Melbourne City FC will aim to return to the winners list against Sydney FC on Saturday night. We provide a rundown of the latest team news, quotes and key statistics ahead of the crucial Round 22 clash at AAMI Park.
With only six matches remaining in the regular season, City and Sydney find themselves firmly entrenched in a battle to secure positions inside the Hyundai A-League top six.
Separated by a mere two points on the league table, Saturday night’s clash at AAMI Park arrives at a critical juncture of the season for both sides.
City will seek to return to winning ways after falling to a defeat against Wellington last week. John van’t Schip’s side currently sit in fourth position, six points off league leaders Western Sydney Wanderers, and head into the contest unbeaten in the last seven Hyundai A-League matches played at AAMI Park.
Sitting two spots behind City in sixth place, Sydney arrive in Melbourne without a win from the last six domestic fixtures and find themselves under pressure from a resurgent Perth Glory outfit, who are snapping at their heels for a place in the Finals positions.
A gritty 1-1 draw against Melbourne Victory in Round 21 came at a severe cost for the visitors – who could be without up to six key first-team players against City – but an undermanned Sydney outfit will arrive in Melbourne brimming with confidence after a memorable midweek 2-1 win over reigning Asian Champions Guangzhou Evergrande.
Head to Head
Clashes between City and Sydney have often been tense encounters, with three of the last five matches between the two sides ending in draws stalemates.
The previous encounter at AAMI Park saw an undermanned City side secure a resolute 2-2 draw in a pulsating Round 13 contest, while Wade Dekker’s first Hyundai A-League goal was cancelled out by Slovakian striker Filip Holosko during a 1-1 draw at Allianz Stadium in Round 1.
City’s playing list continues to move from strength to strength, with Head Coach John van’t Schip boasting a near full-strength squad of players ahead of Saturday night’s clash.
Defender Connor Chapman is set to return to action for the first time in three months following his recovery from a MCL tear to his right knee, while Harry Novillo is also included in the extended squad after serving a two-week Club imposed suspension.
Meanwhile, the Sky Blues have made a number of forced changes ahead of their second trip to AAMI Park in the space of a week, with key attackers Alex Brosque and David Carney unavailable through injury and suspension respectively.
Forward Matt Simon is also under an injury cloud, while in-form City duo Bruno Fornaroli and Aaron Mooy will fancy their chances against a defensive unit deprived of Jacques Faty, Sebastian Ryall and Rhyan Grant - who are all suspended.
Zac Anderson, Andrew Hoole, Christopher Naumoff, Ali Abbas, George Blackwood, Mickael Tavares and Alex Mullen are the players promoted in their absence.
Sydney playmaker Milos Ninkovic will be hoping to repeat his AAMI Park heroics on Saturday, after rescuing a point for the Sky Blues with a well-taken brace in the pulsating 2-2 draw against City in Round 13.
A key member of Serbia’s 2010 FIFA World Cup squad, Ninkovic has been a constant source of creativity for a Sydney side who have found goals hard to come by, forging one of the most damaging strike partnerships in the competition with Slovakian international - and Sydney’s top goal scorer - Filip Holosko.
“You still have to beat the opposition, no matter who’s playing or not. We’ll give them the respect they deserve but we want to be on top and we want to win and it doesn't matter what 11 are out there, we need to beat the opposition that's in front of us.” – City captain Patrick Kisnorbo.
“We do have a few players out but I don’t think that’s going to cause any trouble for us, you could see [against Guangzhou] Rob Stambolziev and Aaron Calver come into the starting line-up and I think they did really well. If they can play that great against the Champions of Asia I think they can do great on Saturday as well and whoever comes in we know they can do a great job.” – Sydney FC defender Matt Jurman.
How to follow the match
The Round 21 clash kicks off at AAMI Park at 7:30pm, with gates open from 6:30pm. You can follow all the match action live on Twitter @MelbourneCity or by using the match hashtag: #MCYvSYD
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- Neither team has scored more than two goals in any of their last eight iterations of this fixture, beyond that only Melbourne City have scored a brace of goals (three times).
- Three of the last five matches between the sides have ended in a stalemate, with a win to each side in the remaining two matches.
- There has been an average of 4.4 goals scored per game across Melbourne City’s last 14 matches; of those the Club has scored an average of 2.7.
- City are undefeated in the last seven matches at home in the Hyundai A-League, the second longest streak in the Club’s history.
- Matt Jurman has made 74 clearances so far this season, the most of any player and 10 more than Patrick Kisnorbo, who leads City for clearances made.
- Bruno Fornaroli has a shooting accuracy of 69%, the best of any player to have attempted at least 15 shots on goal so far this season.