W-League mid-season report card: Melbourne City

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It’s the time of year when clubs look towards the home stretch of the season and The Football Sack critiques each club’s progress so far.

Semester summary: The first half of the W-League season has seen City return to their winning ways of past campaigns with the team racking up four wins and one draw through their first five games to sit undefeated at the top of the ladder.

This has included victories against last years champions Sydney FC, top-four contender Canberra United and crosstown rival Melbourne Victory.

They’ve also managed to do this while only playing one game in Melbourne, with this highly talented squad proving they can take the show on the road and knock over quality opposition.

As they continue to pile up the wins, their chemistry and confidence will only grow, propelling them towards greater heights in the second half of the season.

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Areas of excellence: The highlight for City this season has been their ability to pull off multiple late-game wins. In round two Emily van Egmond kicked the match-winning goal against Canberra in the 94th minute, while in round five Yukari Kinga scored in the 89thminute to secure the points against Melbourne Victory.

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Throw in the 76th minute goal by Milica Mijatovic to hand City the lead against Sydney in round four and City have shown a pattern of preforming come crunch time – a trait that will hold them in good stead at the business end of the season.

Furthermore, all four of their wins have been by one-goal margins this year and have required strong defensive stands late in matches to secure the points. Their defensive resilience to hold firm week after week is a credit to their structure and commitment to detail.

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Areas in need of improvement: When you sit at the top of the table, it’s hard to nit-pick areas to improve but if not for a few clutch moments late in games City’s record could be vastly different.

In attack, City have scored seven goals this season, which tied with the Western Sydney (who have played one less game) is the fewest of the top five teams.

If their attack can start to fire on all cylinders, they will be less reliant on late-game brilliance and will improve their chances of going all the way.

Top student: Van Egmond has been a dynamic and lethal addition to this loaded squad and has scored goals in three of four matches this season.

Her exquisite passing skills have been on display all season, with the Matildas’ international slicing up defences and creating goal-scoring opportunities for her teammates.

As she continues to settle into the City structure her output will only increase. The combination she forms with fellow strikers Kyah Simon and Claire Emslie will create one of the most intimidating attacking groups in the competition if they can all fire.

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Needs improvement: Emslie was a marquee offseason signing for City but she has not been able to get going thus far. A proven goal scorer throughout her career, Emslie has not scored for City in the four games she has played.

The Scottish international has created chances in multiple games and has looked threatening at times, however, her inability to finish has let her down.

Emslie should be cut some slack, as she did arrive in Melbourne right before the season started, and could turn into a wildcard in the second half of the season, as she finds her feet in the team.

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Grade: A

Outlook: Despite not having a blowout victory this season, their ability to win four straight games, three of which were outside of Melbourne, suggests this team is on track towards another championship run.

Their defensive unit of Steph Cately, Emma Checker, Ellie Carpenter and Chelsea Blissett has looked impenetrable at times this season, while Lydia Williams is having another fantastic season protecting the goals. Overall as a collective, they have only conceded three goals.

Upfront the attack has managed to conjure miraculous goals to snatch victories at the death of matches, lifting City to the top of the ladder.

City are on track towards another final series and are in the frame to host the grand final. A fourth title in five seasons beckons for this star-studded team.

Feature Image Credit: Melbourne City

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Michael Patane
Student at Monash University and lover of all things football covering Melbourne City in 2019/20.