Sydney FC Capable of Winning at Rock-bottom Central Coast Mariners
March 18, 2016
Saturday’s A-League clash between Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC sees two teams in wretched form going head-to-head.
With just four rounds of games remaining of the regular season, Central Coast Mariners are already doomed to finish bottom of the table. They’ve lost their last six games and conceded 18 goals in the process. It seems fairly evident that the towel has long since been thrown in although, given that there’s no relegation, there’s little incentive to raise their game over the remainder of the campaign.
Sydney FC have plummeted down the table on the back of eight games without a win and are one place and three points shy of the 1st phase semi-final places as things stand. Victory at the Central Coast Stadium is surely all but a necessity if they are to retain realistic hopes of a top six finish.
It’s been some fall from grace for Graham Arnold’s Sky Blues, who finished last season as runners-up in the A-League. Some of the recent dip in form can be attributed to having to juggle A-League and AFC Champions League commitments, but it also has to be remembered that last season Arnold could call upon the likes of the giant Austrian striker Marc Janko; highly-rated teenage left-back Alex Gersbach; midfielder Terry Antonis striker Bernie Ibini-Isie.
All have since departed for European football, with Janko now at Basel; Gersbach at Rosenborg; Antonis at PAOK and Ibini-Isie at Club Brugge. Frankly, those that replaced them haven’t been of the same calibre.
They were in AFC Champions League action on Wednesday, claiming an excellent and surprising 1-0 victory away to South Korea’s Pohang Steelers to top Group H at the half-way stage. The travelling involved could quite possibly be a factor here, although the win must have given them a much-needed shot of confidence.
Veteran former Liverpool midfielder Luis Garcia and striker Mitchell Austin were both sent off for the Mariners in the 4-0 defeat at Perth Glory last week, so both will miss out here.
It’s difficult to see any great incentive for the Mariners here and although there would be precious little reason to back Sydney FC against any other A-League opposition, that factor might just be sufficient for doing so here.
Their price holds little appeal though so, taking into account that A-League games featuring the Mariners average 3.57 goals each this season, backing Sydney and over 2.5 goals in the game looks the more attractive option.