With the race for the Premiers' Plate heating up, these two teams must get back to winning ways or they can wave goodbye to 2015-16's first piece of Hyundai A-League silverware.
Saturday, 5 March 2016
Melbourne City FC v Sydney FC
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 7:30 PM (Local) (7:30 PM (AEDT))
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Assistant Referee 1: George Lakrindis
Assistant Referee 2: Luke Brennan
Fourth Official: Jonathan Barreiro
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.15pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 4 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, ABC Local Radio NSW, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live.
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #MCYvSYD
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets
Melbourne City FC Squad: 1.Thomas SORENSEN (gk), 2.Alex WILKINSON, 4.Connor CHAPMAN, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 8.Aaron MOOY, 9.Harry NOVILLO, 11.Michael ZULLO, 14.James BROWN, 18.Paulo RETRE, 19.Ben GARUCCIO, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 23.Bruno FORNAROLI, 24.Patrick KISNORBO, 25.Jacob MELLING, 26.Marc MARINO, 27.Nick FITZGERALD, 29.Anthony CACERES, 33.Osama MALIK
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 4.Connor CHAPMAN (returns from injury), 9.Harry NOVILLO (promoted)
Unavailable: 7.Corey GAMEIRO (knee - season)
Sydney FC squad: 1.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 4.Zac ANDERSON, 5.Matt JURMAN, 6.Rob STAMBOLZIEV, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Christopher NAUMOFF, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 18.Matt SIMON , 20.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 21.Filip HOLOSKO, 22.Ali ABBAS, 24.George BLACKWOOD, 25.Aaron CALVER, 27.Mickael TAVARES, 29.Alex MULLEN
***two to be omitted***
Ins: 4.Zac ANDERSON (promoted), 7.Andrew HOOLE (promoted), 11.Christopher NAUMOFF (promoted), 22.Ali ABBAS (promoted), 24.George BLACKWOOD (promoted), 27.Mickael TAVARES (promoted), 29.Alex MULLEN (promoted)
Outs: 2.Seb RYALL (suspended 1 week), 14.Alex BROSQUE (hamstring - indefinite), 17.David CARNEY (suspended - 1 week), 19.Jacques FATY (suspended - 1 week), 23.Rhyan GRANT (suspended - 1 week)
Over the past five weeks, these two sides have notched just one win between them.
City are struggling since the departure of Erik Paartalu - just one win in four games without the now-Jeonbuk Motors defensive midfielder - while Sydney haven't tasted success in six A-League matches.
The Sky Blues will bring some confidence into this fixture, however, after stunning ACL title-holders Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday.
After a lot of criticism of Sydney's defensive tactics over the past couple of months, coach Graham Arnold seemed to release the handbrake versus Evergrande.
And with three of his regular back four - Jacques Faty, Seb Ryall and Rhyan Grant - suspended in the A-League, perhaps he'll do so again.
David Carney (suspension) and Alex Brosque (hamstring) are also unavailable, with seven players coming into Sydney's squad from last week's 1-1 draw against Melbourne Victory.
For City, who lost 2-1 at Wellington Phoenix last week, Connor Chapman and Harry Novillo both return, with the latter having completed his club-imposed ban.
- Three of the last five matches between these sides have ended in stalemate.
- City are undefeated in their last seven matches at home in the A-League, the second longest streak in the club's history.
- Sydney are enduring a six-match winless streak and a seventh match victory would equal their second-longest run in the A-League, which came in 2014-15.
- Matt Jurman has made 74 clearances so far this season, the most of any player.
ROUTE TO GOAL
City remain the A-League's leading scorers this season with 2.42 goals per game but have conceded 1.81 per match.
In their last five games, City's goal difference has been 0, with John van 't Schip's ongoing defensive issues leading to a downturn in form.
Chapman's return may help, while van 't Schip could be tempted to use the 3-5-2 formation from earlier in the season when City take on Sydney at AAMI Park.
In a boost for City, however, they are set to come up against the worst attacking team in the A-League's top six on Saturday night.
While Sydney managed two goals against Evergrande, they have only matched that feat once during their current win-less run in the A-League.
Without Brosque and Carney, plenty of pressure will fall on Filip Holosko's shoulders, while Matt Simon's battle with internal bleeding could define Sydney's chances in Melbourne.
Arnold will undoubtedly be worried about how he will stop Bruno Fornaroli and Co. with Faty, Ryall and Grant unavailable.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Robert Stambolziev. The 25-year-old winger made just his second start in all competitions in the AFC Champions League and scored Sydney's opening goal against the Asian champions.
FORM LINES (ALL COMPETITIONS)
Melbourne City: LLDWL
Sydney FC: DLDDW
Melbourne City 2-1 Sydney FC