The last meeting between the Sky Blues and United was tinged with controversy.
Date: Sunday, 11 December 2011 Kick-off: 5.00pm AEDT, 4.00pm local Venue: Skilled Park
Head-to-head Played 7: Wins: Gold Coast 4, Sydney 2, Draws: 1
Previous encounter Sydney 3, Gold Coast 2, 6 November 2011
History: The last meeting between the Sky Blues and United was tinged with controversy. The visiting Gold Coast were 2-0 up after goals from Kristian Rees and Dylan Macallister, but Sydney mounted a stunning comeback through Brett Emerton and Nick Carle to draw level.
Then Karol Kisel sealed the three points with an injury-time penalty that became the target of a post-match spray from Miron Bleiberg, which saw him slapped with a fine and a suspended ban. It was Sydney's second win over the Gold Coast, but interestingly they've never taken a point away from their home on the Glitter Strip, Skilled Park.
Form: Past five matches: Gold Coast: LLLLL Sydney: WWLLW
Summary of form: One side is flying high, the other down in the doldrums. United are rock bottom after five consecutive losses, but the feeling in the camp isn't as damning as what that poor run would suggest. If they took their chances over the last few games, stopped giving away penalties and got the rub of the green for a change they could easily be in the top six.
On the other hand, Sydney became the first team in 36 games to beat reigning champions Brisbane Roar, and in doing so they showed the rest of the A-League the right way to approach them. As a result, they sit third as one of the competition's form sides.
Match Committee: Good news for Gold Coast - dynamic Dutch duo Paul Beekmans (foot) and Peter Jungschlager (ankle) are likely returns after missing last weekend's loss to the Glory. Ante Rozic is set for minor knee surgery and will definitely miss Sunday's match along with Joel Porter (calf). Sydney's Mark Bridge (back) is unlikely to be fit in time, but Scott Jamieson will return from suspension and Terry Antonis remains available for selection.
Danger men: Maceo Rigters - It's been a quiet few weeks for the powerful Dutchman. His first two weeks of life in the A-League were filled with promise, but since scoring against Newcastle early in the season he hasn't yet broken into the kind of form he's capable of.
Granted, Gold Coast are in a rough trot, some of his shots have had an almost magnetic attraction to the woodwork and he has been dealing with various knocks and niggling injuries over the last few weeks. But all Rigters needs is an inch of space, and that can all change in a heartbeat.
Dimi Petratos - One of the A-League's most promising young players, Petratos' partnership with Bruno Cazarine last weekend, combining pace and skill with strength and poise, was mouthwatering. It paid dividends in the first minute, with the 19-year-old putting the first nail in the coffin of the Roar's record-breaking streak. It was also a statement of intent. Petratos wants to stay in the starting XI, and if he does against Gold Coast, it could mean headaches for the United rearguard.
At the end of the day… Are there any forces that aren't conspiring against Gold Coast United right now? Just when it looked as if Miron Bleiberg's men were set to benefit from Sydney's grueling schedule of three games in seven days, an electrical storm hovering over Perth changed all that.
The Glory couldn't get a flight out of WA, meaning their clash with Sydney at Campbelltown on Wednesday had to be postponed - and that the Sky Blues will arrive on the Glitter Strip refreshed and recharged, rather than exhausted. That just sums up everything you need to know about United's season, but at the same time they've played a type of football that is out of place at the bottom of the table.
But the question is whether they can turn it around against a Sydney side with sky-high confidence. It's a very tough ask. We fancy the Sky Blues, but the tide will turn soon for Gold Coast.
Gold Coast United Squad: 1.Glen Moss [gk], 3.Michael Thwaite (c), 5.Kristian Rees, 6.Paul Beekmans, 12.Dylan Macallister, 13.Ante Rozic, 14.Ben Halloran, 15.Adama Traore, 16.Maceo Rigters, 17.Chris Harold, 18.James Brown, 20.Jerrad Tyson [gk], 21.Daniel Severino, 22.Peter Jungschlager, 23.Dylan McGowan, 24.Jonas Salley, 29.Mitch Bevan. *two to be omitted*
In: 6.Paul Beekmans (return from foot injury), 13.Ante Rozic (return from knee injury), 17.Chris Harold (promoted), 21.Daniel Severino (promoted), 22.Peter Jungschlager (return from ankle injury)
Out: 4.Zac Anderson (suspended - 1 game), 7.Golgol Mebrahtu, (not selected), 26.Ambes Yosief (not selected).
Unavailable: 4.Zac Anderson (suspended - 1 game), 9.Joel Porter (calf - 3 weeks), 19.Chris Broadfoot (ankle injury - 6 weeks).
Sydney FC squad: 1. Liam Reddy, 2. Sebastian Ryall, 3. Jamie Coyne, 4. Pascal Bosschaart, 5. Michael Beauchamp, 6. Hirofumi Moriyasu, 7. Brett Emerton, 8. Karol Kisel, 9. Bruno Cazarine, 10. Nick Carle, 11. Dimi Petratos, 12. Shannon Cole, 15. Terry McFlynn (c), 18. Juho Makela, 20. Ivan Necevski, 21. Scott Jamieson, 23. Rhyan Grant (two to be omitted).
Ins: Scott Jamieson (returns from suspension), Hirofumi Moriyasu (promoted) Outs: Nil Injuries: Mark Bridge (back - 1 week), Terry Antonis (Rested - 1 week)