How Sydney FC will stop Roar's goal king

Saturday’s clash at Suncorp Stadium sees former Perth Glory team-mates Brandon O’Neill and Roar's 17-goal striker Jamie Maclaren go head-to-head when Brisbane host the Sky Blues.

With three games left in the season, it's huge for both sides - the visitors must win to kick-start their Finals Series charge. 

Meanwhile, Roar are close to a Premiership trophy knowing three points will keep the pressure on Wanderers, City and the Reds. 

Hyundai A-League fixture run-in and predictions

How to shutdown Maclaren?  That's the question. 

O’Neill has his own take after seeing him up close day-in-day-out in the West.

Brandon O'Neill

“He’ll always work hard and be on the move and you just have to match up to everything, whatever he brings to the table you have to bring more,” O’Neill told www.sydneyfc.com

“I remember marking him in training and thought the best way of out-marking him was to work harder than him and stop the supply to him.

“I think that’s a big thing we’ll have to focus on this week. We’ll have to stop the supply to everyone around him as well.

“I think the main thing will be to work harder than Brisbane, out work them and we’ve got the quality to match them there’s no doubt about that.”

The pair, who were teammates in the Olyroos’ ill-fated campaign for Rio in January, are both known for their hard work.

Olyroos

That’s why Arnold bought O’Neill in to give his midfield an extra dose of enthusiasm. 

And it’s reaping rewards for “Macca”, too.

"He was always a very hard worker at training, and what he’s doing now for Brisbane he used to do at Perth Glory in the training sessions," added O'Neill.

"He used to do extra stuff after training and he’s reaped the rewards pretty much as he’s still banging the goals in at Brisbane. 

"I couldn’t be happier for him, I know what he’s been through and I know how hard he’s had to work to get to where he is now."

Maclaren left Perth at the end of last season as opportunities at Glory appeared limited.

Though one wonders what might have been if he’d stayed - Maclaren, Keogh, Castro and Harold would’ve been scarily good as a front four.

Jamie Maclaren

That said, O’Neill feels Maclaren’s game has become more rounded at Roar.

“What’s improved out of sight this year is his link up play and first touch.

“He’s been able to bring people into the game this year where maybe on past years he’s been working on that and it seems to have come to the fore this year.

“He’s always had speed and his positioning has been very good but his first touch and link up play have definitely improved.

“It’s great to see he could be in line for a Socceroos call up.”

As for Sydney FC’s season, it’s desperation time. They simply must win their final three games and O'Neill knows it. 

“All the talking has to be stopped. It’s time for action, we have to go out and get the three points and then move on to the next one after that.

“We’re the ones that have put ourselves in this situation, we need to be big enough, strong enough, stick together, get ourselves out, make the finals and give the finals a good shake this year.”

#BRIvSYD