Western United will play host to Melbourne City on Saturday in its first home match in well over a month.
John Aloisi’s men were back in action last week but fell to defeat against Wellington Phoenix, and they will be out to continue the Club’s good form against Melbourne City of late.
The top end of the Isuzu UTE A-League table is already proving to be tight trough the first quarter of the season, and there will be several key matchups at AAMI Park in this battle of second versus fourth in the league.
Aleksandar Prijovic vs Nuno Reis
Making his second start of the season in that defeat in Wollongong last Friday, Aleksandar Prijovic continued his growth into the Western United team and showed plenty of glimpses of his quality.
The Serbian international will face a stern test in the Melbourne City backline, with Nuno Reis set to return from suspension and take his place at centre-back.
Reis played 20 times in his debut season with City in 2020/21, which included both finals as Patrick Kisnorbo’s side lifted its first A-League Men Championship.
Prijovic will look to impose his strength on the Portuguese defender and add to his goal tally after his maiden strike against Melbourne Victory on Boxing Day.
Western United defence vs Melbourne City attack
Western United had the best defence until the A-League Men through the first five matches, but five goals conceded in the last two matches has stripped the side of that title.
Head Coach John Aloisi admitted that the goals conceded in the Wellington match were frustrating ones from a defensive point of view, and the entire back four in front of Jamie Young will be out to make amends with a better defensive display.
In Melbourne City, United will face an attack heavily depleted by international absences. Mathew Leckie, Marco Tilio and top scorer Jamie Maclaren have all been called up to the Socceroos squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers and will miss Saturday night’s encounter.
United’s back four will be slightly changed, too, with Nikolai Topor-Stanley likely to come in for his 350th A-League Men match with Tomoki Imai suspended.
Star centre-half Leo Lacroix will look to lead United’s backline alongside Topor-Stanley, hoping for a similar performance to his commanding display against Melbourne City last time out.
John Aloisi vs Patrick Kisnorbo
The battle will extend to the touchline with a heavyweight meeting of A-League Men coaches as Aloisi and Kisnorbo look to outsmart each other and set their respective teams on to victory.
Aloisi has enjoyed a positive start to life at Western United with four wins early on in the campaign, but two straight losses pre and post COVID-19 postponements have left a hunger to get back on the winners list.
The Socceroos legend, who both played and coached for Melbourne Heart, will be seeking more attacking verve from his players than what they showed in Wollongong while hoping for a return of the resolute defence.
Kisnorbo earned his stripes by guiding City to the Premiership and Championship double last season but with three wins in eight games so far, he too will be looking for a strong showing.
Former international teammates and friendly foes, Aloisi versus Kisnorbo will one of many key matchups in this huge A-League Men fixture on Saturday night.