Liberty A-League preview: Victory v City

Match details

Melbourne Victory v City
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Sunday, December 26, 2021
Kick-off: 5.05pm AEDT


Melbourne Victory is looking to stay perfect in the Liberty A-League, hosting City in another Derby clash on Boxing Day.

Victory has won the first three games of a Liberty A-League campaign for the first time after overcoming Brisbane Roar 3-2 last time out.

Jeff Hopkins’ side meets City in a Melbourne Derby for the second time this month, as part of Sunday’s double-header at AAMI Park.

Victory needed an inspired performance from Lynn Williams to get three points in Brisbane.

The United States international headed in the opening goal and had a hand in strikes from Harriet Withers and Catherine Zimmerman.

Williams scored the winner when coming off the bench in the Derby earlier this month.

Zimmerman’s goal was her third in as many games this season, continuing her excellent start to the campaign.

Victory was without Alex Chidiac for the trip to Brisbane after the midfielder’s recent arrival from overseas meant she was unavailable due to Queensland’s travel rules.

Also set to return is Amy Jackson, who served her suspension after being sent off in the previous Derby.

Victory could also welcome back Melina Ayres, the star forward having missed the first three games of the season.

Ayres is one appearance away from featuring 50 times for Victory in the Liberty A-League, and she would become the 10th player to achieve that feat, also joining current team-mates Jackson, MelindaJ Barbieri and Lia Privitelli.

Victory is aiming to do the double over City for the first time since 2018/19.

Player in focus

Captaining Victory in Kayla Morrison’s injury-enforced absence, Privitelli has stepped up, including starting at left-back against Brisbane. The 27-year-old’s versatility has been an early-season key for Victory.

What they said – Hopkins

on team news…
“We’ll have ‘AJ’ back, we’ll have ‘Chids’ back. Tiff’s trained all week so she’s looking good so she’s back in, it’ll be a bit early for her though. She’s been out for a bit. The other two will obviously come into contention this week. It’s probably a bit early for Melina as well. We’ll more than likely have three of those four back, but it’s been a while for Tiff so what involvement she’ll have on the weekend will be most probably a bit minimal this weekend until we get some good work into her.”

on growth…
“I think we’re making improvements every week. We’ve done a little bit of work with our back four this week. We’re still not sure who will play in the back four or where they’ll play so it makes it a little bit difficult. We’ve done a fair bit of work on organisation and dealing with direct play as well, which I expect them to be quite direct on the weekend, (Hannah) Wilkinson is a real handful up top and she’s quite clever in the way that she makes her runs in behind so we’ve done a bit of work there and the girls have responded really well to it. In terms of where we are, I think most probably we’re taking some big steps forward, I think we look really, really dangerous going forward and I think we’ll cause all defences in this league problems, but I think what we’re looking for is hopefully to just get a few weeks of a nice consistent back four where we can go from a team that plays on the weekend to a team that trains through the week and plays the next weekend and just build a little bit of consistency there. I think that’s what we’re lacking. We’ve had to change the team every game, at least for one or two people, so it’s quite understandable that we’re lacking just a little bit of cohesion and a little bit of consistency. I was very, very happy with the result and a lot of parts of the performance last week and so were the players as well. I think they understand where they are, we again are quite aware that we’ve got better in us. We’re looking forward to the game this weekend, hopefully we can put out a very similar side to last week, maybe add to last week as well with the two players or three players coming back in and get a similar result to the last time we played.”

on another Derby…
“This will be the third time we’ve played City so we’re quite aware of how they play, what their strengths are, how they see us and how they see our strengths and weaknesses and flipping the coin the other way as well they’ve got a good idea about us and what we’re all about as well. I think what’s really important here is that the players go into the game full of confidence, which I think they will do on the back of three wins, also that we don’t get carried away with Christmas and the time of year so we stay focused, we have a good Christmas with our friends, and our partners and our families, but we come into the game really focused on this game. It’s an important game for us, it’s a Derby again, it’s important to us, it’s important to the supporters, to our members, to everyone at the Club, so we can’t look away from that. It’s where we are at the moment in terms of what we’re talking about as well, we don’t want them thinking we’ve just got to forget about Christmas, we need to get the balance, get them happy, get them relaxed through this period, but when it comes to kick-off on Sunday that there’s one thing on our minds and one thing on our minds only and that’s beating City. I think we’ve got a decent balance and I think the players understand that when it comes to kick-off time on Sunday, it’s work time and we’ll be ready to go.”

Last time

Liberty A-League 2021/22 Round 2
City 1-2 Melbourne Victory
Sunday, December 12, 2021
AAMI Park, Melbourne

Victory and City met less than a fortnight ago.

Jackson’s own goal put City ahead before strikes from Zimmerman and Williams saw Victory claim three points.

Jackson was sent off in the closing stages.

Head to head

Round 2, 2021/22: City 1-2 Victory at AAMI Park
Round 10, 2020/21: Victory 2-3 City at Epping Stadium
Round 6, 2020/21: City 0-6 Victory at CB Smith Reserve
Round 12, 2019/20: Victory 0-4 City at Lakeside Stadium
Round 5, 2019/20: City 1-0 Victory at ABD Stadium