Are Melbourne City the real deal in the Hyundai A-League this season?
On a six-game unbeaten run and just four points behind second-placed Newcastle Jets, Warren Joyce’s men seem to be hitting their straps at just the right time.
But in the Hyundai A-League, there’s no better gauge of how a team is travelling than how they perform against the steam-train that is the Sky Blues.
For context, Sydney FC have lost just two of their last 49 games in the Hyundai A-League, including finals.
And City have felt the full wrath of a rampant Sky Blues outfit in that time – the only exception being the 2016 Westfield FFA Cup final.
In the last four meetings between the two clubs in the Hyundai A-League, Sydney FC have won all four, by a margin of 10-2.
But this weekend City get a chance to put that right when they host Graham Arnold’s league-leaders in a blockbuster clash at AAMI Park.
While the result won’t affect either side on the ladder, there’s a sense it’s a real season-defining clash for City.
If they are to meet the Sky Blues again come the finals, knowing they’ve been able to find the formula to beat them during the regular season will provide a great psychological boost.
City boasts a squad with plenty of experience but ironically it’s been the emergence of a teenager that has sparked their mid-season resurgence.
Since x-factor Daniel Arzani has come into the starting side, Warren Joyce's side have been a different team.
They are unbeaten and now scoring plenty of goals – even with the departure of leading scorer Ross McCormack back to the UK.
Throw in the impending return of star striker Bruno Fornaroli and City have the ammunition to trouble any defence, even the miserly Sky Blues back-four.
It all points to what should be an intriguing encounter at AAMI Park, with a few key questions to be answered.
Can City halt Sydney FC’s devastating front four?
How will they be able to breach the league’s stingiest defence?
Is there a way to dominate the Sky Blues’ energetic and hard-working midfield?
Are City genuinely the real deal in the 2017/18 Season?
We’re likely to know a lot more come 10pm on Saturday night.