Saturday, February 20 from 7:30pm at Allianz Stadium, Sydney – watch on Fox Sports
A SOLD out Allianz Stadium plays host to the match of the round this week – the iconic Sydney Derby.
It’s the second-placed Wanderers traveling across town to face the sixth-placed Sky Blues in a battle that both teams need to win after disappointing outings in round 19.
Last week Western Sydney’s lead at the top of the table looked like a formality, given they were facing the one of the worst teams in the league. No one told the lowly Wellington Phoenix though, who shocked the league with an unlikely victory.
The Phoenix had scored just three goals from their last five matches, but they were able to put five beyond the Wanderers in a match that turned the title race on its head.
Western Sydney’s manager Tony Popovic labelled it the ‘worst 90 minutes of (the Wanderer’s) season’.
“Overall, probably as a unit, as a collective, it was our worst 90 in terms of how we defended,” Popovic said in the aftermath of the 5-2 defeat.
“I haven’t been able to say that this year in most of our matches but we got punished today.”
Despite the heavy loss Popovic remained adamant the loss was an aberration rather than a sign of things to come for his side.
“This one game isn’t going to derail our season. We’ve got to accept it, we’re still in a very healthy position and we’ve got to move on.”
Sydney FC were lacklustre in their home match against the Glory, going down 2-1.
The game was a vital one for the home side.
A top-three finish at the end of the round was within reach if they were successful, but the Sky Blues found themselves two goals down just over an hour into the match.
Striker Shane Smeltz was able to peg the margin back by one goal a little under 20 minutes before the final whistle but the score line remained at 2-1.
Sydney FC manager Graham Arnold pulled no punches in the post-match press conference.
“We have to be honest it wasn’t good enough,” Arnold said.
“I can only say to all the Sydney FC fans, I’m working longer hours than I have ever worked and I’m more determined than ever to fix this.”
Sydney FC have dominated the Derby in recent times, winning five of the last six match ups against their cross-town rivals in an unbeaten run that extends back to 2014.
Odds provided by Sportsbet.com.au
Winner: Western Sydney Wanderers – $2.40
First goal scorer: Mark Bridge – $7.00
Correct score: Western Sydney Wanderers 2 Sydney FC 1 – $9.00
The sold out Sydney Derby is the must-watch match of round 20.
The Wanderers are looking to regain top spot while the Sky Blues are holding on for dear life.
Both teams were shocking last week and will need to improve significantly if they are to register a win at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
Western Sydney midfielder Mitch Nichols believes last week’s shock loss to Wellington will be a catalyst towards victory on Saturday night.
“We made five mistakes and they scored five goals. It’s a wake-up call and we’ve got to get ready for the derby,” Nichols said.
“It’s never nice copping five at home and we had a chance to go top of the table, so we want to rectify that this week at training and be pumped up for the derby.
“You never want to lose to Sydney FC especially letting them get away with the three points last time.”
Defensive lapses cost the Wanderers last Sunday, and no doubt that would have been a focus on the training track throughout the week.
The Sky Blues have experienced a horrible run of form.
Sydney FC’s last win came against the Wanderers all the way back in round 15, something they will take confidence from – but that was a different team mentally to the one that will take to the pitch on Saturday.
They are a team that is out of form and out of ideas in the attacking third.
Expect Western Sydney to turn the tables on their rivals and register their first derby win in seven attempts.
A-League specials and promotions for round 20
WilliamHill is continuing to run their multi insurance across the 20th weekend of A-League.
Place a four or more leg multi across the weekend, and if one leg fails, you get your cash back – up to $50.
Sportsbet are offering cash back up to $100 if your four or more leg multi bet on the A-league this weekend has only one leg that fails.No tags for this post.