Preview Points: City v Mariners

Melbourne City FC will aim to continue its charge towards the Hyundai A-League Finals Series with a win over the Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park on Sunday evening. We provide a rundown of the latest team news, key quotes and statistics ahead of the Round 20 clash.

The Lowdown

After earning a share of the spoils in a pulsating Melbourne derby last week, John van’t Schip’s side will aim to return to winning ways at AAMI Park on Sunday. Currently sitting six points adrift of league leaders Brisbane Roar, City will be hoping to close the gap with a win over the Mariners, who currently occupy bottom spot on the league table.

Tony Walmsley’s side will be buoyed by an improved showing in a narrow 2-3 defeat to Adelaide United last week, but will need to be at their best defensively to hold firm against the league’s highest scoring team – a difficult proposition considering the Mariners have conceded a league high 45 goals this season.

 

Head to Head

City ran out comfortable 3-1 winners in the last meeting between the two sides at AAMI Park in Round 3, while a crushing 5-1 win in the reverse fixture in Round 9 saw van’t Schip’s side breaking a long standing hoodoo with a first ever away win at Central Coast Stadium.

However, the form guide prior to that will provide the Mariners with some solace, with City winning only one of 15 matches against the Gosford based club in the Hyundai A-League.

 

Team News 

Head Coach John van’t Schip has made only two changes to the match day squad for Sunday’smatch against the Mariners, with Anthony Caceres missing out through suspension and Harry Novillo omitted from the side.

Jacob Melling is likely to fill the midfield void left by Caceres after missing the Melbourne Derby through suspension, while youngster Steve Kuzmanovski is also promoted to the extended squad.

The Mariners will be without centre-back Jake McGing, who suffered a gluteal tear against Adelaide United last week, but will welcome back young defender Harry Ascroft after completing his one-match suspension.

Click here for the full Team News

 

From the change room

“John van’t Schip has stressed to us the importance of winning these games. They are games that we need to win if we want to be there and there about at the end of the season. All the boys are geared up and we are ready to fight really hard on Sunday.” – Melbourne City midfielder Osama Malik.

Opposition viewpoint

“Luis [Garcia] had been fantastic coming off the bench. His leadership on the pitch was great. "[But] it's always harder to start a game…It was great for him to start for us and the players lift by just having him out on the pitch. I look forward to him repeating and putting a little bit more in against Melbourne City.” – Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Tony Walmsley


Danger man 

Former Liverpool legend Luis Garcia has made a significant impact since joining Central Coast, providing his side with a beacon of creativity in the final third. The Spaniard’s performance in against Wellington in Round 17 exemplifies his quality, netting an audacious back-heel and registering two assists as the Mariners romped home to a 3-1 win.

The 37-year-old is edging closer to full fitness after making his maiden start against Adelaide last week, with Head Coach Walmsley declaring Garcia will play from the outset against City on Sunday.

 

How to Follow the Match:

The Round 20 clash kicks-off at 5pm AEST and Melbourne City FC are continuing the Chinese New Year celebrations by offering fans a special $5 discount off tickets purchased for this Sunday! Enter the code ‘CNY2016’ online via Ticketek to celebrate the Year of the Monkey.

You can follow all the match action live on Twitter @melbournecity, or by using the match hashtag: #MCYvCCM

 

Stat Pack

  • Central Coast Mariners have conceded 23 of their 45 goals in the final half hour of matches this Hyundai A-League season, eight more than the two next teams (Melbourne City, Wellington).
     
  • City is undefeated in their last six home fixtures (W4, D2) and have lost only twice in their last 18 Hyundai A-League matches on home soil.
     
  • The Mariners Luis Garcia (4) has played the most Hyundai A-League games of any outfield player yet to concede a foul so far this season.
     
  • Only on three occasions has either team managed to score more than two goals in this fixture, with City scoring three goals and five goals in the last two matches respectively.
     
  • Only Brisbane Roar’s Corona (810) has made more passes in the opposition half than Aaron Mooy this season (708)