A tale of two cities

It’s chalk and cheese in the form book but how will things unfold in the seventeenth Sydney Derby?

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As Sydney Derbies go, this could be one of the most pivotal yet.

There’s always plenty on the line when these two clash but given the context of the season, there will be a few feeling the pressure at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.

On the Red & Black side sits the Wanderers who perhaps have more to play for given their sluggish start to the season and recent run of results.

Having won their opening fixture against Perth Glory, the Wanderers would go on a frustrating five-game drawing streak – the 2-2 draw against Sydney being the second in that stretch.

bonevacia


After last week’s loss to Brisbane, the Wanderers now sit precariously outside the top six, though will be somewhat comforted by their game in hand against Wellington.

Despite the recent setbacks, Gombau says he feels that things are beginning to come together.

"I think we are close," he said.

"There are a lot of things the players need to develop ... I am happy with them, they are trying everything and working hard.

"The results are not coming. If someone thinks that in three games we can change the way we play, they don't understand how difficult it is to change things in football.

"It's a process... it's something that will require time."

Gombau


While the Red & Black have stagnated since Sydney Derby XVI, Sydney FC have gone from strength to strength.

They sit comfortably in top spot, five points ahead of the second-placed Newcastle Jets and come into this match on the back of a four-match winning run after their 1-0 win over Adelaide last week. 

They’ve overcome player departures and navigated recent injury woes to re-affirm themselves as the team to beat this season.

A win on Saturday night could push them further out in front yet should they suffer a defeat, they’ll be dragged back towards the pack.

Arnold


Coming into Saturday night's match, Graham Arnold knows that his side will have to find another level.

"There's a lot more work to do,” said Arnold.

“Of what I see at training compared to games I don’t even think we’re halfway there.

“My job is to try and get that out of them and we will get that out of them as time goes on.”

Saturday night might represent a seemingly tough ask for Josep Gombau’s men but they will be by their performance in the last Derby, where they were arguably the better side for most of the match.

sydney derby


It was a match where either side would’ve felt they should’ve taken all three points but the Wanderers more so were left ruing what could’ve been having surrendered a two-goal lead.

The Wanderers will be boosted by the return of captain Robbie Cornthwaite, who skippered the side in last year’s 1-0 win over Sydney FC – their first since January 2014.

Brendon Santalab was the difference that night and he could well be the focal point of the Wanderers’ attack once more should leading scorer Oriol Riera not take to the field.

If he does manage to find the net on Saturday night, Santalab could well become the Sydney Derby’s top scorer of all-time – no player has scored three goals in the fixture.