Preview: Gold Coast United v Sydney FC

Gold Coast's season has slid dramatically away in the past two weeks and Miron Bleiberg faces a big task to get things back on track against the ladder-leader Sydney FC at home this week.

Date: Saturday November 7 Kick-off: 8:00pm AEST, 9:00pm AEDT Venue: Skilled Park TV and Radio:

Head-to-head 1 A-League meeting: Wins: Gold Coast United 1, Sydney FC 0, Draws: 0

Previous Meeting Gold Coast United 2, Sydney FC 1, Round 5, September 2009,

Past five matches: Gold Coast United: Round 9: Gold Coast United 0, Wellington Phoenix 0, Skilled Park Round 10: Brisbane 0, Gold Coast United 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 11: Gold Coast United 2, Perth Glory 1, Skilled Park Round 12: Wellington Phoenix 6, Gold Coast United 0, Westpac Stadium Round 13: Gold Coast United 0, North Queensland 2, Skilled Park

Sydney FC: Round 9: Sydney FC 1, Central Coast Mariners 0, Sydney Football Stadium Round 10: Melbourne Victory 0, Sydney FC 3, Etihad Stadium Round 11: Adelaide United 2, Sydney FC 1, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 12: Sydney FC 2, Brisbane Roar 1, Sydney Football Stadium Round 13: Sydney FC 3, Wellington Phoenix 1, Sydney Football Stadium

Analysis: Gold Coast's season has slid dramatically away in the past two weeks and Miron Bleiberg faces a big task to get things back on track against the ladder-leader Sydney FC at home this week. While the 6-0 loss to Wellington was bad, the 2-0 defeat by North Queensland, a team that GCU had defeated 5-0 earlier in the season, indicated that it wasn't just about one poor match.

If Gold Coast has any pretentions of claiming the title in its inaugural year, then it has to stand up and get a good result here. Sydney has been the measuring stick this season, but faltered with a loss here in September, and that may give Miron's men some faith that they can get the job done.

The problem in the past two matches has been the space which Gold Coast has afforded opposition teams going forward. Both the Phoenix and the Fury moved the ball quickly through the midfield and caught Gold Coast out, putting the pressure on Scott Higgins. Higgins hasn-t had a great couple of matches but retains his spot with Jess Vanstratten still another week away.

Brazilian Robson suffered a knee injury and will miss the next eight weeks in a further blow for United, while Golgol Mebrahtu has been omitted. Kristian Rees returns from injury while Matt Osman, James Brown, Mtich bevan and Milson have been included in an extended squad.

This is the last of a run of five home games in seven for United, who have failed to make the most of that draw, winning only one of its past four at Skilled Park. However, while doom and gloom hangs over the club, it shouldn-t be forgotten that they are still in third spot on the ladder.

It's all very positive at Sydney FC at the moment after another good home win, this time against Wellington, making it four wins in the past five for the Sky Blues.

Everything seems to be falling nicely into place at the moment, with Alex Brosque and Mark Bridge combining beautifully up front, things looking strong in the middle for the park and Simon Colosimo marshalling the second-best defence in the league.

Vitezslav Lavicka has very few injury problems at the moment and Swiss import Stephan Keller comes back in from injury with Kofi Danning and Rhyan Grant both on international duty.

With such a clean bill of health - only Mitch Prentice is unavailable through injury - Lavicka has been able to put a consistent team out on the park and has not made a change to his starting XI in any of the past three matches. Fitting Kellar back in would appear to be his biggest headache at the moment.

The one criticism you could make of Sydney this season ahs been its away form, having won only one of their past five on the road. The Sky Blues' most recent away match was probably their worst effort for the season as they crashed 2-1 to ten-man Adelaide.

But still, their recent performance should have them very much confident for the trip to Skilled Park. With the issues over crowd numbers and tickets seemingly resolved, a bumper crowd should be treated to a match which could prove season-defining for the either side.

Gold Coast United Squad: 20.Scott HIGGINS (gk), 2.Steve PANTELIDIS, 3.Michael THWAITE, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 8.JEFFERSON, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Jason CULINA (c), 11.MILSON, 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 14.Joel PORTER, 15.Tahj MINNIECON, 16.Kristian REES, 17.Matt OSMAN, 18.James BROWN, 23.Steve FITZSIMMONS, 24.ANDERSON, 28.Mitch BEVAN, 30.Jerrad TYSON (gk) *three to be omitted*

In: Kristian REES (return from hip injury), Matt OSMAN (promoted), James BROWN (promoted), Mitch BEVAN, MILSON (promoted)

Out: Golgol MEBRAHTU (not selected), ROBSON (knee injury - 8 weeks)

Unavailable: Daniel PIORKOWSKI (ankle injury - 4 weeks), Richard GREER (groin injury - 2 weeks), Adama TRAORE (knee injury - 5 weeks), Jess VANSTRATTAN (gk) (back injury - 1 week)

Sydney FC squad: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 2. Sebastian RYALL, 3.Stephan KELLER, 4. Simon COLOSIMO, 6. Karol KISEL, 7 Brendan GAN, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 9. John ALOISI, 10. Steve CORICA (c), 12. Shannon COLE, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 15. Terry MCFLYNN, 17. Matthew JURMAN, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 22. Sung Hwan BYUN *one to be omitted*

In: Stephan KELLER (return from injury)

Out: Kofi DANNING (International duty), Rhyan GRANT (International duty)

Unavailable: Mitchell PRENTICE (back - 1 week)