Hyundai A-League preview: City v Phoenix

Unpredictable Wellington Phoenix don't enjoy Victoria's capital, which bodes well for Premiership contenders Melbourne City who are desperate to maintain pressure on Wanderers for that Premiership trophy.

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Monday, 28 March 2016

Melbourne City FC v Wellington Phoenix

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Kick-Off: 7:30 PM (Local) (7:30 PM (AEDT))

Referee: Chris Beath

Assistant Referee 1: George Lakrindis

Assistant Referee 2: Brad Hobson

Fourth Official: Lucien Laverdure

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport X (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne ABC Local Radio Vic, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live. SEN Radio (Melbourne).

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #MCYvWEL

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets

#MCYvWEL

Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Thomas SORENSEN (gk), 4.Connor CHAPMAN, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 9.Harry NOVILLO, 11.Michael ZULLO, 14.James BROWN, 16.Jason TIFIRO, 18.Paulo RETRE, 19.Ben GARUCCIO, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 22.Jack CLISBY, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI, 24.Patrick KISNORBO, 25.Jacob MELLING, 26.Marc MARINO, 27.Nick FITZGERALD, 29.Anthony CACERES, 33.Osama MALIK

Melbourne City midfielder Aaron Mooy has signed with sister club Manchester City.

Ins: 16.Jason TRIFIRO (promoted), 18.Paulo RETRE (promoted), 22.Jack CLISBY (promoted), 14.James BROWN (promoted)

Outs: 2.Alex WILKINSON (international duty – 1 week), 8.Aaron MOOY (international duty – 1 week)

Unavailable: 3.Aaron HUGHES (international duty), 7.Corey GAMEIRO (knee – season), 17.Wade DEKKER (ankle – season)

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3.Justin GULLEY, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 6.Dylan FOX, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 10.Michael MCGLINCHEY, 12.Blake POWELL, 13.Albert RIERA, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Vince LIA, 18.Ben SIGMUND, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Matthew RIDENTON, 26.Hamish WATSON

**one to be omitted**

Wellington Phoenix have re-signed Roy Krishna until 2018.

Ins: 3.Justin GULLEY (promoted), 21.Roy KRISHNA (returns from injury)

Outs: 19.Thomas DOYLE (suspended – 1 week)

Unavailable: 14.Alex RUFER (broken leg – season)

BLUFFER'S GUIDE

City coach John van 't Schip likes to talk about Wellington Phoenix's "strange results" and Monday night's match looms as a potential banana skin for the Dutchman's side.

While City have beaten Wellington in three of their last four meetings in all competitions, the Phoenix did overcome Van 't Schip's men 2-1 just last month and they have notched impressive wins in two of their past three away games.

Wellington have been unbelievably inconsistent of late - their past seven games have alternated from defeat to victory - but based on that pattern they would be due another win at AAMI Park after losing 2-1 at home to Perth Glory last week.

A disappointed Glen Moss after conceding a second goal to Perth on Sunday.

But Melbourne has never been a happy hunting ground for the Phoenix - they have won just two of 21 Hyundai A-League games there.

Regardless of the Phoenix's history, however, City must win this match if they are to strengthen their A-League title credentials.

City enter Round 25 just one point adrift of leaders Western Sydney Wanderers and with two tougher games to come before finals - away to Perth Glory and home against Adelaide United - this match is the closest Van 't Schip and Co. will come to a "gimme" three points.

This fixture is the type of game City - or their predecessors Melbourne Heart - would have struggled with previously - as clear favourites against inconsistent opposition - but the current squad appear to be made of sterner stuff.

City v Phoenix

OPTA DATA

  • The Phoenix have won just two of 13 A-League games at AAMI Park
  • City thumped Wellington 5-1 at the same venue in the 2015 FFA Cup, with Bruno Fornaroli scoring his first competitive goal for the Bundoora-based club
  • Wellington haven't kept a clean sheet in 10 games
  • City have scored at least two goals in their past nine matches at home

ROUTE TO GOAL

As if City weren't tough enough to stop up front, now Nick Fitzgerald and Anthony Caceres have joined the party.

The former Central Coast Mariners pair both scored in City's 3-1 comeback win over Brisbane Roar last week, with Fitzgerald having notched goals in consecutive matches for his new club.

Nick Fitzgerald and Anthony Caceres

Fitzgerald has thrived in the past two games as Van 't Schip switched to a 4-4-2 formation, with the 24-year-old on the right wing and Michael Zullo playing wide left.

City will be without attacking midfielder Aaron Mooy, who is with the Caltex Socceroos, so Caceres may step into his role behind the front two of Fornaroli and Harry Novillo.

The hosts will also be missing Socceroo centre-back Alex Wilkinson, who has been critical to City's improved defensive performances, so Wellington's resurgent forward set-up may be able to find some gaps on Monday.

Phoenix have scored 13 goals in their past six matches with Blake Powell (5 goals) and Hamish Watson (3) developing a decent partnership up front for Ernie Merrick's men.

But even with Mooy absent, City should have too much firepower for Merrick's defence, which has conceded 13 goals in the Phoenix's past six games.

WHO HAS BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Phoenix. They pulled of a coup by signing Gui Finkler from City's cross-town rivals Victory.

FORM LINES

Melbourne City: WLWWW

Wellington Phoenix: LWLWL

PREDICTION

Melbourne City 3-1 Wellington Phoenix

#MCYvWEL