Preview: Sydney FC v Gold Coast

Both coaches have said this is a must-win clash for their respective sides which should mean a whole-hearted and competitive contest.

Date: Sunday, January 22 Kick-off: 5pm AEDT, 5pm local Venue: Sydney Football Stadium

Head-to-head Played 8: Wins: Sydney FC 2, Gold Coast 4, Draws: 2

Previous encounter Gold Coast 0, Sydney FC 0, December , 2011

History: The last meeting between these two sides saw Sydney claim their first point on the Gold Coast in a dour 0-0 draw. The Sky Blues have only won twice in eight games in this fixture with one of those coming earlier this season. It was a controversial match with Sydney coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2 thanks to a late and highly-contentious Karol Kisel penalty. The aftermath saw Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg slam the 'homey' referee, which led him to copping a fine and suspension.

Form: Past five matches: Sydney: LLLLD Gold Coast: WDLDL

Sydney put an end to their four-game losing streak with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Perth Glory at Campbelltown on Wednesday afternoon. Just like in their loss to the Roar, the Sky Blues led for most of the game before conceding a late equaliser. But the positive is they stopped the rot and now have something to build on heading into this clash.

The Gold Coast may be propping up the rest of the Hyundai A-League but they are certainly playing much better than their position suggests. The loss to Wellington last Sunday was just their second defeat in their last seven games. But in truth Bleiberg's side deserved at least a point from that match, with a number of wonderful chances squandered. If those start going in they'll win plenty of games and start to move up the table.

Match Committee: Good news for Sydney, with experienced centre back Pascal Bosschaart available again after serving a suspension in the game against Perth. He is likely to come straight back into the starting side although Sebastian Ryall did a good job in the Dutchman's absence. Besides that Sydney are basically at full strength with everyone in their squad available for selection.

The Gold Coast received another blow this week with confirmation striker Dylan Macallister will miss the next six weeks with a hamstring injury. In his absence the onus will fall on Maceo Rigters, Ben Halloran and James Brown to supply the goals. Macallister joins goalkeeper Glen Moss (adductor), and strikers Chris Broadfoot (ankle) and Joel Porter (calf) as long-term absentees. Dutchman Paul Beekmans will also miss this encounter, after being granted personal leave to return to the Netherlands after a family members suffered an illness.

Danger men: Mark Bridge - After a quiet start to the season Bridge is finally starting to hit his straps. The 26-year-old followed up his strike against Brisbane last weekend with another against the Glory midweek and his combination with Nick Carle in the front third is starting to thrive. When Bridge is on his game Sydney are a much more dangerous proposition and he'll need to be on his game to get any joy out of the likes of Michael Thwaite and Kristian Rees.

Maceo Rigters - There hasn't been a lot of goals of late for the powerful Dutchman but he still possesses plenty of threat when on his game. His right boot really packs a punch and if given too much space he can exploit it with his pace. It seems most of his shots have been attracted to the woodwork rather than the back of the net in recent games but if that changes on Sunday, Sydney goal-keeper Liam Reddy will have his work cut out keeping Rigters at bay.

At the end of the day… There should be plenty of desperation from both sides in this one. Sydney haven't tasted a victory in five games and are now under serious threat of losing their spot in the top six. Continued uncertainty over the future of coach Vitezslav Lavicka is another unwanted distraction.

Sydney's home form has been a real problem for them this campaign with only one win from eight games at the SFS. The only good thing about that stat is the victory was against Miron Bleiberg's side back in round 5.

Gold Coast remain four points adrift at the bottom of the ladder and if they are to make a late season surge for the finals then the time to deliver is now.

The side from the Glitter Strip haven't had much luck in recent weeks and really should have more than the 14 points they have picked up so far this season. But the big dilemma continues to be scoring and unless the likes of Rigters, Halloran and Brown start converting their numerous chances into goals then it's hard to see too much changing.

Both coaches have said this is a must-win clash for their respective sides which should mean a whole-hearted and competitive contest. It's hard to mount a strong argument why either side should be favourites to win this one but Sydney's form at home has to improve eventually and it might just be on Sunday.