Melbourne City FC will aim to move into first place on the Hyundai A-League table with a win over Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday night. We provide a rundown of the latest team news, quotes and key battles ahead of the top-of-the-table clash.
With only two points separating both sides at the top of the Hyundai A-League table, Friday night’s clash at against league leaders Western Sydney provides City with perhaps its sternest test of the season. John van't Schip's side will be full of confidence after sweeping aside Wellington Phoenix 3-1 on Monday night, while the Wanderers have enjoyed an extra two day’s rest following a narrow 2-1 win over Central Coast on Saturday.
Trips to Wanderland are always a daunting prospect for any side and the Wanderers have been the benchmark of the competition so far this season, but with in-form trio Aaron Mooy, Bruno Fornaroli and Harry Novillo leading the way in attack, City have a golden opportunity to move to the top of the table with a confidence boosting win.
Head to Head
City enter the clash at Pirtek Stadium in fine fettle, netting a whopping 28 goals during a 10 match period which has yielded six wins and only one defeat A thrilling 3-2 win over Western Sydney in Round 14 is among one of the standout performances, with Harry Novillo’s brace and a strike to Bruno Fornaroli enough to snap the Wanderers 10 match unbeaten run at AAMI Park.
A contest which was shrouded in controversy when referee Jarred Gillett sensationally disallowed a goal from Wanderers striker mark Bridge, the result will undoubtedly be fresh in the minds of both sides and will fuel what is likely to be an entertaining contest.
Such has been City's progress in the last 10 matches, a 3-0 reverse against the Wanderers in Round 6 now seems a distant memory.
Key to City’s success in the second quarter of the season has been the consistency at the selection table, with Head Coach John van’t Schip reporting a near clean bill of health ahead of the clash against the Wanderers. Defender Jack Clisby is set to return after completing his one match suspension, while young striker Wade Dekker also makes his way into the extended match day squad. Connor Chapman andCorey Gameiro remain as the Club’s only long-term absentees.
Wanderers skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley makes a return from suspension in-time to face a high flying City strike force, with Italian striker Federico Piovaccari also making a return for Tony Popovic’s side. See the full Team News.
van’t Schip’s verdict
“It is number two against the number one. For us it’s great to be in that position. It’s what we work for and now it’s up to us again to show we can deliver a good game away from home against the current table leader.” – City Head Coach John van’t Schip. See van't Schip's full reaction.
"Melbourne City will back the way they play and it will be two confident teams going at each other," he said. "When we've reviewed [the 3-2 loss to City], we've seen the many good things that we did in that game. To be 2-0 down and come back and probably should [have] gone on and won that match.
"It's a real positive, but in the end, it probably shows the quality they also have, to have individuals that can turn the match at such a late time." – Wanderers Head Coach Tony Popovic.
Bruno Fornaroli vs Nikolai Topor-Stanley
The Uruguayan front man is simply a delight to watch in his current vein of form, notching up his 13th goal of the season from just 16 matches with a sensational strike in the 3-1 win over Wellington.
Standing in El Tuna’s way is the imposing figure of Wanderers captain Topor-Stanley. The hard-nosed defender will have his work cut out in nullifying the intelligent movement of Fornaroli, but will be determined to put in a performance after missing last week’s match through suspension.
Mitch Nichols has been the Wanderers chief architect in the final third, weighing in with a team high seven goals for the season. The livewire midfielder has caused opposition defenders plenty of headaches with his intelligent passing and movement, linking up well with fellow attackers Dario Vidosic, Romeo Castelen and Mark Bridge in the final third.
- Western Sydney Wanderers have won seven of their 11 matches against Melbourne City FC and drawn on two further occasions (L2)
- After winning the last iteration of this fixture, Melbourne City FC will be looking to gain consecutive wins against the Western Sydney Wanderers FC for the first time.
- Melbourne City FC have lost only once in their last six matches away from home (W3, D2) and have scored 12 goals in their last four such matches.
- Aaron Mooy has created 60 chances for his teammates this season; 22 more than any other Hyundai A-League player and nearly double as many as the highest Western Sydney Wanderers FC player (Mitch Nichols – 32).
How to Follow the Match
The Round 17 clash kicks off at Pirtek Stadium at 7:40pm AEST and is live on Fox Sports 505 and SBS. Radio broadcast on ABC Radio Mobile app & Crocmedia A-League Live.
You can follow all the match action live on Twitter @MelbourneCity, or by using the match hashtag: #WSWvMCY