Derby matches are always special but the third installment of the all-Sydney clash is huge for a host of different reasons.
Date: Saturday, March 16, 2013 Kick-off: 7.45pm AEDT Venue: Parramatta Stadium, Sydney
Head-to-head: Played: 2 - Wins: Wanderers 1, Sydney 1
Previous encounter: Sydney 0-2, December 15, 2012
Form: Past five matches: Wanderers: WWWWW Sydney FC: WLLWD
The Game Derby matches are always special but the third installment of the all-Sydney clash is huge for a host of different reasons.
While local bragging rights are at stake, Western Sydney could wrap up the Premiers' Plate with a victory while Sydney FC are still scrounging around for points to secure their place in the top six.
The Wanderers may head into the clash on the back of a 10-game winning streak, but they do have a few problems in personnel. Defender Jerome Polenz (quad) and midfielder Aaron Mooy (knee) are both likely to miss out through injury, while lucky charm Youssouf Hersi is suspended. Marquee man Shinji Ono is also battling a hamstring complaint but is expected to play.
The Sky Blues, who played out an entertaining 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory last weekend, remain in fifth spot and could secure their finals berth with a win here.
Frank Farina has no new injury concerns, with his only major decision whether to bring Lucas Neill (calf) back into the side or stick with Adam Griffiths and Tiago Calvano in defence. Skipper Terry McFlynn should also be available again after missing the Victory clash.
The Big Issue Wanderers: Tony Popovic's sided haven't been affected by injury and suspension too much this season but could have very much a new-look side for this one.
With Polenz, Mooy (injured) and Hersi (suspended) all out and with doubts over Shinji Ono (hamstring), the Wanderers could have as many as four first choice players watching from the stands.
While every player called upon this season has done the job, you want your stars on the field in the big end-of-season games and just how much it affects the side's winning runs remains to be seen.
Sydney: The Sky Blues have had an up-and-down season but have kept themselves in the finals race due to their brilliant home form over the last three months.
Unfortunately for Sydney there last two games are on the road and they will need to find a way to eke out a victory if they are to make the top six. Two points from their last seven games on the road tells the story.
The parochial and hostile environment at Wanderland won't make their task any easier but they have at least won at this venue already this season.
The Gamebreaker Labinot Haliti: A month ago Haliti was considered a fill-in or bit-part player at the Wanderers but now he looms as the key man in their quest for a debut championship.
The 28-year-old has scored three goals in the last three games including a double in the record-breaking win over Melbourne Heart last weekend. Haliti offers a different threat to Dino Kresinger and his extra pace and movement could pose a problem for the Sydney back four.
Prediction: Wanderers 1-1 Sydney If recent results count for anything then the Wanderers will wrap this up in a canter. But it's common knowledge that the form guide gets thrown out when it comes to derby matches.
Even with a few key players unavailable, the home side will be confident of keeping their astonishing run going and would love nothing better than to wrap up their first piece of silverware in front of their bitter rivals.
If there is one concern for the Wanderers, Sky Blues star Alessandro Del Piero had an unhappy night against the Victory last weekend and rarely plays two bad games in a row.