Preview: Sydney FC v Wellington Phoenix

These two sides are propping up the ladder. which means a victory is vital for both, while a loss would prove almost fatal to their finals chances.

Date: Saturday, January 19, 2013 Kick-off: 5.30pm AEDT Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Head-to-head: Played 19: Wins: Sydney 9, Wellington 9, Draws: 1

Previous encounter: Wellington 1-2 Sydney FC, December 9, 2012

Form: Past five matches: Sydney FC: LWLDW Phoenix: DWLLL

The Game: These two sides are propping up the rest of the A-League competition which means a victory is vital for both, while a loss would prove almost fatal to their finals chances.

Ninth-placed Sydney at least come into this encounter in winning form, having come from behind to snatch a 2-1 win over the Melbourne Heart last weekend. Experienced striker Joel Griffiths is finally available after joining the club last month and he could be drafted straight into the starting line-up.

There was bad news for defender Pascal Bosschaart this week, with the Dutchman ruled out for the rest of the season due to a heel injury. The Phoenix are in their worst run of form in recent memory, last Sunday's 2-0 home loss to Western Sydney the club's third on the trot.

Ricki Herbert's side are badly missing the likes of Paul Ifill and Manny Muscat and will be desperate to get the pair back on the pitch as soon as possible. These sides have already met twice this season for one win apiece, with the Sky Blues clinching the most recent game 2-1 in Wellington in what was coach Frank Farina's first victory.

The Big Issue Sydney: The club was quick to say it was a non-issue and they had moved on but the on-field spat between Alessandro Del Piero and Ali Abbas is something Farina needs to ensure he gets on top of stamps out for good.

There is nothing wrong with players showing disappointment at themselves or with each other if things are going wrong but if it's allowed to fester for a while it will do no good for team morale or performance.

Wellington: Ricki Herbert has done a superb job with Wellington in the last few seasons but the experienced coach faces a huge challenge in coming weeks.

Confidence must be at an all-time low among the players who have lost three games on the trot and propping up the rest of the competition. Herbert needs to ensure the side get that confidence and enjoyment back in their game before it's too late.

The Gamebreaker Brett Emerton: The Socceroos midfielder has struggled for consistency this season but with some important matches to come, expect Emerton to lift his game. The 33-year-old has already showed how important he is to Sydney's chances of resurrecting their season, scoring vital goals in both of the club's last two home matches.

Prediction: Sydney 2-0 Phoenix There may still be 10 games to go after this one but it's got to the stage where defeat for either side in this clash would just about end their finals hopes.

Farina said last week his side had to win their next two home games to stay alive and after (just) seeing off the Heart they will be confident of completing that goal. There is never too much between these two sides as the head-to-head record suggests but with Sydney now having a formidable focal point in attack it should give them the edge.