Free-scoring Sydney FC could go to the top of the Hyundai A-League season for the first time in five years if they beat Melbourne City FC on Friday night - and coach Graham Arnold has issued a rallying call to the Sky Blue faithful.
The Sky Blues are currently second, one point behind Wellington but would leapfrog Phoenix for 48 hours at least should they overcome City at Allianz Stadium in #EraseRacism Round 22.
It will be the first time since the club won the Premiership on the final weekend of the 2009’10’season against Melbourne Victory that Sydney FC would be outright first on the ladder.
If they can avoid defeat they will make it a club record 10 games unbeaten while the side is also just two goals away from breaking their record for goals scored in a season.
“It’s not something were looking at to be top place. It’s always a great achievement but we’re looking at just reaching our goals,” Arnold told reporters on Wednesday.
“We reset our goals last week the players know what the goals are for the rest of the season and if we can achieve that hopefully we’ll be up there or thereabouts.
“We’re just focusing on Melbourne City on Friday night and putting on another entertaining, good performance in front of our home crowd.
“We’re hoping for a big crowd on Friday night to come and support us. It’s our second last home game at Allianz [Stadium] this year, we’ve played some great football, entertaining and scoring a lot of goals so hopefully it’s a good crowd.”
The Sky Blues are the hottest team in the competition right now leaving many to believe ‘Arnie’s Army’ is favourites for the title.
Asked if their current form has them dreaming of silverware, Arnold said: “Our goal was to win the title back in July when we started….nothing changes.
“Newcastle and [Central Coast] Mariners’ goal at the start of the year was to win the league as well. It’s what we all set out for.
“There’s a lot of things that happen long the way and there will be a lot of twists and turns that will happen between now and the end of the season.
“The top five is in very close bunch and have to play each other but teams like the Jets, Mariners and Wanderers have a lot of pride and will be looking to get more wins on the board as well. All we can do though is focus on ourselves.”
While the Sky Blues have scored an impressive 25 goals in the last seven matches, they’ve also leaked 14 at the other end which Arnold concedes they must fix.
They have also almost relinquished three-goal leads against the Wanderers and Roar in recent weeks.
“One thing I spoke to the boys about after the game is that top teams keep their foot on the pedal and don’t put the handbrake on,” he said.
“But that’s the confidence in the team at the moment that they feel they have another gear when they need it.
“It’s what we showed against Brisbane, they scored the first goal and we stepped up the gear, when it got back to 4-3 we stepped up another gear.
“That’s the belief that’s in the squad at the moment.”
Following the City match, the Sky Blues will lose red-hot striker Marc Janko and midfielder Terry Antonis to international duty for the following week’s potential title-decider away to Wellington.
Critical of not stopping the Hyundai A-League for international dates in the past, Arnold seems to have softened his stance.
“It’s the same for every team,” the Sky Blues boss said.
“We’re losing a couple of players, Wellington are losing more than us, Melbourne victory are losing more than us.
“I’ll let those other coaches have their own opinion for once."
Arnold said he is wary of the inconsistent City, who have often saved their best performances for matches against the top side in the league.