It promises to be epic when league-leaders Sydney FC host second-placed Melbourne City at iconic ANZ Stadium in Harvey Norman Friday Night Football. How do the their stats compare?
After a pulsating Westfield FFA Cup final last week – won 1-0 by City – the Sky Blues will want immediate retribution at ANZ Stadium.
Graham Arnold’s side are unbeaten through the opening nine rounds to sit six points clear of City at the top of the ladder.
But as we saw in the Cup decider there’s not much between the two sides, with star power, speed and quality flowing through both squads.
So who will have the edge on Friday night? We break down a few key stats, courtesy of Opta Data.
FIXTURE HISTORY AND FORM?
John van ‘t Schip’s City side has dominated this fixture over the last couple of seasons, unbeaten in their last four Hyundai A-League clashes against the Sky Blues.
Throw in the victory in the Westfield FFA Cup final and its five matches, with three of those wins for City.
But the Sky Blues have an ominous home record of late.
Sydney are unbeaten in their last five games on home soil, with four of those victories, and have conceded only two goals in the process and scoring 14.
While this clash is at ANZ Stadium – and not regular home ground Allianz – they also have an excellent record at the Olympic Stadium.
The Sky Blues have played three competitive games at the venue, winning all three, including their epic 4-0 drubbing of Western Sydney Wanderers in the derby in front of a record crowd in Round 1 this season.
Although it’s been almost three years since Sydney last beat City on home soil, a 2-1 triumph in late December 2013.
STRONG STARTERS OR LATE FINISHERS?
The home side will need to be wary of a fast-start from City, who have proved themselves to be the kings of first halves in the 2016/17 Season.
No side has scored more goals in the first 45 minutes as City’s eight.
Conversely, Sydney’s fitness has seen them finish games stronger than any other team.
Of the Sky Blues’ 20 goals in the opening nine rounds, eight of them have come in the last 20 minutes.
When it comes to shooting accuracy, City leads the Hyundai A-League with 49.4% of their shots on target, while Sydney ranks only eighth in this category (43.1%).
City skipper Bruno Fornaroli looms as the dangerman for Sydney FC, with the Uruguayan leading the scoring charts [alongside Perth’s Andy Keogh] with seven goals.
While Fornaroli is deadly with the ball at his feet, he’s also excellent in the air with three of his five headed attempts on target which is the equal most of any player in the league.
Sydney FC right-back Rhyan Grant has been superb this season both in defence and getting forward.
In fact, the 25-year-old has hit the woodwork more than any other play in the Hyundai A-League. Of Grant’s 11 attempts on goal, three have hit the woodwork.