Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has ensured he will be even less popular at Saturday night’s Sydney derby, suggesting Western Sydney Wanderers FC home derbies shouldn’t be played at Wanderland.
In a comment that is sure to rile their fierce neighbours, Arnold declared the Wanderers’ Parramatta base was not at all intimidating.
A sell-out crowd of around 20,000 is set to cram into ‘Wanderland’ on Saturday.
The Sky Blues boss, who describes the Wanderers’ home ground as a “beautiful little football stadium” believes the match would be better suited at a venue with a bigger capacity.
Football Federation Australia are open to the prospect of moving one derby match a season to the bigger ANZ Stadium, which has a capacity of over 83,000.
But Arnold threw a hand-grenade at the Wanderers by suggesting only their home matches should be moved to allow more fans in.
"I don't think derbies should be taken away from here [Allianz Stadium]. We get 44,000, maybe they should think about taking the derby away from Parramatta because it only fits 18,000,” Arnold told reporters on Thursday.
“It's more money in the bank for them if they move one of their derbies to ANZ but for us here 44,000 packed I don’t think we need to move one of ours.
"….The Wanderers have had two crowds of 14,000 and this game will be the first that is a sell-out of 18,000 and we’re looking forward to the occasion.
"They are passionate and great supporters and they’ve brought a lot to the A-League but for me it's not an intimidating place to go. It's a beautiful little football stadium and it’s a great place to play at.”
Those comments are sure to get Arnold a hot reception on Saturday night but he is also expect things to be just as fiery on the pitch as well with the hosts desperate for a win.
The Sky Blues boss has been impressed with the Wanderers’ form in recent weeks and believes their new signings like Vitor Saba, Romeo Castelen and Nikita Rukavytsya are starting to settle.
One of Sydney’s new boys, marquee man Marc Janko, has settled quickly with his brace last weekend ensuring a 2-1 win over Melbourne City.
“He’s a great guy and you can see his motivation and desire for the club to miss the Brazil friendly game to come back and play for Sydney (last weekend),” Arnold said of Janko.
“Sydney means a lot to him, he’s on a one-year contract and he wants an extension so he’s motivated.
“There can be an element of risk (with international players) if you don’t do your due diligence. We knew what Marc was about and we did a lot of homework on him not only as a player but as a person.
“We knew his qualities and if he’s still a current international for Austria he definitely has the quality. For me it was never a risk and we expect him to get even better towards the end of the season.”
Sydney will be without midfielder Milos Dimitrijevic through suspension, with Arnold revealing Ali Abbas, Peter Triantis and Rhyan Grant were the candidates to replace him in the middle of the park.