Hyundai A-League preview: Sydney FC v Wellington

The Sky Blues are winless in their last three and coach Graham Arnold will demand his players put things right against a wounded Wellington who've remained in Sydney since last weekend's loss at Wanderland.

MATCH DETAILS

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Kick-Off: 8:00 PM (Local) (8:00 PM (AEDT))

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.30pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)

#SYDvWEL

Radio Broadcast: Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live

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

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

Sydney FC squad: 1.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 2.Seb RYALL, 3.Alex GERSBACH, 5.Matt JURMAN, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Christopher NAUMOFF, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 14.Alex BROSQUE, 18.Matt SIMON, 19.Jacques FATY, 20.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 21.Filip HOLOSKO, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 24.George BLACKWOOD, 27.Mickael TAVARES

**two to be omitted**

Jacques Faty and Shane Smeltz

Ins: 11.Christopher NAUMOFF (promoted), 19.Jacques FATY (promoted), 24.George BLACKWOOD (promoted)

Outs: 4.Zac ANDERSON (omitted)

Unavailable: 22.Ali ABBAS (knee – indefinite)

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Glen MOSS (GK), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3.Justin GULLEY, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 7.Jeffrey SARPONG, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 10.Michael MCGLINCHEY, 11.Kwabena APPIAH, 12.Blake Powell, 13.Albert RIERA, 14.Alex RUFER, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Vince LIA, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 21, Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Matthew RIDENTON

**two to be omitted**

Wellington Phoenix

Ins: 17.Vince LIA (returns from injury), 12.Blake POWELL (returns from injury), 19.Tom DOYLE (promoted)

Outs: 18.Ben SIGMUND (Head Injury – 1 week)

Unavailable: Nil

Referee: Chris Beath

Assistant Referee 1: Owen Goldrick

Assistant Referee 2: Leigh Pigram

Fourth Official: Ben Williams

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

In a quirk of fate, the visitors from New Zealand are likely to be fresher than the home side on Thursday night. 

Ernie Merrick has kept his Phoenix in Sydney this week to prepare and they will head to Allianz Stadium. 

For the Sky Blues, fresh from a long flight and the scorching Perth heat, where they were unable to penetrate a stubborn Glory defence, they have dropped to fourth on the ladder. 

Their cracking start to the new season has hit a speed bump in recent weeks with just two points from their last three games.

Now back on home soil, and with a shorter week to recover and prepare, last season’s grand finalists face a Wellington side still hurting from their late collapse against the Wanderers last weekend.

Arnold has promised changes with Jacques Faty back while youngsters like Andrew Hoole, Brandon O’Neill and Chris Naumoff are all pushing for a start.

In a blow for Phoenix, defender Ben Sigmund will miss the clash through injury, forcing a reshuffle at the back with Manny Muscat potentially moving central and the returning Tom Doyle a chance to play left back.

Vince Lia and Blake Powell, who will come up against his former club, return from injury for the visitors.

OPTA DATA

  • Sydney FC have won six of their last eight matches against Wellington Phoenix (L2), including each of the last two.
  • Anything other than a win for Phoenix would be a fourth consecutive away fixture without victory, equaling their longest streak since going four Hyundai A-League games without an away win from February to April 2014.
  • Sydney FC have outscored Wellington 20-8 in their last eight clashes, though they have kept a clean sheet against the Phoenix only once in that period.
  • The Sky Blues have made more passes into the final third (510) than any other team so far this Hyundai A-League season.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Sydney FC drew a blank for the second time in three games last weekend.

Despite sitting fourth, goals have been hard to come by for the Sky Blues with only bottom two Adelaide and Perth finding the net less than Arnold’s side.

But their last outing on home soil was undoubtedly their most fluent attacking showing of the campaign in the 4-2 defeat to Melbourne Victory.

Now two months into the season, imports Milos Ninkovic and Filip Holosko should be finding their groove while striker Shane Smeltz will be keen to end his drought in front of goal against his former club.

Skipper Alex Brosque is pivotal for the Sky Blues, with his clever runs and turn of pace meaning he’s able to ghost in behind defences if not tracked.

Phoenix will again look to the pace of Roy Krishna to trouble the home side.

Michael McGlinchey and Roly Bonevacia’s knack of unlocking defences with a teasing dribble or pinpoint pass could be equally important to Wellington’s hopes of pulling off an upset on the road. 

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante has been in sensational form this season, winning a spot in the Hyundai A-League Team of the Week for Round 7. The hard-nosed central defender loves a one-on-one physical battle and is sure to enjoy coming up against fellow Kiwi international Smeltz in this one.

FORM LINES

Sydney FC: WWDLD

Phoenix: WLDWL

PREDICTION 

Sydney FC 2-1 Wellington Phoenix

#SYDvWEL