A-League Preview: Depleted Sydney ready for Victory
Sydney FC will be without centre-backs Nikola Petkovic and Jacques Faty for Saturday's showdown with rivals Melbourne Victory but coach Graham Arnold is confident he has the quality in depth to deal with the losses.
Petkovic and Faty will sit out the round 17 visit of Victory to Allianz Stadium after both players were sent off during Sydney's 3-1 win over A-League leaders Perth Glory last week.
The dismissals in Perth dampened an otherwise successful night for Sydney, who consolidated fifth spot and moved within eight points of Glory.
Sebastian Ryall and Matthew Jurman are set to replace Petkovic and Faty at the heart of Sydney's defence.
And Arnold believes Sydney have enough depth as they look to end a run of five games without a win on home soil.
"Yes, we lose quality stoppers but it's a big chance for two players with a lot of A-League experience, and both of whom have won a couple of championships," Arnold said following Saturday's win.
"We'll need more of the same against Victory but we also need a big crowd to help us improve our home form.
"Away, we're unbeaten, and if our home form picks up then anything is possible. We've got two home games coming up and most of all I'm looking for consistency."
Sydney, however, will be against it when they host second-placed Victory.
Victory moved to within a point of top spot courtesy of a comfortable 3-0 victory over rivals Melbourne City on Saturday.
Sydney and Victory have played out three consecutive draws since the latter claimed a last-gasp 2-1 win in April last year.
Top-four hopefuls Wellington Phoenix are also in action on Saturday as they entertain City.
Fourth-placed Phoenix were beaten 2-0 by Western Sydney Wanderers last week.
But after two consecutive defeats on the road, Phoenix are back in New Zealand at Hutt Recreational Ground.
Leading into Saturday's fixture, coach Ernie Merrick revealed he is in talks with the club regarding a new deal.
"I've only just started having those discussions but I am enjoying Wellington and want to stay," Merrick said."I think, and hope, the board feels the same way."
The match is vital to City's finals chances, after their derby loss to Victory left them just a solitary point clear of in-form defending champions Brisbane Roar.
Saturday's other fixture sees Newcastle Jets and the Wanderers go head-to-head at Hunter Stadium.
Brisbane open the round at Central Coast Mariners on Friday on the back of successive wins.
The Mariners, who lost talented forward Mitch Duke to J.League side Shimizu S Pulse mid-week, stunned high-flying Adelaide United 2-1 last week.
Meanwhile, Adelaide and Perth complete the round at Coopers Stadium on Sunday.