Sydney FC and the Central Coast Mariners will go head to head in an all New South Wales clash as the A-League hits Round 10.
The teams head to Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday with very different reasons to go for glory. Sydney need a win to keep their momentum going at the top of the table, while the Mariners will be looking for a win to lift them off the bottom of the table.
Sydney FC have been in red-hot form in recent weeks and have extended their winning streak to five games. Their last loss was in the Sydney derby, while they also managed to win their first two games before the derby, meaning they have won eight and only lost one coming into this fixture.
They currently sit first in the table with 21 points and have extended their lead from second-placed Melbourne City to five points. They will be looking to keep that lead at five points or maybe even more.
In terms of statistics, they have scored the most goals with 21, which is five more than Melbourne City in second. They also have the highest conversion rate with 22 per cent, scoring 21 in just 120 shots. In defence, they have let in the fewest goals, having only conceded eight. But still, they only have one clean sheet to their name.
There has been a lot more speculation about where Milos Ninkovic’s future lies, but Steve Corica has assured the media and fans that it isn’t affecting his play or the team’s mentality. Corica has stated that the star Serbian’s future should be decided within the next week but he doesn’t know which way Sydney’s number ten is leaning.
Sydney FC are still without Brandon O’Neill for this clash, as he is still out with his knee niggle. However, in good news, Sydney FC’s starting left back Michael Zullo has returned from another injury that he has been nursing, but most likely won’t be thrust into the starting team considering the frequency of his injuries, as well as the depth Sydney have at left back, with both Joel King and Paulo Retre fit to play there.
Brandon O’Neill’s injury will most likely see Retre remain in O’Neill’s place, which will give the youngster Joel King another chance to show his worth at left back.
Sydney FC predicted line-up
GK: Andrew Redmayne
LB: Michael Zullo
CB: Alex Wilkinson
CB: Ryan McGowan
RB: Rhyan Grant
CDM: Paulo Retre
CDM: Luke Brattan
LAM: Milos Ninkovic
RAM: Alex Baumjohann
ST: Adam Le Fondre
ST: Kosta Barbarouses
Central Coast Mariners
The Mariners haven’t had the best of starts to their season but will be happy with the number of points they have taken in the first nine games when you compare it to last season. The Mariners may be in last place, but with the table being so close, a win could see them jump into a finals position. They have registered seven points so far this season, and in their last three have lost two against Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar, but also beat Western United.
The Mariners have the least amount of goals in the league, registering seven in their seven matches so far. They have scored in every match except for one, when they fell to a 2-0 loss against the Brisbane Roar.
In terms of the squad, the Mariners have both positives as well as negatives. They have lost their number nine Jordan Murray to a concussion but have five players returning. Michael McGlinchey, Dylan Fox, Ruon Tongyik and Dylan Ruiz-Diaz have all been promoted, while Jair Britto has been included in the squad for the first time this season and could make his debut for the Mariners.
However, I doubt he will be fit enough to start, and will most likely be seen in action coming off the bench. Milan Duric is also in the squad and could start in this clash.
Central Coast Mariners predicted line-up
GK: Mark Birighitti
LB: Jack Clisby
CB: Kye Rowles
CB: Ziggy Gordon
RB: Lewis Miller
CDM: Kim Eun-sun
CDM: Gianni Stensness
LM: Daniel De Silva
CAM: Milan Duric
RM: Tommy Oar
ST: Matthew Simon
Although many people are predicting Sydney FC to ease through this game, it may not be what it appears to be. The Mariners have been known to put up fights in games where they may have already been written off, and they could very well steal a point or maybe even more.