Two sides neck and neck on the ladder meet in Sydney for what promises to be fantastic summer football fare as Phoenix visit the home of Graham Arnold's Sky Blues on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday, 21 December 2014
Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-Off: 5pm (Local) (5pm AEDT)
Sydney FC 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Seb RYALL, 3.Sasa OGNENOVSKI, 4.Pedj BOJIC, 6.Nikola PETKOVIC, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 11.Bernie IBINI, 12 Hagi GLIGOR, 13.Christopher NAUMOFF, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 16.Alex GERSBACH, 17.Terry ANTONIS, 18.Peter TRIANTIS, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 21.Mark JANKO, 23. Rhyan GRANT, 25. Aaron CALVER.
***two to be omitted***
Ins 3.Sasa OGNENOVSKI (return from injury), 13. Christopher NAUMOFF (promoted), 12 Hagi GLIGOR (promoted)
Outs Nick CARLE (knee – indefinite)
Unavailable 7.Corey GAMEIRO (knee – indefinite), 22.Ali ABBAS (knee – indefinite), 5. Matt JURMAN (illness)
Wellington Phoenix 1. Glen MOSS (GK), 4. Roly BONEVACIA, 5. Michael BOXALL, 7, Kenny CUNNINGHAM, 8. Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9. Nathan BURNS, 10. Michael McGLINCHEY, 11. Jeremy BROCKIE, 12. Tyler BOYD, 13. Albert RIERA, 14. Alex RUFER, 16. Louis FENTON, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 19. Tom DOYLE, 20. Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 21. Roy KRISHNA, 22. Andrew DURANTE (capt), 23. Matthew RIDENTON
***two to be omitted***
Ins 12. Tyler BOYD (promoted), 23. Matthew RIDENTON (promoted).
Out 2. Manny MUSCAT (suspended)
Unavailable 2. Manny MUSCAT (suspended 2 games), 17. Vince LIA (hamstring injury 2-3 weeks).
TV - Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 9.45pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 2 (New Zealand)
Radio - Grandstand Online / ABC Radio Mobile phone app, (If cricket coverage is over 702 ABC Sydney & ABC Local Radio NSW & Grandstand Digital)
Referee Shaun Evans
Assistant Referee 1 Allyson Flynn
Assistant Referee 2 Ryan Gallagher
Fourth Official Matthew Cropper
Both sides have made impressive starts to the campaign and this looms as a crucial clash with victory paramount if they hope to keep in touch with the Hyundai A-League’s top three.
Sydney head into the match one point ahead of Phoenix and also enjoy a strong recent record against Phoenix in the Harbour city.
But Graham Arnold has a mini-injury crisis on his hands, with Nick Carle joining Ali Abbas and Corey Gameiro on the long-term injury list.
And with Nathan Burns, Roy Krishna and Roly Bonevacia playing superbly of late, Phoenix will fancy their chances of taking a big scalp on the road.
Sky Blues coach Graham Arnold will be hoping defender Sasa Ognenovski can finally shake off his hip problem to return after missing the last three games.
The ex-Socceroos hard-man has been named in the squad but will have to pass a fitness test to play. Chris Naumoff and Hagi Gligor have been added to the squad with the latter likely to make the bench in place of the injured Nick Carle.
Ernie Merrick is also forced into at least one change with Manny Muscat to start a two-game suspension. Michael Boxall is the obvious replacement at right back.
OPTA DATA STATS
-Sydney FC have failed to win any of their last two Hyundai A-League games at home (D1 L1).
-The Sky Blues have won their last three home Hyundai A-League games against Wellington, scoring 13 goals in the process.
-Wellington has scored exactly one goal in each of their last five Hyundai A-League games against Sydney; however they’ve won just one of these.
ROUTE TO GOAL
There was a belief at the start of the season that Sky Blue duo Marc Janko and Shane Smeltz might struggle to play together in the same side.
Last week’s clash with Victory dispelled those thoughts, with the pair combining brilliantly. Smeltz scored twice and set up Janko’s goal to prove their combination is catching fire.
Flyer Roy Krishna is Phoenix’s main man at the moment, scoring in the last four matches and he will need to be shut down by the Sydney defence, which has kept a league-high four clean-sheets so far this season.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Sydney FC medical staff. The Sky Blues doctors have been incredibly overworked in recent weeks with Ali Abbas, Corey Gamiero and now Nick Carle all suffering season-ending injuries.
Sydney’s squad is being stretched to their limit and the medical staff will have to be at their best to keep the players Arnold does have available fit and in shape for the grueling festive period before they can bring in some cover in January.
Sydney have had a strong start to the season, losing just once including a thrilling 3-3 draw with Melbourne Victory last weekend. But the Sky Blues have struggled to produce victories of late, winning just one of their last six games with four draws and a loss. Phoenix were held to a 1-1 draw by Central Coast last time out in the slightly unfamiliar surrounds of Auckland, making it three games unbeaten for Ernie Merrick’s side.
DID YOU KNOW?
Wellington’s Nathan Burns has been involved in 10 of their 19 goals this season (eight goals two assists). No player has been involved in more.
Sydney FC 2-1 Wellington Phoenix
This has all the makings of a pre-Christmas cracker. Phoenix haven’t had a happy time of it in Sydney but head over with a squad in-form, full of confidence and seemingly over their road woes. The Sky Blues depth will be severely tested until Arnold can bring in reinforcements in January but they will want to make sure they make up for a loss in the previous home match against Perth. Two evenly matched sides set to rock Allianz with some top-class football.