The Sky Blues claimed early bragging rights in this fixture with a 1-0 win back in round three but the Wanderers should possess an even stiffer challenge this time around.
Date: Saturday, December 15, 2012 Kick-off: 7.45pm AEDT Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Head-to-head: Played 1: Sydney FC 1, Wanderers 0, Draws: 0
Previous encounter: Wanderers 0-1 Sydney FC, October 20, 2012
Form: Past five matches: Sydney FC: LLLDW Wanderers: LWLLW
The Game: What a difference a week makes in football. This time last week it was all doom and gloom for the two Sydney sides, who were struggling for wins and propping up the rest of the competition. But victories for both over the weekend have lifted the spirits ahead of the second harbour city derby of the season. The Sky Blues handed new boss Frank Farina a first-up win with a spirited performance in the gritty 2-1 road success in Wellington. The Wanderers, who beat champions Brisbane for the second time in six weeks thanks to Shinji Ono's penalty, moved up five places to fourth heading into the weekend. Farina will be forced into at least one change to his winning side with skipper Terry McFlynn suspended after he was sent off against the Phoenix. But the former Socceroos boss has no shortage of options with Brett Emerton, Terry Antonis (both on Socceroos duty) and possibly Alessandro Del Piero (hamstring) all available for selection. It will be interesting to see how many changes Farina does make to his line-up given their rare success in Wellington. The Wanderers also have in-form midfielder Aaron Mooy back after a strong showing at the East Asian Cup qualifiers.
The big issue: Sydney - There often is an immediate reaction when a new coach comes into a club but the real test for the Sky Blues squad will be backing it up this weekend. There can often be a letdown the week after such a huge win and Farina will need to ensure his players can get themselves up again for another crucial match. The fact it's a derby and there will be a big home crowd should make his job a little easier and Sydney will move level on points with their local rivals with a win.
Wanderers - They need to get more out of import striker Dino Kresinger. The big Croatian has struggled to make an impact this season - so much so that the home fans booed when he was brought on as a late substitute against Brisbane last weekend. Kresinger responded by winning the penalty which won the game for the Wanderers. But he will need to reproduce that form if he is to get the fans off his back and also to help the competition new-boys get the goals to stay in the top six.
The game breaker: Jason Culina - It should come as little surprise that Sydney's first win in six games coincided with Culina's first start of the season. The former Socceroos midfielder, who had almost two years out of the game with a knee injury, is slowly building towards being able to play for 90 minutes. Just over an hour last weekend was enough to stamp his class on the game, setting up Sydney's opening goal and also controlling the tempo of the game with his passing. Culina is vital to Sydney's chances of resurrecting their season and if he can build a combination with Del Piero, the Sky Blues will become an extremely dangerous proposition.
Prediction: Sydney FC 2-1 Wanderers The Sky Blues claimed early bragging rights in this fixture with a 1-0 win back in round three but the Wanderers should possess an even stiffer challenge this time around. Not only are they six places ahead of their 'big brother' but Tony Popovic's side also possess the meanest defence in the A-League. But there's been an immediate improvement by Sydney since Farina's arrival and last week's victory, plus the returns of Emerton, Antonis and possibly Del Piero, should give the home side enough firepower to continue their recent resurgence.