Sydney FC need to avoid defeat against Wellington Phoenix on Sunday at Allianz Stadium if they are to hold on to their place in the top four on the A-League ladder. The Phoenix are just a point behind the Sky Blues in fifth place and in Nathan Burns they have the league’s top scorer in red hot form.
Sydney coach Graham Arnold believes his side need to “toughen up” in order to maintain their title challenge. This is in response to recent physical encounters in away games against Western Sydney and Melbourne Victory, although it is worth noting that his side fought back from losing positions in both games to secure two draws.
It is well known that Sydney are light on options in midfield following season ending injuries to Ali Abbas, Nick Carle and Corey Gameiro. With the transfer window not opening until close to the break for the Asian Cup the Sky Blues will have to navigate their way through the next few games with what they have.
Wellington are in great form this season, and are looking to extend their unbeaten run to five games. They have notched an impressive number of goals this term, with Burns backed up by the likes of Roy Krishna and Michael McGlinchey.
Phoenix showed glimpses of their quality in the middle third of Ernie Merrick’s first season, but a terrible beginning and end to the campaign cost them dear. They now appear to be able to produce performances consistently enough to maintain a place in the finals spots.
Goals are a guarantee when these two sides meet at Allianz Stadium. An average of four goals a game have been scored in this fixture lately, with Sydney FC usually providing the majority – including a club record 7-1 victory in 2013.
Sunday 21st December, Allianz Stadium 17:00
Sydney FC v Wellington Phoenix
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