The third installment of the Sydney Derby could be the defining game of the season for both sides this Saturday.
Sydney are flying high and look a shoe-in to take out the Premiers’ Plate while Western Sydney are fighting for their lives and struggling to secure a spot in the top six.
Both sides have plenty to play for which makes this latest installment of the Sydney Derby a very fascinating affair.
Sydney FC go into this having handled the Wellington Phoenix 3-1 last week while Western Sydney will be ruing their missed opportunity to register a much-needed win over the Mariners, eventually falling 2-0.
BEST OF THE BEST
Sydney FC are on track to record the best record of any team during the regular season.
The best effort by any team in A-league history through the regular season rounds was Brisbane Roar in 2010-11, when they won 18, drew 11 and lost just once. That was a 30-game season whereas this season will see 27 games played.
Their record which sees them 11 points clear at the top of the table has been established by boasting a rock solid defence. They have only faced 176 shots on their goal all season with just 62 of those on target – no team boasts anywhere that type of stat.
STUTTERING AND STUMBLING
Just when you thought the Wanderers were ready to make a charge at the finals they produce a stinker.
A victory last week over the Mariners would’ve seen them with a three-point break over the rest of the pack chasing the final spot in the top six. Instead, they are now stuck in a four-way dogfight for that position and are on the outside looking in.
Making their task a bit more difficult this week is the fact captain Dimas will be missing through suspension.
Sydney has been Sky Blue for the past three years.
It is incredible to think that Sydney FC hasn’t been beaten by their crosstown rivals in the past nine fixtures.
At this venue back in Round 1, Sydney FC thrashed the Wanderers 4-0 while there was a 0-0 draw the last time they met just a few weeks ago. That game did have a controversial edge to it where the Wanderers had a legitimate case for a penalty turned down.
We cannot see this one ending in a stalemate.
There will be goals but it’s a question of how many. Tony Popovic’s men cannot afford to sit back and play for a point because they need as many wins as they can to try and secure a spot in the top six. Getting draws simply won’t be enough to get them over the line.
Taking that into consideration there should be a bit of space for Sydney FC to exploit. They don’t need much of an invitation to score with the likes of Milos Ninkovic, Alex Brosque, Filip Holosko and Bobo all capable of creating something out of nothing.
Just how the Wanderers will break down the best defence in the league, which is conceding a measly 0.47 goals per game is anyone’s guess. They haven’t exactly been prolific in front of goals with an average of 1.2 goals per game.
Nico Martinez is the key for the Red and Blacks if they are any chance of inflicting a first loss of the season on Sydney. He is clearly the team’s most creative player so if he is allowed the time and space to move, it could be at Sydney FC’s detriment.
Ultimately though it will come down to the one thing that usually settles Derbys – who wants it more?.
THE TIP: SYDNEY FC
TOTAL GOALS OVER/UNDER 2.5: OVER 2.5 – an average of 2.83 goals has been scored in the last six Derbys
1st GOALSCORER: BOBO – has scored the first goal in two of the past six games he has played