Graham Arnold has lit the fuse ahead of Saturday night’s Hyundai A-League derby, declaring Sydney FC is the bigger club and Western Sydney Wanderers are striving to be like the Sky Blues.
Arnold appeared relaxed and jovial when he spoke to the media on Thursday but it’s sure to be much more heated when the two sides meet in what should be a sell-out crowd at Allianz Stadium.
And the Sky Blues boss certainly did his best to stoke the fire of his rivals in the season’s first Harbour City clash.
"I don’t think Sydney [FC] can ever have the underdog status [against Wanderers],” Arnold told reporters.
"The Wanderers are trying to get to where Sydney FC is in terms of the size of the club, but also the training facilities and everything.
"The Wanderers are new, they're young…as I said last year, they are our younger brothers down the road and we've got to make sure we show that we’re the bigger club and the elder statesman."
Recent history backs up Arnold’s claims, with the Sky Blues unbeaten in the last four derbies, winning three of those.
But the Sydney boss noted each game is different and early season form makes it tough to predict an outcome.
One thing for certain though will be a raucous atmosphere at Moore Park, with more than 40,000 fans to jam into Allianz Stadium, or the Sky Blues’ “mansion” as Arnold puts it.
"We go out to their little shed [at Pirtek Stadium] and there's only 16,000-19,000 out there," the Sky Blues boss said.
"It's a one-night opportunity for the Wanderers to come out and come to the big city of Sydney, but also to our mansion. And 45,000 people in a full house and a great atmosphere, let's make a good spectacle of it.
“History shows we’re unbeaten the last four games but history means nothing when heading into another derby,” he added.
“It’s about who makes the right decisions at the right times, who gets the big decisions, the big calls, and who performs better on that one night.”
While the Wanderers haven’t picked up a win from the first two games, Arnold believes Tony Popovic’s outfit are still in pretty good form.
He feels derby experience could help his side deal with the occasion better and he wants his side to “fight” like they have been, especially in defence.
“The stats show over the first two games there’s been one shot on goal [against us],” Arnold said.
“Our defence is very strong and that’s starts from the front. [Alex] Brosque and Shane Smeltz are working extremely hard. Hopefully we’ve tightened things up a little bit.
“So far so good but it’s early in the season and it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We’ve got to make sure when the finishing line is nearby we’re up there near abouts and we’re coming home strong.”
Arnold confirmed marquee man Filip Holosko would be fit to return after missing the win over Newcastle Jets last week with hamstring tightness.