Alessandro Del Piero scored his first goal for Sydney FC last week. Picture: Mark Evans/news.com.au
A full house at Parramatta Stadium will see the A-League’s first Sydney derby when Western Sydney hosts Sydney FC on Saturday night. Both sides have made a slow start to the season, although the Wanderers opening week draw against the Mariners sees them with a point more than their cross-city rivals.
Despite last week’s 1-0 defeat to Adelaide United, Western Sydney has made a good start to its first A-League campaign. Many expected the Wanderers would struggle against some of the more experienced teams in the competition but they have matched Central Coast and the Reds for large parts of their opening two fixtures to show that they can compete at this level. While Tony Popovic’s side has had little trouble at the back, conceding just one goal in the opening two matches, scoring goals has been a little more difficult. The Wanderers are yet to find the back of the net, although the goals will come in time as the players forge stronger combinations. After coming off the bench last week, Labinot Haliti provides an alternative option up front, while star recruit Shinji Ono will be much improved for getting a full 90 minutes under his belt against the Reds.
Sydney FC made headlines during the pre-season with the signing of Alessandro Del Piero but there has been little good news coming from the Sky Blues camp since the season began. Not only has the club lost both of its matches, but it has also been hit by injuries to key personnel. Adam Griffiths has joined Pascal Bosschaart on the injured list, leaving coach Ian Crook without either of his first choice central defenders. Teenager midfielder Terry Antonis is available for selection again after sitting out his sides 3-2 loss to the Newcastle Jets with a concussion.
While the Wanderers have been miserly at the back but failed to provide much of a threat going forward, Sydney FC has had the opposite problem. They found the back of the net twice last week through Del Piero and Blake Powell but have also leaked goals, having conceded five in the past fortnight. If the Wanderers can find a way through the Sky Blues defence, the Parramatta faithful could be celebrating their sides first A-League win on Saturday night.
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