Arnie explains bug weakened Sydney FC before Central Coast clash

Sydney FC's surprisingly sluggish display against Central Coast Mariners was explained by coach Graham Arnold after their 1-1 draw on Saturday night. 

Arnold, coaching in his 200th A-League game, said a gastro bug weakened a number of his key players in the lead up to Saturday night's clash and their previous draw with Adelaide United. 

The ladder-leading Sky Blues looked a shadow of their usual robust selves against Arnold's former club the Mariners, particularly in the first half, as they struggled to impose themselves on the game.  

The Sky Blues were a goal down at the break but battled back against an energetic Mariners outfit to draw 1-1. 

MATCH CENTRE Re-live the game with stats, heat maps and line-ups in the match centre here

Arnold told the media after the game he was proud of the effort given the illness to so many of his players. 

"The boys are tired tonight after that effort and they need to recover. We worked extremely hard. The effort was fantastic. 

"It's not an excuse please, but we had a bug go through the team, gastro.

"We had five players tonight that were ill. 

"We've had that now for the last 10 days to two weeks. Those players have been very crook with gastro. I've given them two days off now to get healthy and stay away from each other because we pass it on to each other. 

"Even though we make sure we're very careful with it.

"It's hit us quite hard." 

Arnold revealed Brandon O'Neill, Milos Ninkovic, Alex Brosque and Luke Wilkshire had the bug on Saturday night, while Michael Zullo, Josh Brillante and Jordy Buijs have only just recovered from it. 

Sydney FC will hope their squad rids itself of the bug ahead of their massive Australia Day clash with Melbourne Victory in the next round.