A-League preview: Central Coast Mariners v Sydney
Will Graham Arnold, upset over a few taunts from his former employers this week, get one over his old club on his first return to the Coast?
Saturday, 24 January 2015
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Kick-Off: 7.30pm (Local) (7.30pm AEDT)
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Central Coast Mariners 1.Matthew NASH (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Zac ANDERSON, 7.John HUTCHINSON (c), 8.Nick MONTGOMERY, 9.Mitchell DUKE, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Nick FITZGERALD, 12.Liam REDDY (Gk), 14.Travis MAJOR, 15.Matt SIM, 17.Richard VERNES, 18.Glen TRIFIRO, 19.Matt SIMON, 23.Isaka CERNAK, 25.Eddy BOSNAR ***two to be omitted***
Ins 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (returns from injury), 19.Matt SIMON (returns from injury)
Unavailable 21.Michael NEILL (foot – indefinite)
Sydney FC 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2. Seb RYALL, 4.Pedj BOJIC, 5. Matt JURMAN, 6.Nikola PETKOVIC, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 11.Bernie IBINI, 13.Christopher NAUMOFF, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 16.Alex GERSBACH, 18.Peter TRIANTIS, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 21.Mark JANKO, 23. Rhyan GRANT, 26. Jacques FATY, 27. Mickael TAVARES, 34. Robert STAMBOLZIEV. ***two to be omitted***
Ins 26. Jacques FATY (new signing), 27. Mickael TAVARES (new signing), 34. Robert STAMBOLZIEV (new signing), 5. Matt JURMAN (return from illness).
Outs 12. Hagi GLIGOR (return to NYL), 29. George BLACKWOOD, (return to NYL)
Unavailable 7.Corey GAMEIRO (knee – indefinite), 22.Ali ABBAS (knee – indefinite), 19. Nick CARLE (knee – indefinite), 3.Sasa OGNENOVSKI (hip - indefinite). 17. Terry ANTONIS (International Duty).
TV – Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.30pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 1 (New Zealand)
Radio – 92.5 ABC Central Coast, 702 ABC Sydney & ABC Local Radio NSW, Grandstand Digital Sydney, Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app, Coast FM (Central Coast)
Always a spirited clash between these two NSW rivals, this promises to have a bit more spice as Graham Arnold returns to the Central Coast for the first time since swapping Gosford for Moore Park. Given the success the newly married Arnold brought to the Coast, it’s hard to see the Mariners fans have too much animosity for their former boss although the club certainly wasn’t backwards at taking a dig at Arnold this week, still upset he took the “cash” to join the Sky Blues. And despite the gap between the two sides in terms of league position and budget, the Mariners can’t be discounted from taking all three points, especially given their strong record in Gosford against Sydney FC. There’s also been good news for the Mariners in the build up to this clash with the two Nicks – Montgomery and Fitzgerald – joining Josh Rose in inking new two-year deals. And Montgomery is one of two big inclusions for the Mariners, returning from injury alongside striker Matt Simon. Arnold has included all three of his new signings in his squad, with cousins Tavares and Faty both likely to be thrust straight into the starting line-up.
OPTA DATA STATS
-Mitchell Duke has scored all the goals in both of the Mariners’ wins this season (1-0 vs Newcastle Jets, 2-0 vs Melbourne City). They’re currently his only three goals of the campaign.
-Sydney FC has not won at the Mariners home ground in eight attempts (D3 L5), the last win a 3-2 victory in August 2008.
No side has kept more clean sheets than Sydney FC this season (6).
ROUTE TO GOAL
Sydney have found goals hard to come by of late, failing to find the back of the net in any of their last four matches, spanning more than six hours of play. Without Terry Antonis on Socceroos duty and with new signing Mickael Tavares to come in, Arnold could deploy Milos Dimitrijevic in the “No.10” role in behind Marc Janko. The Serbian has been one of the Sky Blues’ most impressive players this season and his presence and creativity could be crucial to ending their goal-scoring woes. Mariners striker Mitchell Duke bagged a brace in their last match and it will be interesting to see if Moss sticks with him in that role, or shifts him back to the wing to accommodate the return of Matt Simon. Either way, the duo provides a powerful strike-force Sydney’s defensive could find hard to handle.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Sydney’s new boys Mickael Tavares and Jacques Faty. The Senegalese duo – who are actually cousins – add some quality and experience to a Sky Blues squad that have struggled with a mounting injury toll. Tavares and Faty have had a good block of training with Sydney during the break and are likely to come straight into the starting side for this clash. If Sydney are to end their winless run they will need the pair to settle immediately and fit into the style and culture of the club. They should at least add a bit more steel down the spine of the Sky Blues.
Central Coast finally snapped their long winless run at 12 games with their 2-0 win over Melbourne City before the break. With two draws before that the Mariners are unbeaten in three matches and appear to be on the way up, which is vital for the side’s confidence especially with an ACL campaign to start early next month. Sydney have lost touch with the top four sides due to a horror run of form which has seen them go without a win in their last seven games. Back-to-back 0-0 draws against Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets respectively before the break weren’t what Arnold would have wanted but was perhaps understandable given their long injury toll. The two sides have already met once this season with Sydney FC running out 2-0 winners at home in round 4 in November.
DID YOU KNOW?
New Sydney FC signing Jacques Faty was a team-mate of Sky Blues midfielder Milos Dimitrijevic when the pair were teenagers. Both were members of the under-18 national team youth squad with France before Dimitrijevic decided to switch his allegiance to the country of his birth, Serbia.
Central Coast Mariners 1-2 Sydney FC
Given the tough first part of the season and gruelling festive period all club’s went through, it will be interesting to see how both of these sides used the three-week hiatus to recharge for the finals run-in. It’s that reason that makes this always keenly-fought contest even harder to predict. While the Mariners showed marginally better form before the break than Sydney, the visitors have strengthened their squad significantly. A number of the Sky Blues’ squad will have had the chance to get a few of their bumps and bruises healed and their superior quality in key areas might just be enough to get them a result here…but it will be tight.