Hyundai A-League preview: Sydney FC v Wanderers

Derby Day in Sydney. There's nothing like it, is there? This fixture is always fueled by drama and passion and Saturday night at a sold-out Allianz will be no different.

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MATCH DETAILS

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Allianz Stadium, Sydney

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

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

Radio Broadcast: 702 ABC Sydney, 666 ABC Canberra 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 #SydneyDerby

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets 

Sydney FC squad: 1.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 2.Seb RYALL, 5.Matt JURMAN, 6.Robert STAMBOLZIEV, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 14.Alex BROSQUE, 17.David CARNEY, 18.Matt SIMON, 19.Jacques FATY, 20.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 21.Filip HOLOSKO, 22.Ali ABBAS, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 24.George BLACKWOOD, 27.Mickael TAVARES

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 18.Matt SIMON (returns from suspension), 21.Filip HOLOSKO (returns from hamstring injury)

Sydney FC's marquee man Filip Holosko is bemused by Matt Simon's one-game ban.

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: Nil

Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad: 2.Shannon COLE, 3.Scott JAMIESON, 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5.Brendan HAMILL, 6.Mitch NICHOLS, 7.Romeo CASTELEN, 8.DIMAS, 10.Dario VIDOSIC, 11.Brendon SANTALAB, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 14.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 15.Kearyn BACCUS,16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 18.ANDREU, 19.Mark BRIDGE, 20.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 21.Jacob PEPPER, 30.Liam REDDY (gk)

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 5.Brendan HAMILL (promoted), 8.DIMAS (returns from suspension), 14.Golgol MEBRAHTU (promoted), 18.ANDREU (returns from injury)

Wanderers midfielder Andreu celebrates converting a penalty against the Jets in Round 5 with teammate Scott Neville.

Outs: 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS (suspended – 1 match), 36.Liam YOULLEY (not selected)

Unavailable: 17.ALBERTO (suspended – 1 match)

Referee: Jarred Gillett

Assistant Referee 1: David Walsh

Assistant Referee 2: James Tesoriero

Fourth Official: Kris Griffiths-Jones

#SydneyDerby

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

The derby is always a huge fixture for these two clubs but you get a sense there’s more than just local bragging rights on the line in this one. 

Both sides are coming off demoralizing home defeats last weekend and are desperate for three points.

The Sky Blues' 2-1 loss to Perth has seen them drop to sixth spot, with just three points separating them from seventh-placed Glory.

Sydney FC players put through their paces at training.

With a nightmare draw ahead over the next few weeks, victory has never been more paramount.

This clash actually marks the start of a gruelling stretch of five games in 15 days for Graham Arnold’s troops, with matches also against Victory and City in the A-League (both away) and Urawa Reds and Guangzhou Evergrande in the ACL (they jet off to Japan on Sunday morning). 

Good thing for the Sky Blues then they relish taking on their noisy neighbours. It’s currently six derbies without defeat for Sydney FC.

The Wanderers have arguably dominated both of this season’s previous encounters only to lose in the dying minutes.

Coach Tony Popovic is adamant there’s no mental barrier there for his side but until they can turn their fortunes around, doubts are sure to remain.

They’ll have to improve on last week’s showing if they are any hope of beating Sydney though, coming off a 5-2 drubbing to Wellington last Sunday.

The Wanderers, who missed the chance to go top of the table with that defeat, were uncharacteristically and seemed to lack imagination. It’s something we haven’t seen from them before so far this season. 

Wanderers midfielder Dario Vikosic slumps to the turf at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday.

Every side is entitled to an off day so surely they won’t be as poor against their fierce rivals.

Their cause is sure to be helped by the return of Spanish midfield duo Andreu and Dimas. The pair were sorely missed last weekend and their return will helped the Wanderers control the tempo better.

The main question is who will partner Topor-Stanley in central defence with Alberto and Aspro suspended. Brendan Hamill has been included in the squad but hasn’t played for some months due to injury and it would be a gamble to throw him straight in. 

Jacob Pepper is likely to be given first crack.

Simon and Holosko return to the Sky Blues squad to give Arnold a few more options up front.

Sydney striker Matt Simon puts in a challenge on Victory's Oliver Bozanic.

OPTA DATA

*Sydney FC is undefeated in the last six Sydney Derby’s including wins in their last three, the longest winning streak of either team in this fixture’s Hyundai A-League history.

*Western Sydney has won four and drawn two of their last seven games away from home in the Hyundai A-League and only once in that span have they been kept to one goal or fewer.

*After back-to-back home losses Sydney FC will be out to prevent a third on the bounce which would equal their longest home losing streak in Hyundai A-League history.

*The Wanderers capitulation at the hands of Wellington last round was only the fifth time in their history that they had scored two or more goals in a Hyundai A-League game and lost.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Defence would have been a major focus for both sides this week after their shaky showing last weekend.

The Wanderers had never conceded five goals in a match before they were exposed by Blake Powell and you can bet Popa would have reinforced his message on the training pitch.

The new central defensive partnership will have to gel quickly because the Sky Blues will look to capitalize on any vulnerability.

Alex Brosque is edging closer to a return from a hamstring injury.

Set pieces were the source of both Sydney goals in the last derby and it will be an avenue they will look to exploit again, especially with the excellent delivery from Dimitrijevic and Ninkovic.

While he was quiet last weekend, Brosque’s presence up-front is vital and his clever runs and deft touch could spark the home side.

For the Wanderers, Nichols’ class and ability to pick up possession in between the lines and link with his front three will be key.

Having Andreu and Dimas behind him and getting the right service into his feet is sure to make Nichols’ job that much easier. He badly missed that last Sunday against Wellington.

Look for Arnie to give Mickael Tavares or Brandon O’Neill the job of keeping Nichols quiet.

Bridge is in career-best form in front of goal while Castelen has been fairly subdued in recent weeks, this is the time for him to rediscover his best.

Wanderers striker Mark Bridge celebrates scoring against the Mariners in Round 16.

How Sydney deals with the Wanderers attack-minded full-backs Jamieson and Neville (can they pin them back?) will be another feature of what will be a riveting 90 minutes.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Graham Arnold. The Sky Blues boss says he’s enduring the toughest period of his coaching career and another defeat could see his side drop out of the top six. But he loves coaching against Popa and the Wanderers. Will this match-up bring out Arnie’s best again?

FORM LINES

Sydney FC: WLLDL

Wanderers: LWWDL

PREDICTION 

Sydney FC 1-3 Western Sydney Wanderers