Hyundai A-League preview: City v Phoenix
Wellington Phoenix's ordinary away form will be severely tested on Monday night as they travel to bogey side Melbourne City, who certainly know how to find the back of the net.
Monday, 25 January 2016
Melbourne City FC v Wellington Phoenix
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 7:30 PM (Local) (7:30 PM (AEDT))
Referee: Peter Green
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 1 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live.
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #MCYvWEL
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets
Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Thomas SORENSEN (GK), 3.Aaron HUGHES, 5.Ivan FRANJC, 6.Erik PAARTALU, 8.Aaron MOOY, 9.Harry NOVILLO, 11.Michael ZULLO, 16.Jason TRIFIRO, 17.Wade DEKKER, 18.Paulo RETRE, 19.Ben GARUCCIO, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (GK), 21.Stefan MAUK , 23.Bruno FORNAROLI, 24.Patrick KISNORBO (c), 25.Jacob MELLING, 28.Steve KUZMANOVSKI, 29.Anthony CACERES
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 5.Ivan FRANJIC (returns from injury), 21.Stefan MAUK (return from Olyroos duty), 28.Steve KUZMANOVSKI (promoted), 29.Anthony CACERES (new on-loan signing)
Outs: 15.David WILLIAMS (released), 22.Jack CLISBY (suspension – 1 week)
Unavailable: 4.Connor CHAPMAN (knee – 2 months), 7.Corey GAMEIRO (knee – season), 14.James BROWN (fitness – 1 week)
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3.Justin GULLEY, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Troy DANASKOS, 6.Dylan FOX, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 10.Michael MCGLINCHEY, 11.Kwabena APPIAH, 12.Blake POWELL, 13.Albert RIERA, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Vince LIA, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Matthew RIDENTON, 28.Joel STEVENS
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Manny MUSCAT (returns from suspension), 16.Louis FENTON (returns from injury)
Unavailable: 14.Alex RUFER (broken leg – season), 18.Ben SIGMUND (hip – 2-3 weeks), 21.Roy KRISHNA (ankle – 10-12 weeks)
Throughout their history, the Phoenix have been renowned as poor travellers.
Since entering the A-League in the 2007-08 season, Wellington's win percentage away from home has been just 24.35%.
Last term, coach Ernie Merrick made the Phoenix much stronger on the road with a win percentage of 53.85%, but with just one victory in nine away matches in 2015-16, that stat has plummeted to 11.11%
Wellington will head to AAMI Park knowing they need to find the right formula to pick up points outside of New Zealand - and fast - but their record away to City will be worrying for Merrick.
In seven trips to Melbourne to play City, the Phoenix have only a solitary win.
Merrick's comment this week that City's loan agreement with sister club Manchester City for Anthony Caceres was "farcical" will add an extra layer to this comment.
Manchester City paid Central Coast Mariners a transfer fee last week to sign Caceres before sending him to Melbourne.
The loan move allowed City Football Group to get around the prohibition on A-League clubs paying transfer fees to each other.
It will be intriguing to see where Caceres lines up for City, if he starts at all, with coach John van 't Schip having some joy with a 3-5-2 formation over the past fortnight.
Ivan Franjic and Stefan Mauk will also be important additions for the home team, while the Phoenix regain defenders Manny Muscat and Louis Fenton.
City have won two and drawn three of their last six league matches against Wellington (including a 2-0 finals win last term in NZ).
Van 't Schip's men are undefeated in their last four matches at home (W3, D1) and have scored an imposing 12 goals in that period
The Phoenix are without a win in six A-League matches
Wellington have made 232 tackles this season, the fewest of any team, while City have made the most with 285
ROUTE TO GOAL
In the past three Hyundai A-League meetings, City and the Phoenix have scored just two goals combined, with two of those games ending 0-0.
But it's hard to know what to make of that as these two teams have yet to meet in the 2015-16 A-League campaign.
While City thumped Wellington 5-1 in the Westfield FFA Cup in August, Merrick had a very depleted squad for that trip to Melbourne.
But the Phoenix do enter this clash with issues in front of goal.
Leading scorer Roy Krishna (ankle) is likely to miss the rest of the season through injury and Wellington have hit the back of the net just four times in their winless run.
Merrick needs the likes of Blake Powell, Michael McGlinchey (both 2 goals) and Jeffrey Sarpong (0) to make more of a scoreboard impact.
Goals are the least of City's problems after 15 rounds with no side having scored more than Van 't Schip's men.
Bruno Fornaroli (12 goals) has taken the competition by storm, while Aaron Mooy (7) struck City's second in their 2-2 draw at Perth Glory last week.
Harry Novillo (6) also seems to reaching top form, which will be concerning for the visiting defenders.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Ernie Merrick. The Phoenix coach joked that his club are trying to get Chelsea to sign players for them and loan them to Wellington for "$5 a week" after Anthony Caceres' move to Melbourne City was confirmed.
Melbourne City: WLDWD
Wellington Phoenix: DLLDL
Melbourne City 3-0 Wellington Phoenix