How can Central Coast Mariners spring another upset on Sydney FC?

Sydney FC's return of 26 points from a possible 30 has been the perfect response to their shock 2-1 defeat away to Central Coast in Round 6.

The Sky Blues look as confident as ever as they aim to exact revenge on the Mariners in Saturday night's meeting at Allianz Stadium.

But having done it once, can the underdogs again inflict more damage on the champions' swagger? We've taken a look at how they might manage it.

BALANCE IN THE ENGINE ROOM

Winning the midfield battle is important in most matches, but particularly so against Sydney.

Where some lack refinement in possession, and others can be caught out on counter-attacks, Graham Arnold's trusted anchors of Josh Brillante and Brandon O'Neill are brilliant in both departments.

It makes Wout Brama and Tom Hiariej's multi-dimensional efforts in November all the more impressive, with the Dutch duo combining for more passes and a greater number of successful duels while matching their opponents in interceptions.

Brandon O'Neill
Tom Hiariej will need to be at his best against Brandon O'Neill.

PLAYING THE EARLY PASS

Central Coast found a way through Sydney's normally rock-solid defence for the opening goal thanks to their willingness to move the ball at speed.

No player took more than two touches in a swift build-up as Adrubal immediately rewarded Andrew Hoole's lung-busting run, allowing the winger to cap off the counter-attack with a cool finish.

Allowing the league's tightest back four to settle into shape simply won't offer the same rewards.

Andrew Hoole
Andrew Hoole netted the opener last time around.

BEING BRAVE

They won't have the crowd on their side this time around, so the young Mariners must find it within themselves to take the game to Sydney if they're truly set on claiming three points.

"We had to match [Sydney's] commitment, their hunger," Paul Okon said after the previous victory, acknowledging the need to raise a level.

Doing that again will give them a chance of repeating their finest win of the season.

Paul Okon