Matchday preview: Melbourne City v Wellington Phoenix

Melbourne City are guaranteed a finals berth but they'll be wary of a potential backlash from Wellington Phoenix, who will be hurting after successive home defeats and are eyeing top spot.

Sunday, 12 April 2015
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off:  5:00 PM (Local) (5:00 PM AEST)

Melbourne City FC squad:  1.Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 4.Connor CHAPMAN, 5.Erik PAARTALU, 6.Aaron MOOY, 7.Iain RAMSAY, 8.Massimo MURDOCCA, 9.Harry NOVILLO, 10.Robert KOREN, 13.Jonatan GERMANO, 15.David WILLIAMS, 16.Josh KENNEDY, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 18.Paulo RETRE, 20.Tando VELAPHI (GK), 22.Jack CLISBY, 23.Mate DUGANDZIC, 24.Patrick KISNORBO, 27.Kew JALIENS
**two to be omitted**

Ins:  4.Connor CHAPMAN (returns from suspension), 17.Jason HOFFMAN (promoted)

Outs:  Nil
Unavailable: 3.Robbie WIELAERT (ankle – 2 weeks), 11.Damien DUFF (ankle/calf – indefinite), 14.James BROWN (foot – 6 weeks), 19.Ben GARUCCIO (ankle – 7 weeks), 25.Jacob MELLING (knee – 1 week)

Wellington Phoenix squad:  1.Glen MOSS (GK), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Michael BOXALL, 7.Kenny CUNNINGHAM, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9.Nathan BURNS, 10.Michael MCGLINCHEY, 11.Kwabena APPIAH, 13.Albert RIERA, 15.Jason HICKS, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Vince LIA, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c)

*one to be omitted*

Ins:  13.Albert RIERA (returns from suspension), 17.Vince LIA (returns from injury)
Outs:  3.Joel GRIFFITHS (knee – indefinite)
Unavailable:  18.Ben SIGMUND (quad strain – 1 week)

Broadcast details
TV Broadcast:  Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5.00pm (AEST) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast:  Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app.

Hashtag  #MCYvWEL

Referee:  Peter Green
Assistant Referee 1:  George Lakrindis
Assistant Referee 2:  Mathew Cheeseman
Fourth Official:  Lucien Laverdure

Wellington Phoenix can go top of the A-League table, while Melbourne City's finals place is secure after Perth Glory's punishment for salary cap breaches.

The Phoenix appear to have both more to play for and more motivation. The Phoenix are just two points behind Melbourne Victory and continue to harbour realistic ambitions of Premier's Plate glory.

As for motivation, Ernie Merrick's men suffered successive 3-0 losses at home to Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory in their last two matches.

The Nix need to mount a response if they are to get their push for silverware back on track. What better place than AAMI Park on Sunday evening?

- Melbourne City have won just one of their last 10 A-League games against Wellington Phoenix (L5 D4).

- Three of the last four A-League games between these two sides in Melbourne have ended in a draw.

- Nathan Burns’ only previous A-League hat-trick came against Melbourne City in Wellington’s 5-1 victory last November.

- Melbourne City have kept a clean sheet in three of their last four A-League games, conceding just one goal in the other match during this run.

- Wellington have lost their last two A-League games 3-0. They haven’t lost three games in a row without scoring since January 2008.

- Phoenix have scored four own goals in the A-League this season; more than any other side.

- Aaron Mooy has created a league-high 70 goal-scoring chances in the A-League this season.

City's mid-season recruit Harry Novillo, signed as Damien Duff's injury replacement player, has been threatening to do something special during his energetic early performances.

Having opened his account with a goal in the 4-0 win over the Newcastle Jets last month, he delivered big time away to Western Sydney Wanderers last Friday night, netting the equaliser with a special solo goal that earned the visitors a share of the spoils.

Expect the French-born Martinique international to be at the centre of things again at AAMI Park, where Josh Kennedy will lead the line, leaving room for one of David Williams or Mate Dugandzic to join them in attack.

The visiting Phoenix will be without veteran striker Joel Griffiths after he suffered a serious knee injury in the loss to Victory last weekend.

That leaves Socceroo Nathan Burns and Fijian flyer Roy Krishna to try and do the damage. Kwabena Appiah is another option at Merrick's disposal, but the Nix are now looking a little thin up front.

Perhaps Kenny Cunningham, who impressed largely in a midfield role during his first season at the club and has been used only sparingly this term, will be called upon to join the attack during the run-in.

Joel Griffiths had initially been optimistic the knee injury that saw him stretchered off on Sunday was merely a scare, tweeting to say he would be in the squad for the City clash. But it was confirmed on Thursday that the veteran's season is over and he now faces a long road back to full fitness.

FORM LINES (last five games)
Melbourne City: DWWWL
City drew 1-1 away to the Wanderers last time out. Before that they'd managed three successive wins, beating Brisbane 1-0 at home, Sydney 1-0 away and the Jets 4-0 at home. Their most recent loss was a 3-2 defeat at Western Sydney on March 11.

Wellington Phoenix: LLWWW

Wellington surely didn't see those two heavy 3-0 home defeats to Victory and Sydney coming. Before that they'd been the competition's form team, notching four consecutive wins to top the table.

Nathan Burns has embarked on 169 dribbles this season in the A-League; 39 more than any other player in the competition.

Melbourne City 1-2 Wellington Phoenix

This is a tough one to call, but the Phoenix have plenty to play for and should edge the encounter.