Arnold refutes Muscat’s defensive tag after Big Blue

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold refuted suggestions by Victory coach Kevin Muscat that the Sky Blues were overly defensive after the Big V’s 1-0 win on Tuesday night in the Big Blue.

Let’s be honest, it was one team trying to win and one team trying not to lose. Let’s be honest,” Muscat told Fox Sports after the game.

“It’s hard to play when you’ve got eight bodies behind the ball defending on the edge of the box.”

Victory rewarded for attacking intent: Muscat

Arnold hit back saying his team had a plan with and without the ball against a team he said had the best attack in the country. 

“Victory are a very good counter-attack team. They don’t build up anymore. Their front four are waiting and waiting for a mistake from the opposition. Like the own goal they got,” Arnold told Fox Sports.

The Sydney FC team huddle just before kick-off in the  Big Blue.

The visitors’ impressive defensive shape blunted the Big V’s attacking intent till the final 10 minutes when the home side got their reward. 

Substitute Jesse Makarounas’s low ball into the box was guided into the Sky Blues’ net by the otherwise excellent Matt Jurman to send the 30,000 plus home crowd at Etihad into ecstasy.

However, Arnold felt there was a foul on his playmaker Milos Ninkovic on halfway just before the goal.

“The ball goes straight in behind and unfortunately it was an own goal,” he said. 

Arnold added: “I don’t have any shame in saying there are two parts to playing football. With and without the ball. And without the ball you’ve got to keep the ball out of the net.

“So defensively we were strong again and against probably the best attacking team in the country, they didn’t have many chances.

Sydney striker Matt Simon puts in a challenge on Victory's Oliver Bozanic.

“And at the same time we controlled the midfield well.” 

Sydney FC now must regroup quickly for Saturday’s home clash with Brisbane Roar. The Sky Blues are currently in fifth spot on the ladder with 27 points.