Wellington looking to continue winning ways against Melbourne City

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Fresh of their 3-0 win against Brisbane Roar on Wednesday evening, Wellington Phoenix will be looking to make it three wins in a row when they come up against Melbourne City on Saturday at Pointsbet Stadium.

After two disappointing losses to kick off March, Wellington have appeared to be a team on a mission as of late, with a last-second winner against Perth and their 3-0 victory against Brisbane propelling them to fourth.

With at least two games in hand against all of the teams currently sitting higher than them on the ladder, Saturday’s match could very well be a crucial one for Wellington in sealing a finals birth.

They do, however, come up against a side looking to extend their lead at the top in Melbourne City, who after a shaky start to the season, have positioned themselves as one of the form teams in the competition.

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Wellington’s recent form:

After a few tough losses in early March, including heartbreaking defeats to both the Newcastle Jets and Brisbane, Wellington have looked a different side over the last few matches.

Scoring five and conceding just once, the team have picked up all six of the available points heading into the back end of the season.

Whilst they may not have dominated their match against Brisbane, ultimately conceding 36 shots over the 90 minutes, the win was arguably one of their most important of the season.

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Despite the tough match, the side stuck together, getting the result against the odds. Their expected goals of under two paled in comparison to the Roar’s three-and-a-half, however, their ability to win in less-than-ideal conditions is something that the best sides do.

Expect a team on Saturday ready to ride the wave of momentum, giving it their best against arguably the league’s most in form team.

The Opposition:

The Phoenix come up against a Melbourne City side that have found their form of last season, having not lost since conceding an 85th minute winner against Adelaide on February 15.

The task of stopping City’s scintillating attack will be at the top of coach Ufuk Talay’s mind, with Melbourne scoring 12 more goals than any other team so far this season.

The diversity of their attack will also be a serious threat, with the Victorians having 10 different players score for them so far this season.

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This will be the first time that the two sides meet in the league this year, with their remaining other fixture being City’s last of the regular season.

This doesn’t mean that the two sides haven’t faced recently, with Wellington coming out on top in their FFA Cup quarter-final 4-3 on penalties.

Whilst it may not have been Melbourne’s best side, they still had numerous stars playing and Wellington can take great confidence heading into this fixture that they can hold out City’s dominant attack.

The stats behind the fixture: 

As always you can tell a lot about a game by looking at statistics, and this match is no different.

An interesting stat appears when looking at the home-and-away tables this season, with the results proving how mouth-watering this match-up is.

Melbourne have picked up the most points away from home this season, losing just once.

To go with their six away wins, they are also the only side to have a positive away differential, scoring eight more times than they have conceded.

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Whilst this may be a concern for Wellington fans, you need not worry, as the Phoenix actually have the best record in the league when looking at matches played at home.

Despite not having played a single match at their true home in New Zealand this season, the Phoenix have still been a force when placed first on the team sheet, securing 23 of a possible 30 points.

They too have only lost once when playing at home, with this being a battle of first place (of sort).

Key Match Up:

Melbourne’s front three versus Oliver Sail

When looking at the best front threes in A-League Men history, it is hard to look past Melbourne City’s current strike force.

The trio have scored 23 goals this season and will be looking to add to that tally this Saturday, however, standing in their way is the in-form Oli Sail.

His performance against Brisbane on Wednesday was nothing short of superhuman, with the goalkeeper making 11 saves and keeping a cleansheet despite the Roar having an expected goals rating of just under three-and-a-half.

It was not just a one off either, with many fans around the league questioning whether he is in fact the best shot-stopper in the competition, with him certainly proving he deserves to be mentioned among the best.

If the New Zealand side want to grab all three points this weekend it will likely be on the back of another elite performance by their captain, who is continuing to prove just how good he is.

Final Notes:

Whilst Wellington are currently sitting pretty in fourth place with games in hand, the tight nature of this year’s competition means that no team is safe if a couple of fixtures don’t go their way.

For this reason, Wellington will not want to take their foot off the pedal this weekend, looking to hopefully solidify their spot in the finals over the coming weeks after just missing out last season by one point.

Melbourne City will likely prove to be stiff competition, coming into the match with momentum on their side.

However, if the Phoenix play up to their potential, and Sail continues to lead from the back, Wellington fans can be optimistic about collecting points on Saturday.

Feature Image Credit: Speed Media/Icon Sportswire

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William Makepeace
William Makepeace
Current Intern covering Canberra United. Sports Media student at University of Canberra who lives and breathes Football

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