City looking to go 10 unbeaten against Wellington

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In the face of challenging travel and workload requirements, Melbourne City have found a way to string together a highly impressive undefeated run

The last time City lost was over a month ago on February 15th when a late Mohamed Toure strike handed Adelaide United a 2-1 win at AAMI Park.

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Since then, City have won six of their last nine matches, including an impressive pair of wins last week away to Brisbane Roar and Macarthur FC.

Now the defending champions come up against a side who understand the challenges of extended periods on the road better than most in Wellington Phoenix.

City’s third consecutive away game is coming off the back of a rare week-long break for Patrick Kisnorbo’s side.

The fact that avoiding defeat on Saturday afternoon will be City’s 10th consecutive game unbeaten, yet their most recent loss came just over a month ago in mid-February, speaks volumes of City’s fixture congestion in recent weeks.

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Prior to the Adelaide defeat in February, City’s previous 10 games were stretched over a period extending to the beginning of December. That run took over two months to complete.

Unsurprisingly, Kisnorbo admitted to some fatigue in his squad following their most recent win over Macarthur.

Compounding City’s challenges has been the temporary absence of their Socceroos – none of Jamie Maclaren, Connor Metcalfe, Mathew Leckie or Marco Tilio were available for City’s trip to Brisbane last week.

Maclaren and Leckie returned for the Macarthur game, adding the crucial quality which ultimately provided decisive in the match.

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Nonetheless, City are undoubtedly still facing difficult circumstances, yet continue to find ways to grind out results.

Florin Berenguer is consistently their best player, regularly putting out performances filled with class and creativity.

Meanwhile the likes of Curtis Good and Andrew Nabbout have been able to string together decent runs of appearances, offering crucial stability across the pitch to a constantly changing City line-up.

Of course, the presence of various youngsters has been refreshing to see. Raphael Borges Rodrigues, Jordan Bos and Taras Gomulka have seen more regular game time in March, showcasing the depth of talent City have at their disposal.

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The match against Wellington means a chance for revenge against the side that knocked City out of the FFA Cup back in January.

Ufuk Talay’s side are coming off the back of a much-needed win against Perth Glory last weekend. Nicholas Pennington’s 97th minute strike secured a crucial three points for Wellington, who currently sit just outside the top six but have plenty of games in hand.

Phoenix have endured plenty of their own struggles in terms of Covid, injury and national team duty, yet find themselves well positioned to make a charge towards finals in the final weeks of the season.

Both sides have shown defensive vulnerabilities throughout the season, suggesting whichever side can hold things together at the back better will likely emerge with a positive result.

Whilst Wellington are comfortable in possession, expect City to control most of the ball as Wellington look to hit on the counter with the likes of Ben Waine and David Ball.

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Every game is critically important for City from here on out as they look to secure a second consecutive premiership.

City currently lead Western United by three points atop the ladder, however, Western have two games in hand.

City must keep winning to ensure they pounce on any slip-up from John Aloisi’s side.

Feature Image Credit: Melbourne City FC

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Oscar Rutherford
Oscar Rutherford
Sports tragic studying Law/Arts at Monash University. Second-best paid Oscar working in football who has been to China.

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