Hyundai A-League preview: Phoenix v City

​Melbourne City visit Wellington for the first time this Hyundai A-League season, looking to maintain their charge towards a maiden title. Can an inconsistent Phoenix halt their momentum, or will Aaron Mooy mastermind another Melbourne master-class?

MATCH DETAILS

Friday, 26 February 2016

Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne City

Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Kick-Off: 7.30PM (Local) (5.30PM (AEDT))

Referee: Matthew Conger

Assistant Referee 1: Mark Rule

Assistant Referee 2: Glen Lochrie

Fourth Official: Stephen Lucas

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live. Radio Sport NZ via website and I-Heart Radio App.

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

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

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1. Glen MOSS (GK), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 4. Roly BONEVACIA, 5. Troy DANASKOS, 6. Dylan FOX, 8. Alex RODRIGUEZ, 10. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 11. Kwabena APPIAH, 12. Blake POWELL, 13. Albert RIERA, 15. James MCGARRY, 16. Louis FENTON, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 19. Tom DOYLE, 20. Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 22. Andrew DURANTE (captain), 23. Matthew RIDENTON, 24. Logan ROGERSON

**Two to be omitted**

Ins: 5. Troy DANASKOS (promoted), 8. Alex RODRIGUEZ (returns from injury), 24. Logan ROGERSON (promoted).

Alex Rodriguez

Outs: 26. Hamish WATSON (suspended).

Unavailable: 14. Alex RUFER (broken leg, season), 17. Vince LIA (knee injury 2 to 3 weeks), 21.Roy KRISHNA (ankle injury 10 to 12 weeks), 26. Hamish WATSON (suspended)

Melbourne City FC: 1. Thomas SORENSEN (GK), 2. Alex WILKINSON, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 8. Aaron MOOY, 11. Michael ZULLO, 14. James BROWN, 18. Paulo RETRE, 19. Ben GARUCCIO, 20. Dean BOUZANIS (GK), 22. Jack CLISBY, 23. Bruno FORNAROLI, 24. Patrick KISNORBO (captain), 25. Jacob MELLING, 26. Marc MARINO, 27. Nick FITZGERALD, 28. Steve KUZMANOVSKI, 29. Anthony CACERES, 33. Osama MALIK

***Two to be omitted***

Ins: 14. James BROWN (promoted), 26. Marc MARINO (promoted), 29. Anthony CACERES (returns from suspension)

Anthony Caceres returns from suspension this weekend for Melbourne City's clash with Victory.

Outs: 17. Wade DEKKER (omitted)

Unavailable: 7. Corey GAMEIRO (knee – season)

#WELvMCY

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

Melbourne City have genuine designs on the minor premiership and will go to the top of the table for the first time ever (at least a couple of hours) with victory in New Zealand. 

They are comfortably the most potent attacking side in the competition, scoring 15 more goals than anyone else and nearly twice as many as their hosts.

Melbourne City striker Bruno Fornaroli celebrates scoring against the Phoenix in Round 16.

After an arduous recent travel schedule, Wellington will be buoyed by the prospect of five home games in the last seven weeks of the season and a first appearance at Westpac Stadium since having their license extension confirmed. 

While the playoffs are out of reach, there’s still plenty to play for, with contracts on the line for several Phoenix players.

OPTA DATA

- Melbourne City have won three and drawn three of their last seven matches against Wellington, keeping three clean sheets in the process.

- There have been two 0-0 draws in the last four clashes between these teams, one at each side’s home venue.

- Melbourne City have conceded just one goal in their last four matches against Wellington Phoenix.

- Wellington Phoenix have kept two clean sheets in their last four home matches against Melbourne clubs.

- Aaron Mooy has been directly involved in 26 of City’s 50 goals this season (9 goals, 17 assists) – more than any other A-League player.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Just when it looked like Ernie Merrick had unearthed another goal-scoring source, it has been taken away from him. Loan striker Hamish Watson’s brace against Newcastle on Saturday was overshadowed by his sending off for a second yellow card. 

As a result, the onus will again be on Blake Powell to repeat his four-goal heroics of a fortnight ago.

Wellington celebrate one of Blake Powell's three first-half goals against the Wanderers on Sunday.

Melbourne City brought up 50 goals for the season against the Mariners on Sunday and did it without red-hot Bruno Fornaroli finding the net. With 17 so far, the Uruguayan is on track to break the record for the most goals in an A-League season, currently held by Besart Berisha (21 in 2011/12).

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Wellington Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante will play his 200th game for the Wellington Phoenix, incredibly having missed just 14 A-League matches since arriving in Wellington in 2008. He celebrated by inking a two-year contract extension on Wednesday.

FORM LINES

Wellington Phoenix: LLLWL

Melbourne City: WLLDW

PREDICTION

Wellington Phoenix 1 Melbourne City 3