Hyundai A-League preview: Wanderers v Sydney FC

The Sydney Derby. It's sporting theatre like no other. And this one looms as a classic. Will the Sky Blues continue their recent derby dominance or can the Wanderers prove again they are the real deal in 2015/16? 

MATCH DETAILS

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta

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

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.15pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 4 (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 #WSWvSYD

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

Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad: 3.Scott JAMIESON, 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (c), 6.Mitch NICHOLS, 7.Romeo CASTELEN, 8.DIMAS, 9.Federico PIOVACCARI, 10.Dario VIDOSIC, 11.Brendon SANTALAB, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 14.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 15.Kearyn BACCUS, 17.ALBERTO, 18.ANDREU, 19.Mark BRIDGE, 20.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 21.Jacob PEPPER, 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 30.Liam REDDY (gk)

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 11.Brendon SANTALAB (promoted), 12.Scott NEVILLE (returns from suspension)

Western Sydney striker Brendon Santalab has earned himself a yellow card every 63 minutes of football he has played in the Hyundai A-League this season.

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO (Olyroos duty)

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, 11.Christopher NAUMOFF, 18.Matt SIMON, 19.Jacques FATY, 20.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 21.Filip HOLOSKO, 22.Ali ABBAS, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 24.George BLACKWOOD, 25.Aaron CALVER, 27.Mickael TAVARES, 29.Alex MULLEN

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 25.Aaron CALVER (promoted), 29.Alex MULLEN (promoted)

Sydney FC players celebrate their Round 14 win over the Jets at Allianz Stadium.

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 3.Alex GERSBACH, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 13.Brandon O’NEILL (all Olyroos duty), 14.Alex BROSQUE (hamstring – 4 weeks)

Referee: Strebre Delovski

Assistant Referee 1: Nathan MacDonald

Assistant Referee 2: James Tesoriero

Fourth Official: Stephen Lucas

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

#WSWvSYD

If the build-up and hype ahead of this match is anything to go, by then this derby could be the best yet.

A sell-out crowd and a raucous atmosphere is assured at Pirtek as these two sides of the Harbour City go to war in this epic – and potentially – season-defining clash.

While the Sky Blues have the better of the recent head-to-head clashes – unbeaten in the last five – the Wanderers may never get a better chance to put things right than Saturday night.

Wanderers are also boosted by the return of striker Brendon Santalab from injury, while Scott Neville will come straight into the starting 11 at right-back after serving a one-game ban.

Scott Neville and Andreu celebrate after the latter equalised from the penalty spot.

While the red and black are coming off a 3-2 loss to Melbourne City last weekend, it was just the club’s first in their last 11 games and they face a Sky Blues outfit without four first-team regulars.

Brosque, O’Neill, Hoole and Gersbach are all missing for the visitors, meaning it will be up to the club’s legion of imports to produce the goods.

The likes of Ninkovic, Tavares and Holosko did just that in the 2-0 win over Newcastle last Saturday but now need to deliver against a fired-up and high-flying Wanderers.

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

It should be another all-action, blood and thunder Sydney derby. 

OPTA DATA

*Western Sydney Wanderers are undefeated in their last six home Hyundai A-League games. A win or draw against Sydney FC would equal their longest streak since the won 11 on the bounce in 2013.

*Sydney FC is undefeated in the last five Sydney Derbies, winning four and drawing once despite conceding seven goals in the process.

*The Wanderers have scored nine goals in the final 15 minutes of matches this Hyundai A-League season, the most of any team, while Sydney have conceded a club high 25 percent of their goals in the same period.

*Matt Simon has been substituted on from the bench 10 times this season, the most of any player and two more than Wanderers main one Santalab (8).

ROUTE TO GOAL

The Hyundai A-League’s second best attack (Wanderers) goes up against the competition’s equal-best defence (Sky Blues).

On that stat it would be easy to suggest the visitors will head to Wanderland looking to sit deep, soak up the pressure and rely on their water-tight defence to get a result.

But there’s been more to the Sky Blues game going forward over the last three games.

It’s not just the eight goals they have scored but the number of chances created and style of football. Some of it has been simply breathtaking.

If they had been just a touch more clinical in front of goal, that number would have been well into double figures.

It should come as no surprise that improvement has coincided with Ninkovic’s switch to the 10 role and his exceptional individual form.

Milos Ninkovic celebrates after scoring against Melbourne City.

Youngster George Blackwood has started both the last two games and looked pretty good, but is still waiting for his first A-League goal.

Whether Arnold sticks with the teenager for the white-hot atmosphere of a derby – with the experienced Smeltz and Simon as options – is the question.

For the Wanderers, they continue to be one of the league’s most entertaining sides.

While in the past they have relied on one or two players for their attacking thrust, it’s certainly a team effort in 2015/16. They have threats everywhere and every player knows their role.

Given the impact Romeo Castelen had off the bench against City last week, you would expect the Dutchman to get a start in this one. His battle with Rhyan Grant on the Wanderers right will be crucial.

Romeo Castelen

Look for Bridge and Nichols to link up whenever they can with some intricate passing while the stocky frame of Piovaccari will take plenty of stopping for the visitors.

This should be one of the games of the season. Can’t wait!

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Ali Abbas. What a stunning return to the pitch it was by the popular Iraqi last week after more than a year out of the game with a knee injury. Abbas’ match-sealing goal was one of the highlights of the weekend and will have him in a confident mood going into the derby. Will there be any mental demons on his return to Pirtek, the scene of where the 29-year-old’s horror injury occurred?

FORM LINES

Wanderers: WDWDL

Sydney: LDWDW

PREDICTION 

Western Sydney Wanderers 2-2 Sydney FC