Hyundai A-League preview: Sydney FC v Mariners

An intriguing Boxing Day clash awaits fans at Allianz with both sides in this NSW derby acutely aware of the importance of the three points.

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MATCH DETAILS

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners

Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Kick-Off: 7:30 PM (Local) (7:30 PM (AEDT))

Referee: Ben Williams

Assistant Referee 1: Allyson Flynn

Assistant Referee 2: Andrej Giev

Fourth Official: Luke Withell

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)

#SYDvCCM

Radio Broadcast: 702 ABC Sydney, ABC Local Radio NSW, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live. Coast Fm 96.3 (Central Coast)

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #SYDvCCM

To purchase tickets visit www.a-league.com.au/tickets  

Sydney FC squad: 1.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 2.Seb RYALL, 3.Alex GERSBACH, 5.Matt JURMAN, 6. Robert STAMBOLZIEV, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Christopher NAUMOFF, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 14.Alex BROSQUE, 18.Matt SIMON, 19. Jacques FATY, 20.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 23.Rhyan GRANT, 24.George BLACKWOOD, 25.Aaron CALVER, 27.Mickael TAVARES **two to be omitted**

Ins: 3.Alex GERSBACH (returns from suspension),6. Robert STAMBOLZIEV (promoted),14.Alex BROSQUE (returns from injury)

Alex Brosque is set to return from injury against the Mariners.

Outs: 21. Filip HOLOSKO (suspended – 1 week),

Unavailable:  9.Shane SMELTZ (groin – 1 week), 22.Ali ABBAS (knee – indefinite)

Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Paul IZZO (GK), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 6.Mitch AUSTIN, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Nick FITZGERALD,15.Matthew SIM, 16.Liam ROSE, 19.Josh BINGHAM, 20.Anthony KALIK, 22.Jake McGING 23.Tomislav USKOK, 40.Tom HEWARD-BELLE (GK) **two to be omitted**

Ins: 20.Anthony KALIK (promoted) 23.Tomislav USKOK (promoted)

Tomislav Uskok in action for Melbourne Knights.

Outs: -

Unavailable: 18.Glen TRIFIRO (back – 1 week) 

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

For the second week in a row, the Sky Blues were sunk by a late penalty.

Jacques Faty’s clumsy challenge against Wellington last week meant Sydney FC had to settle for a point across the ditch.

Coach Graham Arnold is grumpy at the best of times but his mood would only have got worse given the downturn in results for his side over the last month or so.

The Sky Blues have tasted victory just once in seven games as they sit fourth at Christmas. It was early in the New Year where they made their charge last season and Arnold will be hoping something similar will happen this time around.

Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante had a running battle with Sydney FC striker Matt Simon.

This looms as the perfect game for Sydney to begin their turnaround because it’s all going wrong lately for the Mariners.

Dimitri Petratos’ last striker on Sunday made it five defeats in a row for the boys from Gosford. They have been cut adrift from the rest of the pack to remain rooted to the bottom of the A-League ladder.

Whatever you think of the club’s attack-at-all-costs philosophy, this run of results simply isn’t good reading for their fans.

It might be time for Tony Walmsley to tinker with his style or the Mariners season could be all but over before the calendar changes over to 2016.

OPTA DATA

-Sydney FC has won their last four Hyundai A-League encounters with the Mariners, their longest streak against Central Coast in the competition’s history.

-The Mariners have lost their last five Hyundai A-League fixtures, a sixth loss would set a new club record for most consecutive losses in the competition.

-Sydney FC (82) has faced the fewest shots on goal of any team in the Hyundai A-League this season while Central Coast (168) have faced the second most.

-Central Coast Mariners haven’t won an away match in the Hyundai A-League (inc. finals) since April 12th, 2014, 20 matches ago.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Sydney (with 11 goals from 11 games) has the worst attacking record of the sides currently in the top six, still trying to work out their best system in the front third.

While goals have been hard to come by, they do look more of a threat ever since Milos Ninkovic has moved into the no.10 role, with Andrew Hoole and Filip Holosko working the flanks.

Speaking of Holosko and what a goal he scored against Phoenix last weekend. It’s the sort of strike that shows the quality he has and justifies the club’s decision to make him their marquee signing. 

Unfortunately the Slovakian in suspended for this one, opening the door for either Naumoff or Brosque to get the open spot out wide.

The Mariners will be banking on the pace and flair of Fabio Ferreira to ignite their attack.

Central Coast’s Fabio Ferreira and Adelaide United playmaker Marcelo Carrusca have each potted two penalties, the most of any player.

The Portuguese flyer loves playing against the Sky Blues and should be in line for a starting berth after making a substitute appearance last weekend in his return from a hamstring injury.

But Walmsley will need to get more productivity out of Caceres, Fitzgerald and O’Donovan if they are to land a knockout blow on Boxing Day and sail back with the three points. 

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Matt Simon. Had his first start as a Sky Blue last week and did so well he made the Hyundai A-League Team of the Week. He’s already stung the Mariners this season, scoring twice when Sydney FC won 3-1 back in round 4.

Sydney FC striker Matt Simon celebrates one of his two goals against the Mariners.

FORM LINES

Sydney FC: DDWLD

Mariners: LLLLL

PREDICTION 

Sydney FC 2-1 Central Coast Mariners