Match Preview: Melbourne City v Western Sydney Wanderers

The Wanderers face two big games in the space of five days, with the first seeing them travel to face Melbourne City on Tuesday night.

Western Sydney will be looking to end a stuttering run of form and reassert their place in the top six, as well as reigniting their challenge for a spot in the top four and a home final.

In their last match against Western United, the Wanderers took the lead midway through the second half thanks to a brilliant long-range effort from Nicolas Milanovic, but United then scored three goals in quick succession to secure a surprise 3-1 win at CommBank Stadium.

It was a tough result for the Red and Black, as they felt they were having the better of the game until Western United scored their equaliser, but they must move on quickly as they face last season’s minor premiers.

Despite being one of the premier teams in the A-League Men’s competition in recent years, it has been a testing season for Melbourne City, as they were forced to sack coach Rado Vidosic after just two games, and they currently sit outside the top six with a goal difference of -3.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 12: Aidan Simmons of the Wanderers competes with Steven Ugarkovic of Melbourne City during the A-League Men round 12 match between Melbourne City and Western Sydney Wanderers at CommBank Stadium, on January 12, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Before last weekend, they were on a run of two draws and three losses in their last five matches, but they secured a vital 1-0 victory over high-flying Wellington Phoenix, with Samuel Souprayen scoring his first goal for the club in the 58th minute.

The win means City climbed to seventh on the table, and sit two points behind the Wanderers, though the Wanderers also have a stronger goal difference.

Melbourne’s wider form is still poor, with just two wins in their last nine matches, scoring just six goals in the process despite possessing attacking talents such as Jamie Maclaren, Matthew Leckie and the returning Marco Tilio.

It has been a season of transition for City under interim manager Aurelio Vidmar, but they still remain a dangerous prospect, especially at home, where the Wanderers last won against City in the 2018 FFA Cup.

The Wanderers will look for their own attacking stars to shine, with the in-form Milanovic – three goals in his last three games – Lachie Brook and the returning Brandon Borrello all capable of being game changers for the Red and Black.

Their injury and suspension issues are also easing, as star striker Marcus Antonsson made an early return from an ankle injury in Friday’s match.

Goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas is also nearing a return from injury, with the gloveman being named on the bench in the last match, and he will hope to be back in the starting side in the near future.

The Wanderers will also take confidence from their earlier match against Melbourne City during Unite Round, when they put in a complete and controlled performance in a 1-0 win at CommBank Stadium.

Dylan Pierias scored the only goal of the match during the first half, and it saw the Wanderers draw level in the head-to-head record between the sides, as each have 13 wins.

In the early days of the fixture, the Wanderers were dominant before Melbourne City took relative control.

With just six games remaining after this match, the Wanderers would love not only to pull ahead in that regard, but to also build a crucial buffer between them and their opponents in the race to the finals.