Melbourne City look to add to Sydney FC misery – and Tim Cahill the man to inflict the damage

14/08/2019 Posted by admin

Tim Cahill of Melbourne City is set for a key role against Sydney FC. Photo: Robert CianfloneBig games demand big performances from big players.
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In the n game there is no bigger name than Tim Cahill.

And as far as the A-League goes, there is no bigger match this weekend than the clash at AAMI Park on Friday night when Melbourne City hosts Sydney FC.

So surely Cahill, who only made a cameo appearance in the dying stages of City’s impressive 5-1 win in Wellington last weekend, will come in from the relative wilderness and play a role from the start of this game.

City coach Michael Valkanis was trying to keep the guessing game going on Thursday when he faced the media when he suggested that he hadn’t quite made his mind up as to whether Cahill would start or not.

“It’s a big game, and Timmy is a big game player, he is involved, I am sure he will play his part,” the coach said.

So he’s now only an impact player, age and condition having taken its toll on the now 37-year-old? Is that why he no longer starts every match? Or has Anthony Caceres, who has started the last two matches, scoring in Wellington, done enough to keep the talismanic Socceroo on the bench for another game.

Valkanis was quick to scotch that suggestion. “He’s not only used as an impact player – tomorrow he could be used from the start, ” the coach said, a point supported by the fact that most of Cahill’s goals for City this season have come in the first hour of games, and the majority in the first half of matches in which he has been in the starting eleven.

Key defender Michael Jakobsen is one man definitely missing for another week, the centre back still not having recovered from the calf injury that has kept him out of recent games.

But defender Ivan Franjic, who like Jakobsen missed the draw with Brisbane and the win over Wellington, is back from injury and pushing for a place in the starting line-up.

Much will depend on the structure that Valkanis wants to use against the team that lost its air of invincibility in acrimonious circumstances in last weekend’s Sydney derby when the Sky Blues went down to local rivals Western Sydney Wanderers. It was Sydney’s first loss of the season in the A-League.

“There are two different options and we are training for both formations. Franjic is back but we have to be careful with Jakobsen, knowing we are in the final straight. We are hoping that we will get him back in the next few weeks.”

Valkanis was delighted with the way City got back to scoring form in New Zealand and said that performance, allied to the effort shown by a suspension depleted squad in the draw with Brisbane, had impressed on all players at the club that no one’s position could be taken for granted.

“The players know this, that’s why we have a big squad, we go by performance and training and what the game will require, we picked the team that will be best for the match we are playing.”

Opposition doesn’t come much tougher than Sydney, and Valkanis, for one, is not expecting there to be any psychological comedown after Graham Arnold’s team sustained its first loss of the season.

“They are not vulnerable. I really don’t think so. Their team is on top, they are the best in at the moment.

“They have many good players capable of winning games, Alex Brosque has had a fantastic season, so has Rhyan Grant, so has Michael Zullo, adding extra capabilities going forward.

“They are very well organised, it’s a typical Graham Arnold organisation.

“I am not going to go by what happened last week, they will be organised and structured. Arnold’s teams don’t change at all, they do the simple things very well, their defensive organisation is very good, where they press you, where they attack.”

Before the Wanderers win last weekend City was the only team who had beaten Sydney, defeating them 1-0 in the Cup Final in November when Cahill, naturally, headed home the only goal of the game.

Neither that match, nor the subsequent 1-1 draw in Sydney in the next A-League match, has any bearing on Friday’s fixtures, the City boss insists.

“We can’t dwell in the past winning the Cup Final, it was a long time ago, it was great winning the first piece of silverware for the club, but that’s gone.”

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