Melbourne City and Sydney FC will fight it out for three points to keep pace with leaders Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday in a critical Hyundai A-League encounter.
Saturday, 2 January 2016
Melbourne City FC v Sydney FC
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 7:30 PM (Local) (7:30 PM (AEDT))
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Assistant Referee 1: Brad Hobson
Assistant Referee 2: George Lakrindis
Fourth Official: Lucien Laverdure
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 1 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, 702 ABC Sydney, ABC Local Radio Vic, ABC Local Radio NSW, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live.
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #MCYvSYD
To purchase tickets visit www.a-league.com.au/tickets
Melbourne City FC squad: 1. Thomas SORENSEN (GK), 3. Aaron HUGHES, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 8. Aaron MOOY, 9. Harry NOVILLO, 10. Robert KOREN, 15. David WILLIAMS, 16. Jason TRIFIRO, 19. Ben GARUCCIO, 20. Tando VELAPHI (GK), 21. Stefan MAUK, 22. Jack CLISBY, 23. Bruno FORNAROLI, 24. Patrick KISNORBO (c), 25. Jacob MELLING, 30. Hernan ESPINDOLA, 34. Stefan ZINNI
Ins: 16. Jason TRIFIRO, 25. Jacob MELLING, 30. Hernan ESPINDOLA (all promoted)
Outs: 18. Paulo RETRE (suspended - accumulation 5 cards)
Unavailable: 4. Connor CHAPMAN (knee - 2-3 months), 7. Corey GAMEIRO (knee - season), 14. James BROWN (foot - 1-2 weeks), 26. Marc MARINO (knee - 3 weeks).
Sydney FC squad: 1.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 2.Seb RYALL, 3.Alex GERSBACH, 5.Matt JURMAN, 6. Robert STAMBOLZIEV, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Christopher NAUMOFF, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 19. Jacques FATY, 20.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 21. Filip HOLOSKO, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 24.George BLACKWOOD, 25.Aaron CALVER, 27.Mickael TAVARES **two to be omitted**
Ins: 9.Shane SMELTZ (return from injury), 11.Christopher NAUMOFF (promoted), 21. Filip HOLOSKO (return from suspension), 25.Aaron CALVER (promoted)
Outs: 14.Alex BROSQUE (hamstring – 1 week), 18. Matt SIMON (suspended – 1 week)
Unavailable: 22.Ali ABBAS (knee – indefinite)
Saturday night's match at AAMI Park shapes as yet another vital encounter for City.
After seemingly proving their title credentials with a 2-1 derby win over Melbourne Victory, City lost 3-1 away to Brisbane Roar last week, with some of John van 't Schip's key players barely getting out of second gear in Queensland.
Back on home soil and looking for three straight wins at AAMI Park for the first time since last season, City will give the cynics some ammunition if they fail against Sydney FC.
Van 't Schip may want to start veterans Robi Koren and Aaron Hughes against the Sky Blues to spark his side, while the Dutch coach is without young midfielder Paulo Retre, who is suspended.
Sydney coach Graham Arnold will have to revamp his forward set-up yet again with Matt Simon suspended for a hit on Jake McGing of Central Coast Mariners last week, while captain Alex Brosque's hamstring has flared up.
Filip Holosko returns from suspension, while Shane Smeltz could also start after recovering from a groin strain, although the New Zealand international has only scored one goal this term.
Sydney fans will hope last week's 4-1 triumph over the Mariners can kick-start their team's campaign - as a similar result did in 2014-15.
But if Arnold and Co. slump to defeat against City, their success against Central Coast will be labelled a false dawn.
Depending on Western Sydney Wanderers' result against Adelaide United on New Year's Day, a win in this match would see either City or Sydney move within three points of the Red and Blacks.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
- Sydney are without victory in their last three away fixtures - a fourth match would be their longest streak since November 2013 when they went 11 matches without a win
- Melbourne City have attempted the most shots at goal (152, excl. blocked) and the most shots on target (72) in the A-League in 2015-16
- Sydney have allowed their opponents a league-low 25 shots on target in 12 A-League games this season, while the Sky Blues have also kept six clean sheets - more than any other team
ROUTE TO GOAL
The first goal could quite easily decide this match with City having failed to come from behind and earn points this season.
Meanwhile, in the nine games where City have opened the scoring, they have won six times and lost just once.
It's no secret that Sydney have generally struggled for goals this term - just 11 in 11 matches before last week - and with leading scorer Brosque (5 goals) out after a brace against Central Coast, the pressure will be on Holosko.
Sydney's marquee has perhaps been unfairly blamed for the scoring woes at Allianz Stadium, with the Slovakia international having managed four goals from the wing.
Holosko struck in his last two matches before yellow card accumulation saw him miss the match against the Mariners, and he is desperate to maintain his momentum in Melbourne.
Smeltz, Milos Ninkovic (1 goal) and Andrew Hoole (0) need to step up in the absence of Brosque.
If City can give A-League golden boot leader Bruno Fornaroli (10 goals) enough service, the hosts will be tough to stop.
Fornaroli is quickly making a case to be considered the leading import in the A-League, while City can also bank on the likes of Aaron Mooy (6), Stefan Mauk and Harry Novillo (both 4) to impact the scoreboard.
Defensively, however, City remain a work in progress, as they have only managed one clean sheet so far in 2015-16.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Matt Simon. The former Mariners striker was cited and eventually suspended for one game by the Hyundai A-League's match review panel for making contact with Central Coast's Jake McGing in Round 12.
Melbourne City: WWWWL
Sydney FC: DWLDW
Melbourne City 2-1 Sydney FC