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A-League: Can anyone stop Melbourne City?

Monday's 3-1 win at Wellington Phoenix restored Melbourne City's four-point lead at the top of the A-League ladder and they look well set for a third-straight Premiership.

Whatsmore, they have the competition's form striker Jamie Maclaren, who netted twice in the Kiwi capital to become the first player in A-League history to score in nine consecutive matches.

After losing last season's Grand Final to Western United, the current signs point to them putting that heartache behind them.

Having already beaten them this season, City have a chance to get further revenge on United when the pair meet on Saturday at AAMI Park.

A home win in the Full Time Result market is 3/5, with the draw 3/1 and the visitors 9/2.

Kisnorbo departure has not halted momentum

The 3-1 victory against the 'Nix made it two in a row for City after beating Central Coast Mariners 1-0 on 27th December.

Although they lost their first match after the World Cup 2-1 at Sydney FC, they still played well, recording 13 shots at goal and enjoying 56 per cent of the possession.

Some post-tournament rust could, perhaps, be blamed for the defeat, as could the departure of head coach Patrick Kisnorbo.

The 41-year-old moved to France's Ligue 1 and fellow City Football Group club Troyes in November, in the process becoming the first Australian coach of a men's team in the so-called 'Big Five' leagues. 

Technical director and City Women's coach Rado Vidosic has been placed in temporary charge and seems to be following the same principles as his predecessor, playing the attacking brand of possession-based football demanded by the team's owners. 

So far this season, they have scored 19 goals in nine matches, contributing to a 7-1-1 record and elevating them to four points clear of Western Sydney Wanderers in the standings. 

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Maclaren the man in attack 

Key to their success has been that man Maclaren, who looks like he cannot stop scoring. 

The 29-year-old has won the A-League Golden Boot four times, including the last three seasons and is on course to break all sorts of records. 

After becoming the first player to score in nine consecutive A-League games with his brace in Wellington, he will look to extend his record to 10 matches against Western United on Saturday. 

His current tally of 12 goals places him six clear of the second-highest scorer in the league, Central Coast's Jason Cummings. However, there is more at stake for the former Perth Glory man. 

Maclaren will expect to surpass last season's total of 15 goals and going beyond that could see him make history. He currently has 132 career A-League goals to his name, 10 short of former Brisbane Roar, Melbourne Victory and Western United forward Besart Berisha's all-time record of 142. 

After last season's Grand Final heartache, Maclaren and his side have extra motivation to succeed but the forward was keen to stay in the moment after winning in Wellington. 

Rather than chasing personal glory, he insisted that his and the team's success has been built on their collective quality rather than individual exploits, an attitude that should serve them well going forward. 

Another shot at revenge against Western United 

Last season's Grand Final defeat to United hurt Kisnorbo and co and will go down as one of the biggest shocks in Men's A-League history. 

John Aloisi's side have perhaps felt the pressure of being the champions this season, currently sitting 10th on the ladder. However, they have shown signs of improvement, with them unbeaten in three following Friday's 1-1 with Brisbane Roar. 

Their change of momentum has coincided with last year's Joe Marston Medallist winner Aleksandar Prijovic's return to fitness following a toe injury. 

The 32-year-old has scored three times in his five appearances this season and also grabbed his team's second in that Grand Final victory. 

However, for all their recent progress, the champions are the big underdogs going into Saturday's game and lost 2-1 when the pair met back in August. Maclaren was on target that day and a repeat 2-1 in City's favour is 15/2 in the Correct Score market.

Another win on Saturday would only add to the feeling that Hearts are the team to beat in their bid for a second Championship in three years. 

Having come through Kisnorbo's departure relatively unscathed, City will be confident they can right the wrongs of last term.

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