New Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold comes up against his former side for the first time on Sunday at Allianz Stadium. Despite Arnold leading them to a Grand Final victory during his time in Gosford, Central Coast Mariners fans would dearly love to notch a win against their old boss.
Former Mariners players Bernie Ibini and Pedj Bojic could also line up against their old team. Bojic may be forced to the bench if Nikola Petkovic – as expected – comes straight back from suspension into central defence, with Seb Ryall moving out to right back.
The Sky Blues have made their best start to an A-League campaign since their last championship win in 2009/10. They can also call upon the services of one of the A-League’s sharpest forwards with Shane Smeltz available following a calf injury.
Usually in situations like this you expect the former coach to benefit from insider knowledge of his old team. However, such has been the turnover of players since their title win there are plenty of fresh challenges posed by the Mariners for Arnold to work around.
The Mariners are virtually at full strength with the return of forward Matt Simon leaving Brent Griffiths as the only long term injury concern. Their opening day win in dramatic circumstances against Newcastle was a morale boost, as has been their FFA Cup run. However, after a disappointing loss at home to Wellington in round two Phil Moss will hope that a weekend off last week will have sufficiently freshened up his side.
Central Coast have a good record at Allianz Stadium – including their Grand final win over the Wanderers in 2013 – and also won all three games against Sydney FC last season. It has been a case of win or bust for the Mariners of late, they are without a draw in their last 17 games.
Sunday 2nd November, Allianz Stadium Moore Park
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