The games don’t get any easier for Sydney FC as we enter the run in for the remainder of the season. Just nine games remain and the battle for the top six spots is as tight as ever.
With every point vital, this weekend’s clash with Melbourne City is sure to push the Sky Blues all the way as they take on the runaway leaders before backing up the week after against Melbourne Victory at Allianz Stadium.
The Sky Blues and Melbourne Victory are the only two sides who have taken all three points from the reigning premiers and despite having a game in hand, City lead 2nd place Mariners by seven points.
For Sydney FC, coming into this clash they have been in good form, unbeaten in their last four matches, beating the likes of the Mariners, Wanderers and Victory before a dominant performance against Brisbane Roar. Alex Parsons, former Brisbane Roar player popped up with the stoppage time equaliser which the Sky Blues thoroughly deserved after pegging the Roar back at almost every opportunity and also unfortunately missing a penalty.
Penalties have been a concern for Steve Corica this season though, after Joe Lolley was the third player to miss one from 12 yards. Bizarely, only one penalty has been converted for Sydney FC this season, coming in the Round Two clash with Western United from Adam Le Fondre. The other five penalties have all missed the target or been saved which are numbers that are so rarely seen. In contrast, Melbourne City are yet to concede a penalty.
Adam Le Fondre is still sidelined for this one with a hamstring concern, which provides Steve Corica with an option of playing Robert Mak up front, or going with Pat Wood as he did last week. Despite a heavy workload and plenty of running, Wood struggled to get touches on the ball and was substituted for Robert Mak early in the second half. The Slovakian was expected to start against the Roar, however tightness during the week meant he could only start from the bench, but with the attacker now recovered, Corica has a dilemma on his hands for this weekend.
James Donachie will miss this clash after picking up too many yellow cards and will serve a one match suspension before returning against his former club in the Big Blue at Allianz Stadium next Saturday evening.
For Melbourne City, they have been in a see-saw season arc. In some games they are at their brilliant free flowing best, while others, they struggle to get going. Recently, they swept Macarthur FC aside in a 6-1 whitewash, meanwhile they didn’t perform to their high standards in last weekend’s Melbourne Derby, losing 3-2.
In their last four matches, they have found the net 15 times, demonstrating their potency in front of goal, however, they have also leaked 9 at the other end. Under Rado Vidosic, City appear to not have the same swagger that they did under Patrick Kisnorbo where they comfortably swept teams aside in attack and kept out goals in defence.
The last time that Sydney FC won against Melbourne City in Victoria came back in 2018 in a 3-0 win however, City will be up for this as they look to avoid back to back defeats at AAMI Park for the first time in a year.
Overall, this will be the 40th meeting between the two sides, with Sydney FC winning 16 matches, City winning 13 and the other 10 matches drawn. Between the two teams, goals have been very even, with the Sky Blues netting 54 times, and the Victorians 50, which points to this weekend being a very even clash across the park.
Sydney’s trip to face City is the first leg of a Melbourne match-up with Victory coming to Allianz Stadium on Saturday 4 March for the final Big Blue of the season. Get your tickets here.
Ones to Watch
Sydney FC – Joe Lolley
Sydney’s English winger scored in the previous meeting between the two sides at Allianz Stadium and he will be looking to make amends for last week’s penalty miss against Brisbane Roar. The former Nottingham Forest striker leads the league with take ons in the opposition box (12) and he is always looking to create chances for himself and his team-mates with his dangerous left foot.
With five goals to his name this season, Lolley is second on the Sydney FC goalscoring charts behind Adam Le Fondre and with the number nine sidelined for the next few matches, this is the perfect opportunity for Lolley to leapfrog him to the top of the charts. He found the net earlier in the season at AAMI Park against Western United and assisted Adam Le Fondre in the Big Blue at the same venue, so he will be one to watch against Melbourne City.
Melbourne City – Jamie Maclaren
The Socceroos striker has been in a world of his own in the last few seasons in the Isuzu UTE A-League, winning the golden boot in each of his last three attempts. This season, Maclaren has made 17 appearances and scored 16 goals, a ridiculous record in every right. He has already bettered his tally of 15 goals which won him the golden boot last season.
The City number nine also broke the A-League record for scoring in the most consecutive games when he went on a run of 10 consecutive matches where he found the net. Deadly in and around the box, Jamie Maclaren is not one to leave un-marked in the area as he will pounce on a loose ball. He loves playing his football at AAMI Park and will be one that Sydney FC defenders will need to keep an eye on.
Melbourne City v Sydney FC
Isuzu UTE A-League Round 18
Saturday 25th February 2023
AAMI Park, Melbourne, VIC
Kick Off: 5pm AEDT
Broadcast Live: Paramount+
Tickets: Click Here