If Western Sydney are to end Melbourne City’s blistering run of A-League form, they’ll have to get past Curtis Good first.
While Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout have been electrifying up front in City’s five-game winning streak, unflappable centre-back Good has been at the heart of a defence that’s secured four consecutive clean sheets.
“Curtis has done great so far – he still needs to improve a lot, don’t get me wrong,” City coach Patrick Kisnorbo said.
“The main thing is that he trains hard every week, he’s keeping fit and whoever comes in that partners him at centre-back he has a great relationship with and good connection with.
“Left-footed centre-halves are hard to find and when you do, they’re very important.
“We have Curtis in that position and it’s taken him a couple of years to build up to where he is – remember, he came back from a low base (after multiple hip flexor injuries) when he came back from the UK.
“So this has been a work in progress and it’s good to see he’s really recovered from his time in England and (he’s) really improving as a footballer.”
Western Sydney’s plethora of attacking options, headlined by Mitch Duke, have scored seven goals in their past two games, will give Good, and whomever partners him at centre-back, plenty to think about at AAMI Park on Friday night.
Nuno Reis (groin) made an early exit from the 2-0 win over Central Coast but has trained and been named in City’s squad, though Rostyn Griffiths will be again ready to step up if the Portuguese defender fails to prove his fitness.
Currently fourth on 21 points, City can leapfrog the Wanderers and Adelaide (22 points apiece) into second on the table and close the gap on the ladder-leading Mariners to one, with a game in hand.
City beat the Wanderers 2-0 at Bankwest Stadium on March 2 and coach Carl Robinson emphasised the importance of staying switched on defensively.
“We know that we are able to cause them problems,” he said.
“But we also know that we need to keep the back door shut otherwise one mistake – which has happened in the first game – you get punished.”
STATS THAT MATTER
* Jamie Maclaren has been directly involved in 15 goals this season – scoring 11 and assisting four
* Western Sydney have won their last three games, scoring eight goals
* Melbourne City have won five games on the bounce and kept four consecutive clean sheets