a habit of leaking goals this season which will no doubt need to rectified if its to walk away with the all important three points.
Is it ‘first goals wins’?
Fans will hardly want to remember the past two meetings between City and Western United, but particularly the Round 3 fixture in which John Aloisi’s men scored 20 minutes in and then soaked up the pressure for the remainder of the contest.
The tactic has proven effective for United this season, with their league-best defence helping them to secure the three points in 83% of games in which they’ve scored first. To further this, they’ve never lost when scoring first.
On the flipside, however, United has lost every game in which they’ve conceded first, going down twice to Melbourne Victory and once to Wellington Phoenix.
It’s an ironic statement to make given United have already done it twice this season (they’re the only team to do so in the league), but shutting out the superstar quality of City’s attack seems near-impossible at the moment. Fans can only hope that our first goal arrives before United’s does, as the game’s opener looks like it will have a serious influence on which way the three points are headed.