This should be a fascinating encounter as Melbourne City look to exact revenge on a fellow Hyundai A-League title contender after losing 3-0 to Wanderers in November.
Saturday, 9 January 2016
Melbourne City FC v Western Sydney Wanderers FC
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 7:30 PM (Local) (7:30 PM (AEDT))
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Assistant Referee 1: Nathan MacDonald
Assistant Referee 2: Brad Hobson
Fourth Official: Shaun Evans
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, 702 ABC Sydney, 666 ABC Canberra, 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 #MCYvWSW
To purchase tickets visit www.a-league.com.au/tickets
Melbourne City squad: 1.Thomas SORENSEN (GK), 3.Aaron HUGHES, 6.Erik PAARTALU, 8.Aaron MOOY, 9.Harry NOVILLO, 10.Robert KOREN, 11.Michael ZULLO, 15.David WILLIAMS, 16.Jason TRIFIRO, 18.Paul RETRE, 19.Ben GARUCCIO, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (GK), 22.Jack CLISBY, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI, 24.Patrick KISNORBO (c), 25.Jacob MELLING, 36.Matt MILLAR, 39.Ali EYIGUN
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 6.Erik PAARTALU (returns from injury), 8.Aaron MOOY (returns from injury), 15.David WILLIAMS (promoted), 18.Paulo RETRE (returns from suspension), 20.Dean BOUZANIS (GK) (incoming transfer)
Outs: 20.Tando VELAPHI (released), 21.Stefan MAUK (international duty – Olyroos), 30.Hernan ESPINDOLA (omitted)
Unavailable: 4.Connor CHAPMAN (knee – 2-3 months), 5.Ivan FRANJIC (fitness test), 7.Corey GAMEIRO (knee – season), 14.James BROWN (foot – 1 week), 26.Marc MARINO (knee – 2-3 weeks)
Western Sydney Wanderers squad: 3.Scott JAMIESON, 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (c), 6.Mitch NICHOLS, 7.Romeo CASTELEN, 8.DIMAS, 9.Federico PIOVACCARI, 10.Dario VIDOSIC, 11.Brendon SANTALAB, 14.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 15.Kearyn BACCUS, 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 17.ALBERTO, 18.ANDREU, 19.Mark BRIDGE, 20.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 21.Jacob PEPPER, 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 30.Liam REDDY (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 15.Kearyn BACCUS (promoted), 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO (promoted), 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS (promoted), 30.Liam REDDY (gk) (new signing)
Outs: 1.Dean BOUZANIS (gk) (transfer – Melbourne City FC), 12.Scott NEVILLE (suspended – 1 week)
Melbourne City welcomes back key midfielders Aaron Mooy and Erik Paartalu from slight injuries this week.
City coach John van 't Schip and the club's fans were given a reminder of how important both players are last week as a make-shift XI struggled to get going against Sydney FC but held on for a 2-2 draw.
Young midfielder Paulo Retre, who has been impressive in 2015-16, returns from suspension, while David Williams and Dean Bouzanis are promoted.
Ironically, Bouzanis joined City this week from Wanderers after Tando Velaphi departed the Melbourne club but the former is unlikely to play.
Williams was expected to leave City in the January transfer window but he has reportedly backed out of a deal to join Adelaide United and is suddenly back in the squad.
City will be desperate to make a statement against Wanderers after being crushed by Tony Popovic's side in November.
With Mooy away with the Socceroos, City looked helpless against a clinical Western Sydney outfit at AAMI Park, and the visitors will be aiming for a similar performance on Saturday night.
The Wanderers lost top spot in the A-League last week following their scoreless draw with Adelaide but their unbeaten run has now stretched to 10 matches.
New goalkeeper Liam Reddy joins the squad, while Popovic has also promoted a trio of youngsters.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
- Western Sydney have won seven and drawn two of their 10 matches against City in the A-League
- The Wanderers have outscored Van 't Schip's men 7-3 in their last three encounters for two wins and one draw
- City have scored 32 goals so far in the A-League this season - 10 more than any other team
- The Wanderers have kept three clean sheets in their last four A-League matches
ROUTE TO GOAL
The final 15 minutes could decide the game at AAMI Park.
City's defence is the second-worst in the A-League from the 76th minute onwards having let in seven goals in that period, while the Wanderers are the most prolific in the closing stages.
Western Sydney have scored nine of their 20 goals this season in the final quarter-hour of matches.
The key men for the visitors will be Mark Bridge and Mitch Nichols.
Bridge (5 goals, 2 assists) and Nichols (6, 1) have been integral to the Wanderers' improvement in the final third in 2015-16, and when these two sides last met they both scored.
Mooy will undoubtedly make City more fluid in the forward third, as fellow marquee Robi Koren looked very rusty last week.
Bruno Fornaroli, who leads the A-League's race for the golden boot with 11 goals, battled up front alongside Harry Novillo (4 goals this campaign) last week with the latter setting up the former for City's second goal.
It will be interesting to see if van 't Schip utilises the 3-5-2 formation - with Fornaroli and Novillo as a forward pair - at some stage against Western Sydney after changing his tactics versus Sydney to reasonable effect.
While City are undoubtedly the A-League's leading scorers with 32 goals, there is still a sense they are yet to find their right formula to consistently produce results and - perhaps most importantly - hold out the opposition.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
David Williams. The striker was widely expected to move to South Australia as part of a swap deal that would have seen Osama Malik move the other way from Adelaide United, but Williams has reportedly changed his mind.
Melbourne City: WWWLD
Western Sydney Wanderers: WWDWD
Melbourne City 1-1 Western Sydney Wanderers