Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold is confident his re-jigged defence can stand-up to Melbourne Victory’s rampant forward line in Saturday night’s blockbuster clash at Allianz Stadium.
The Sky Blues boss has been forced into a reshuffle at the back due to the suspension of first-choice centre-backs Nikola Petkovic and Jacques Faty.
Sebastian Ryall – who returns after two games out with a quad injury – and Matt Jurman are expected to fill the breach, despite the pair’s lack of recent matches.
And they will face a daunting challenge with the likes of Besart Berisha, Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Gui Finkler and Kosta Barbarouses to contend with.
“Jurman and Ryall will train today for the first time together. We’ll do a tactical session…but I expect both of them to pretty much start,” Arnold told reporters on Thursday.
“You’re not bringing in kids who are making debuts. Seb Ryall’s won two championships and Matty’s won two championships.
“Sebby’s got 150 A-League games under his belt and Jurman’s got around 100 as well.
“They’re two experienced players, the only question mark is their fitness. Seb’s been out for four weeks….we’ll see how they pull up today (Thursday).”
Arnold declared this week he’s sees Victory as the best team in the Hyundai A-League and wants his side to reach the benchmark Kevin Muscat’s side have set.
“Consistency wise they’ve been the best team so far this season…that’s what we have to do,” the Sky Blues boss said.
“We have to try to raise our consistency. Our performances over the last two rounds have been exceptionally good.
“The challenge for us is to back that up this weekend.”
The Sky Blues are coming off a huge 3-1 road win over league-leaders Perth Glory, despite finish the match with just nine men following the dismissals of Faty and Petkovic.
Arnold rated the win as probably the best since his taking charge of the club.
“It does a lot for character building,” Arnold said of the win.
“When I came in I said mateship was important and working for each other and building a team spirit and culture.
“Against Perth we defended exceptional well. To go to Perth and they only had two shots on goal in 90 minutes.
“It gives us confidence and resolve.”
New recruit Robert Stambolziev is expected to win a spot on the bench for Saturday night’s clash.