Sydney FC Head Coach Graham Arnold has described the Sky Blues as the “elder statesman” of the Hyundai A-League and says his side will never be considered “underdogs” ahead of the first Sydney Derby of the season.
After two derbies at Pirtek Stadium in the 2014/15 season, Arnold said he was looking forward to being back at the much larger Allianz Stadium as he stressed the importance of showing the Wanderers the quality that the Sky Blues possess.
“It’s a one night only opportunity for the Wanderers fans to go out and come to the big city of Sydney but also to our mansion,” Arnold said.
“We go out to their little shed and there’s only 16 to 19 thousand out there. 45 thousand people, full house, great atmosphere, let’s make a good spectacle of it.
“I don’t think at Sydney we can ever go in with the underdog status,” Arnold continued.
“The Wanderers are trying to get to where Sydney FC are in terms of the size of the club and also the training facilities and everything.
“They’re new, they’re young, we said it last year that they’re our younger brothers down the road and we’ve got to make sure that we show them that we are the bigger club and elder statesman.”
Arnold has also urged his players to play the game and not the occasion on Saturday night as he prepares for his fourth Sydney Derby at the helm of the Sky Blues.
Sydney FC are unbeaten since March 2014 in the derby however Arnold has stressed that form goes out the window on these occasions as he said he expects to welcome an inform Wanderers team to Allianz Stadium.
“It’s important that we don’t play with emotion,” Arnold said.
“We fight and we show the fans that we’re fighting for them but what’s important is that when we go on the field we play with tactical discipline and play to a game plan to win the game.
“History shows that we’re unbeaten in the last four games but history means nothing. When you’re moving into another derby your home form goes out the window,” he continued.
“It’s all about who makes the right decisions at the right times and who gets the big decisions and big calls and who performs better on that one night.
“I think the Wanderers are in very good form. If you look at their first two games, the first game against Brisbane they only lost because of two set pieces and the game against Adelaide they were probably the better team.”
Arnold has a selection dilemma ahead of the big clash on Saturday night with Andrew Hoole returning from suspension and apart from Ali Abbas, who is not yet match fit, a full squad to choose from.
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