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Preview: Blues vs. Bombers

Blues News | Round 3 Emily Angwin brings you all the news from Ikon Park as the Blues prepare for Sunday's clash against Essendon.


The unbeaten Bombers have made a strong start to this season, determined to put a horrible 2016 behind them. But they were not as impressive last Saturday night as they were in the opening round, finally overcoming the plucky Lions at the Gabba. Carlton is showing signs of improvement, but skill errors and poor decisions, notably by experienced senior players, proved costly in last Sunday's gallant loss to the Demons. The Blues have looked good in patches and will be looking for more consistency to stay in the game for longer periods. While Carlton tightened its defence last week, scoring continues to be a problem and looms as a big factor again on Sunday. On the other hand, Essendon has multiple avenues to goal, led by dangerous small forward Orazio Fantasia and spearhead Joe Daniher.

WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Sunday, April 9, 3.20pm AEST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide


R23, 2016, Essendon 15.13 (103) d Carlton 10.19 (79) at the MCG
R6, 2016, Carlton 10.12 (72) d Essendon 8.9 (57) at the MCG
R3, 2015, Essendon 16.9 (105) d Carlton 11.18 (84) at the MCG
R23, 2014, Carlton 14.6 (90) drew with Essendon 13.12 (90) at the MCG
R3, 2014, Essendon 21.12 (138) d Carlton 8.9 (57) at the MCG


1. Joe Daniher kicked five goals and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti four in the Bombers' win over the Blues in round 23 last season. Zach Merrett starred with 34 disposals, five inside 50s and six clearances. Despite having more inside 50s (61-45), Carlton trailed throughout the game.

2. Carlton has been impressive in centre clearances in the first two games, ranked equal fifth, averaging 17 a game. The Bombers have struggled in this category, ranked 16th at 13 a game.

3. The Bombers are ranked sixth for goals kicked in 2017 with 34. They have booted 100 points in both games – the previous time they kicked the century in consecutive matches was rounds 17-18, 2014.

4. The clubs have played 65 times at the MCG. Essendon holds the advantage, winning 36 games to 25, and there have been four draws.

5. Carlton is struggling to score this season. After two games the Blues are equal 15th for goals kicked with 11.5 a game. Last year they averaged 10.1 a match.

6. Young Essendon midfielder Zach Merrett has continued his rise in the Schick AFL Player Ratings, up from 32nd overall at the start of the season to 27th with 479 points after collecting 32 disposals against the Brisbane Lions last Saturday night. Carlton's leading player is Patrick Cripps (41st overall) with 452.7 points.

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … David Zaharakis

The midfielder has made a solid start to this season after enduring a tough 2016 when he shouldered extra responsibility in the absence of many experienced players. Zaharakis gathered 20 disposals and kicked two crucial goals in the Bombers' victory over the Lions last week and will be keen to do well in his 150th game.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs