Western United will look to carry its recent form into a huge Grand Final rematch against table-topping Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Saturday.
Isuzu UTE A-League Men Round 11
Melbourne City vs Western United
Saturday, 7 January
Kick-off: 7:45pm AEDT
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live on Paramount+ and on 10Bold
John Aloisi will welcome Nikolai Topor-Stanley back into contention after the defender missed last week’s draw with Brisbane Roar due to suspension.
Attacking midfielder James Troisi was also absent last weekend but returns to the extended squad, and Jamie Young is set to overtake Ante Covic and move into seventh on the all-time appearances list by goalkeepers in the Isuzu UTE A-League Men.
Western United squad: 1. Jamie YOUNG (gk), 4. Leo LACROIX, 5. Dylan PIERIAS, 6. Tomoki IMAI, 7. Tongo DOUMBIA, 8. Lachlan WALES, 9. Dylan WENZEL-HALLS, 11. Connor PAIN, 14. James TROISI, 17. Ben GARUCCIO, 19. Josh RISDON, 23. Alessandro DIAMANTI (c), 26. Nicolas MILANOVIC, 27. Jacob TRATT, 37. Ryan SCOTT (gk), 38. Noah BOTIC, 42. Rhys BOZINOVSKI, 44. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 88. Neil KILKENNY, 99. Aleksandar PRIJOVIC
Last time out
A header from Aleksandar Prijovic 12 minutes from time secured Western United a 1-1 draw against Brisbane Roar last time out.
The point extended United’s unbeaten run to three matches ahead of a fourth consecutive league match at AAMI Park.
Western United and Melbourne City have had many fantastic battles in the past, none more so than United’s 2-0 triumph in the Grand Final in May.
Overall, City just edges the head-to-head record with six wins compared to United’s four, while the sides have also drawn once.
Key Matchup: Tomoki Imai vs Jamie Maclaren
Western United will come up against City’s star striker Jamie Maclaren in as ruthless form as he’s ever been, with the Socceroo on a record run of nine games in a row where he has found the net.
But Maclaren will come up against a resurgent Tomoki Imai who has returned to the side with great effect in recent weeks, starting each of the last three matches which have coincided with two clean sheets and an unbeaten record.
Imai has picked up where he left off last season alongside Leo Lacroix at the back and will look to stifle Maclaren after picking up an injury in the first-half the last time United faced City.
Player to Watch: Josh Risdon
Josh Risdon has returned from suspension and elevated his already impressive form even further with two big performances in the last two matches.
After scoring the winner to cap off a man of the match display against Melbourne Victory on Boxing Day, Risdon was superb again last week and provided the assist for Prijovic’s equaliser.
United’s No.19 ranks equal third in interceptions and tackles won across the entire league and will look to put in another top performance to help the team over the line.
Words from John Aloisi
On the team’s preparation ahead of a big derby game and a Grand Final rematch
“Everyone’s looking forward to it, obviously it’s a Grand Final rematch but we’re well and truly into the season. We’re confident the way we’ve been going in the last five games, I think probably along with City we’re the two form sides, so it should be a good matchup.”
On defending against Jamie Maclaren
“With Macca, you have to be switched on every second of the game because even when you feel he’s not involved, he’s always on the move.
“He’s always looking to see where he can receive the ball to score goals, he’s a great striker and he’s shown with all the records he’s breaking what he’s capable of doing.”