Time to claim bragging rights

The day Western Sydney Wanderers was announced to the world as the Hyundai A-League’s 13th club it was evident that a Sydney derby would immediately dominate interest in Australia’s sporting calendar.

It proved as much with fans only having to wait three rounds into the 2012/13 season for the much-hyped, inaugural showdown. Eight matches later with three wins a piece and a 10-9 goal advantage for Wanderers, the ninth meeting is as unpredictable as the first.
 
In a fixture where form is often discounted and passion and adrenaline come to the fore, Saturday’s Sydney Derby is a chance to gain bragging rights as overall leader.
 
With nothing to split the eternal rivals after almost three whole seasons of co-existence, let’s take a look at how it all kicked-off and the captivating clashes that have followed since.
 
Round Three, 20 October 2012: Wanderers’ third competitive A-League match and first sell-out of Pirtek Stadium. The match was a tense affair with few opportunities arising from general play so it was no surprise that the decisive moment proved to be from the penalty spot with Alessandro Del Piero converting on the second attempt after Ante Covic saved his initial penalty.
 
It was the Wanderers’ third consecutive match without scoring and left many wondering whether their first year in the competition will be one of adaptation and slow progress. How things had changed ahead of the second Derby two months later.
 
With the Red & Black exceeding expectations and commanding a top four spot, they came in as heavy favourites to down the bottom-placed Blues at Allianz Stadium. Putting in an exhilarating performance the Wanderers prevailed 2-0. Goals from Youssouf Hersi and Michael Beauchamp either side of half-time added the finishing touches to Shinji Ono’s mesmerising performance in midfield.
 
The team would only lose once more on their way to a Grand Final appearance – a run that culminated in winning the Premiership at the end of the regular season. That streak included a somewhat surprising 1-1 draw in the third Sydney Derby. With the team from East Sydney fighting for finals football Del Piero struck again only for Shannon Cole to pull the sides level in the penultimate match before the finals.
 
It remains one of the most heated clashes between both rivals with eight yellow cards brandished and a straight red card a piece – Brett Emerton and Iacopo La Rocca the recipients.
 
The Wanderers started season 2013-14 as impressively as they finished the last and were again favourites in the lead up to the first Sydney Derby of the campaign in Round 3. Early goals from La Rocca and Ono settled the result in front of a sold-out Allianz Stadium meaning that neither side had tasted victory at home after four meetings.
 
That statistic would change with the turn of the year as the high-flying Wanderers hosted a Sydney side riddled with inconsistency. After 90 minutes of dominance without a breakthrough it was an ex-Blue that broke the deadlock with three minutes to play; Brendon Santalab sending the home fans into a frenzy and confirming Western Sydney’s dominance of the fixture.
 
By the time their final clash of the season arrived in Round 22 the Red & Black had again cemented a top-two spot and Sydney were fighting for finals football. The match was the perfect example of throwing out the form book on derby day as the team from Eastern Sydney turned in a come-from-behind display to down the Wanderers 3-1 at Allianz Stadium.
 
A new season and following an incredible victory over Guangzhou Evergrande another early Derby clash was seen as the perfect opportunity for the Red & Black to get back to winning ways against their bitter rivals.
 
In a rollercoaster ride at Allianz, proceedings started off brilliantly with first half goals from Mark Bridge and an own goal by Blues custodian Vedran Janjetovic but the Wanderers were stunned when Sydney pulled level through Corey Gemeiro and an own goal from Romeo Castelen before the hour mark. Vitor Saba’s red card shortly after left the Wanderers exposed and Alex Brosque scored a late winner to complete a remarkable Derby – touted as perhaps the most dramatic to date.
 
Fans did not have to wait long for the second edition of the season with hosts Wanderers – by now crowned Asian Champions – having the opportunity to exact revenge on their rivals after an indifferent start to the season. Nonetheless, last November’s clash ended all level after goals from Tomi Juric and Bernie Ibini brought the Derby tally to three wins each.
 
The Wanderers will be hopeful to pull clear and grab bragging rights once again this time around. The four matches at Pirtek Stadium have all been tight affairs with one 1-0 win each and two 1-1 draws.
 
The team from Eastern Sydney have failed to keep a clean sheet against the Wanderers since their inaugural meeting more than two years ago. But of course statistics do not mean anything – this is the Sydney Derby.
 
Watch the match live on Fox Sports 505 with kick-off at 7:30pm.