Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has cranked up the mind games ahead of Saturday’s A-League derby, claiming the Western Sydney Wanderers will have one eye on the Asian Champions League final.
The Wanderers slumped to the heaviest defeat in their history last Friday when they went down 4-1 to Melbourne Victory and Arnold questioned whether their focus was on the game or their ACL first-leg clash with Al-Hilal on October 25.
“I’ve been in those positions before and it’s a big distraction,” Arnold said.
“Knowing you have a huge game in front of you, players don’t want to get injured and miss those types of occasions.
“As Tony Popovic said it was a bad day at the office, they hadn’t conceded four goals before and are a very strong, well coached side.
“Was last week a one-off or was it because they had one eye on the Champions League? I’ll guess we’ll find out.”
Arnold claimed last week that the Sky Blues were still the biggest club in town, despite their Sydney rivals’ outstanding success over the last two years.
Sydney FC failed to secure a win last week against Melbourne City, despite scoring the first goal.
Star recruit David Villa made sure that his début on Australian soil would be remembered, and kicked a second half goal for City, leaving Sydney fans desperate to see their team score once again in the dying minutes of the game.
That leaves the two on equal points sitting side by side each other on the ladder.
Melbourne City have a home game this time, and will welcome Newcastle Jets to AMMI Park on Sunday. The Jets faltered in their opening match, succumbing to Central Coast Mariners 1-0.
The Mariners take on Wellington Phoenix, who disappointed their local fans after a travelling Perth Glory got the one up, getting two goals past their one.
2013/14 Champions Brisbane Roar have a tough match to come off the back of a 1-2 loss at home to a ferocious Adelaide United.
They travel to Perth on Saturday to take on a Glory desperately hoping to turn around their last season’s woes and dominate the top of the ladder.