Preview: Adelaide United v Sydney FC

Adelaide United and Sydney FC will meet in Round 13 of the 2013-14 A-League season at Coopers Stadium on Friday, January 3 at 7.30pm AEDT.

Adelaide United and Sydney FC will meet in Round 13 of the 2013-14 A-League season at Coopers Stadium on Friday, January 3 at 7.30pm AEDT.

Head-to-head:

Played 26: Wins: Adelaide 11, Sydney 12, Draws: 3

Previous encounter:

Sydney FC 2-1 Adelaide, February 16, 2013

Form: Past five matches:

Adelaide: WDWLD Sydney: LLWLW

The Game:

Adelaide have breathed new life into their season - and released the pressure valve on coach Josep Gombau - with seven points from their past three matches including last weekend's spiteful 1-0 win over Newcastle. What's more impressive though is they have managed to keep a clean sheet in all of those matches and they have looked a far more resolute outfit. They do have some injury worries heading into this one though, with Osama Malik (ankle) and Marcelo Carrusca (groin) both in serious doubt, while Jeronimo Neumann is suspended. But winger Fabio Ferreira is a chance to return.

After a four-game winning streak a few weeks back, Sydney are suddenly in freefall after three defeats from their past four matches. The Sky Blues were blown away by league leaders Brisbane last time out, crushed 5-2 on their home turf at Allianz Stadium. Skipper Alessandro Del Piero lasted only 45 minutes of that match but is expected to be right to face the Reds. Joel Chianese is a chance to return from injury while youngster Corey Gamiero is pushing for a starting berth after two strong performances off the bench in the last fortnight.

The big issue:

Adelaide - The Reds' return to form has been off-set by a string of injuries. Fabio Ferreira has missed the last couple of matches and now the likes of Malik and Carrusca are set to join him on the sidelines. With a host of key players out of the side - or at least not 100 per cent fit - Adelaide's depth is going to be severely tested at a time where they need to continually picking up points. 

Sydney - Frank Farina needs to find away to re-invigorate and re-energise his side after they looked horribly tired and slow in the defeat to the Roar. It might have had something to do with the fact the average age of the side was over 30, the oldest team in Sydney FC's history. While the experience of the likes Del Piero, Brett Emerton, Richard Garcia and Matt Thompson is important, it might be an idea to get a few more youngsters in the team to add the pace and spark needed to compete with the leading teams in the A-League.

The game breaker:

Bruce Djite - It's no surprise the Reds struggled for results at the start of the season when Djite was sidelined through injury. The burly striker provides a real focal point to the Adelaide attack and his ability to hold up the ball and bring the likes of Carrusca, Cirio and Isaias into the game is vitally important. Djite is starting to find his range in front of goal to, his strike against the Jets was his second for the campaign in a handful of starts.