Hyundai A-League preview: City v Wanderers

How will this week's shock resignation of coach John van ‘t Schip affect Melbourne City against the visiting Western Sydney Wanderers? A tasty Harvey Norman Friday Night Football clash is on the cards between these two top-six sides.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Melbourne City FC v Western Sydney Wanderers FC

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Kick-Off:  7:50PM (Local) (7:50PM (AEDT))

Referee:  Alan Milliner

Assistant Referee 1:  George Lakrindis

Assistant Referee 2:  Ryan Gallagher

Fourth Official:  Jonathan Barreiro

TV Broadcast:  Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT), SBS VICELAND from 7.30pm AEDT and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast:  774 ABC Melbourne, 702 ABC Sydney, 666 ABC Canberra, ABC Local Radio Vic/NSW Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live, Crocmedia A-League Live (www.facebook.com/A-leagueLIVERadio), 1116 SEN (Melbourne), Hawkesbury Radio

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

To purchase tickets visit  www.aleague.com.au

Melbourne City FC Squad:  1.Thomas SORENSEN (gk), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3.Josh ROSE, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 6.Osama MALIK, 8.Neil KILKENNY, 9.Nicolas COLAZO, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Bruce KAMAU, 12.Nick FITZGERALD, 14.Daniel ARZANI, 17.Tim CAHILL, 18.Paulo RETRE, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 21.Ruon TONGYIK, 22.Michael JAKOBSEN, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI (c), 26.Luke BRATTAN,

**two to be omitted**

Ins:  3.Josh ROSE (promoted), 2.Manny MUSCAT (promoted), 22.Michael JAKOBSEN (returns from injury), 6.Osama MALIK (returns from injury)

Michael Jakobsen

Outs:  34.Denis GENREAU (omitted), 4.Connor CHAPMAN (omitted)

Unavailable:  7.Corey GAMEIRO (ACL – season), 28.Steve KUZMANOVSKI (ACL – season), 27.Fernando BRANDAN (suspended - 1 week)

Western Sydney Wanderers FC  Squad:  1.Jerrad TYSON (gk), 3.Jack CLISBY, 5.Brendan HAMILL, 6.Mitch NICHOLS (c), 7. Steven LUSTICA, 10.Nicolás MARTÍNEZ, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 13.Bruno PIÑATARES, 14.Jumpei KUSUKAMI, 15.Kearyn BACCUS, 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 17.Artiz BORDA, 18.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 23.Lachlan SCOTT, 24. Terry ANTONIS, 42.Keanu BACCUS

**two to be omitted**

Ins:  7. Steven LUSTICA (promoted), 12.Scott NEVILLE (promoted), 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (new signing), 24. Terry ANTONIS (new signing)

Wanderers signing Terry Antonis during his first training session for his new club.

Outs:  8.DIMAS (suspended – 1 match), 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (departed club)

Unavailable:  2.Shannon COLE (injured - 1 week), 11.Brendon SANTALAB (suspended – 2 weeks)

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

The wins have proved hard to come by for both sides of late, giving this Harvey Norman Friday Night blockbuster even greater importance.

City hasn’t won since their Westfield FFA Cup triumph in November, dropping to fourth on the Hyundai A-League ladder.

It’s been an inability to hold onto leads which has proved their downfall. 

Melbourne City players celebrate Tim Cahill's opener against the Mariners on New Year's Eve in Gosford.

The shock departure of  van ‘t Schip this week has only added to the intrigue and it will be interesting to see how they respond under the assistant coach, the well-regarded Michael Valkanis, in the interim. 

A former rugged defender, Valkanis has recalled the likes of Muscat, Jakobsen and Rose to the squad. 

For the Wanderers, they jumped back into the top six last round despite being held to a 1-1 draw with Perth Glory.

That’s now eight draws – including a 1-1 against City in Sydney in November - from the opening 13 rounds for Tony Popovic’s side.

They've had issues at both ends of the pitch, leaking a few too many goals for the coach’s liking, while struggling to make the most of their opportunities at the other end.

Nico Martinez (Wanderers)

The visitors will need to get both right if they are any hope of getting a result against a City side that generally loves playing at AAMI Park.

And the visitors will be boosted though with new signings Vedran Janjetovic and Terry Antonis, both named in an extended squad and pushing to make their club debuts.

OPTA DATA

*There have been 14 goals scored in the last three Hyundai A-League clashes between these teams, with each team notching a win and a draw in that period.

*Melbourne City have won seven penalties for the Hyundai A-League campaign, the most of any team and five more than Western Sydney Wanderers.

*Western Sydney Wanderers are undefeated in their last five Friday fixtures (W2, D3) in the Hyundai A-League, though each of the last three has finished in a 1-1 draw.

*City star Tim Cahill has three headed goals so far this Hyundai A-League season, more than any other player in the league.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Before the season, there were doubts if Fornaroli and Cahill together would work. There’s no doubts now with both strong contributors for City of late.

Fornaroli scored three times during the Hyundai A-League’s Summer of Football to sit joint top of the goal-scoring charts (with 10), while the Caltex Socceroo great has netted in the last three matches.

Melbourne City skipper Bruno Fornaroli holds off a defender in the NYE clash with the Mariners.

The key will again by getting excellent service into the duo, especially from the wide areas, getting in behind Western Sydney’s attack-minded fullbacks Neville and Clisby.

It will also be interesting to see if a new manager in Valkanis will bring any tactical tweaks to City’s play, although that would seem unlikely given the time he’s been in charge.

The Wanderers remain limited in their attacking stocks with Santalab suspended and Bulut no longer at the club.

Teenager Lachlan Scott manfully led the line against Glory but it’s a lot to ask a 19-year-old to be their chief scorer.

Popovic may decide to tinker with his starting side and potentially use Jumpei or the scorer against Glory Jaushua Sotirio in a "False 9". 

Jumpei Kusukami - Western Sydney Wanderers

And if Nico Martinez fires - and you can rely on the Argentine - the Wanderers are always a hope.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK

John van 't Schip. The coach who was there on day one and was in his second stint with the club has left Australia for family reasons. 

FORM LINES (last five games)

City: DDLDD

Wanderers: WLDDD

PREDICTION

Melbourne City 2-2 Western Sydney Wanderers