Alessandro Del Piero has scored in his past two matches against Heart. Picture: Mark Evans/news.com.au
After being bought by EPL giant Manchester City, Melbourne Heart has a sole focus in closing out a disappointing season – climb up the A-League table. Unfortunately for Heart, that’s the only way to go when you sit at the foot of ladder, eight points behind the second-last placed team and a dozen out of finals contention with 11 games remaining. As a result, Heart is playing without the burden of expectation and the rest of the 2013/14 season is about preparing for the future.
While Manchester City’s investment in Melbourne’s battling franchise is likely to lead to change in name and shirt, Heart players can only control what happens on the pitch and the last two weeks have been promising. A 3-1 win over Newcastle ended a long drought and was followed by a 2-2 draw with Adelaide United. The 'Red and Whites' welcome back Patrick Gerhardt and David Williams from injury.
Hosting a team coming off a handful of goals is never easy, but Sydney FC’s form prior to last weekend’s 5-0 thrashing of Melbourne Victory was ordinary. The Sky Blues hadn’t won at their previous five outings, three times going down 1-0 and crushed by Brisbane 5-2 at home. It would be easy to be seduced by the Australia Day Big Blue result, but Victory were inept defensively and gifted the Sky Blues at least three goals.
Frank Farina’s men do have the score on the board this season against Heart. The Sydneysiders won 2-0 at AAMI Park in mid-November and 2-1 at Allianz Stadium in round 10. Captain Alessandro Del Piero has found the net in both these encounters. Former captain Terry McFlynn is out for up to three weeks with a quad problem, while the experienced Richard Garcia returns from injury.
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