Wanderers v Sydney FC: 3 key match ups

The Sky Blues may have dominated the Sydney Derby of late but this is a different Wanderers outfit heading into Saturday night’s clash at Pirtek.

Tony Popovic’s side are three points and two places ahead of Arnie’s Army and will have a heaving Wanderland behind them as they look for city bragging rights.

Here are the three pivotal match-ups likely to decide the outcome on what will be another special night for the Harbour City and Hyundai A-League.

Wanderers holding midfielder Dimas Delgado v Sky Blues playmaker Milos Ninkovic

Who can forget Ninkovic’s stunning late goal to give Sydney FC a late win in this season’s first derby?

It was a cool, clean strike by the Serbian and an early snapshot of just how good he can be for the Sky Blues.

The bad news for the Wanderers is Ninkovic has improved markedly since then, especially since being shifted into the more central number 10 role by Arnold in recent weeks.

He scored twice in the draw with City a fortnight ago and backed that up with a classy assist in the win over Newcastle on the weekend, earning him a spot in the A-League Team of the Week.

Ninkovic gets on the ball more regularly now and can hurt opposition sides all over the pitch, rather than being shoe-horned on the left.

But the Wanderers imports have arguably been even more impressive and in Dimas they have a special Spaniard.

While midfield compatriot Andreu has received more of the headlines, Dimas has been equally important to the Wanderers success.

Not only comfortable on the ball and an accomplished passer, it’s what he does without possession which is key for Popovic’s troops.

In 13 games this season he’s made 34 tackles, 28 interceptions and eight clearances. Pretty impressive stuff.

He’ll need more of that to halt the influence of Ninkovic in what will be a high-quality match-up between these two Euro stars.

Milos Ninkovic

Wanderers striker Federico Piovaccari and Sky Blues defender Matt Jurman

After a slow start to his time in the A-League, Piovaccari appears to be getting stronger every week as he gets more comfortable in his new surrounds.

The powerfully-built striker loves a scrap and will throw his considerable frame into everything against the Sky Blues defence.

While he has managed just two goals for the season so far, you get a sense he’s not far away from a real flurry of goals. Sydney FC, you have been warned.

A goal against his club's massive rivals would ensure cult hero status for Piovaccari for the rest of the season (and cool talk of his poor return thus far).

The man trying to stop him at Pirtek will be the Sky Blues unsung hero Jurman.

The 26-year-old has been a model of consistency over the last 12 months for Sydney, with coach Graham Arnold knowing he can trust Jurman to get the job done with a minimum of fuss.

And the stats show he has been among the competition’s best defenders this season.

He is second for most clearances with 52 (behind Wellington’s Andrew Durante 54) and second for interceptions with 63 (Mariners Nick Montgomery has 66).

This one-on-one battle won’t be for the faint of heart and is sure to be physical as each strives to get the upper hand.

Wanderers left-back Scott Jamieson v Sydney marquee man Filip Holosko

For all the talk of Holosko not being able to fill the boots of last year’s marquee Marc Janko, the stats tell a different story.

Holosko, a right-winger all season, has five goals so far this campaign, more than Janko at the corresponding point of last season.

With three assists as well, the Slovakian is coming to the boil nicely as the season progresses.

And with Alex Brosque and Andrew Hoole absent for this one, he will be needed big time to provide an attacking spark for the Sky Blues.

The visitors will look to use his pace and power in behind the Wanderers defence whenever they can.

Holosko will come up against a defender this week though who is at the top of his game.

Jamieson – an ex-Sky Blue – has been a model of consistency in 2015/16 and a huge factor in the Wanderers improvement from last season.

He not only keeps a tight, defensive shape in the back four but has the energy and stamina to get forward for 90 minutes.

“Jamo” has four assists for the campaign, pretty good for a left-back. But he’ll need to be on his mettle at both ends in this one.

It was honours even between this pair back in round three and whoever has the better time of it on Saturday might just give their side the edge.