IT’S his explanation for Sydney FC’s derby dominance and the reason Graham Arnold’s A-League champions are on the verge of another premiership. “We’re better – it’s simple,” Arnold said.
The Sky Blues were supposed to be there for the taking by Western Sydney on Sunday, supposedly fatigued from a midweek Asian Champions League trip to China and with three forced changes to a rarely altered starting XI.
“Everyone thinks that all the time at the Wanderers,” Arnold said.
“At the end of the day the stats don’t lie, and this is a pretty lopsided derby – I think the most lopsided derby in Australian football.
“The Melbourne derby’s closer and I think even the F3 derby is closer between the Mariners and Newcastle.”
From the last 13 Sydney derbies the Sky Blues have lost just once.
And while the revived Wanderers refused to go quietly, they were ill-equipped to deal with Sydney’s moments of quality – an Adrian Mierzejewski brace and a third from Bobo set up exquisitely by Milos Ninkovic – in the 3-1 triumph.
As it stands, Sydney must win only their next two games to ensure the Premiers’ Plate is theirs for a second successive season.
Arnold, the ultimate goal-setter, ticked off target No.1 when his side passed 50 points.
Now on 52, the aim is to claim all 18 still on offer to reach 70 and eclipse last season’s points record of 66.
Sydney FC press conference
Newcastle will attempt to extinguish that objective this weekend and close the 11-point gap between first and second, having seen off Brisbane 1-0 thanks to Joe Champness’ late winner.
Eight points below them a crucial Melbourne derby could bring fourth-placed Victory to the brink of dislodging City in third.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold will be rubbing his hands together ahead of the Socceroos’ highly anticipated return to the international stage after China-based Aaron Mooy’s stunner on Wednesday.
The Socceroos midfielder, who left Brighton to Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai SIPG following the Premier League side’s relegation in 2019 on a deal reported to be worth $18 million, scored just after the hour mark in their crunch game against Shangai Shenhua.
Mooy, 30, who made 32 appearances for Brighton before joining the Shanghai-based team, received the ball beyond on half way and advanced it forward.
Then, as he neared the edged of the box, he unleashed a stunning right-foot strike that sailed past the outstretched hands of the goal keeper and into the top left-hand corner.
Mooy, who slipped in the process of kicking, celebrated wildly as he gave his side a 1-0 lead.
“It was a fantastic goal and one that was worthy of winning any game,” Port boss Ivan Leko told reporters. “Mooy has been in good form so far this season but it is unfortunate that we were not able to win the game from a good position and take the three points.”
Christian Bassogog however earned a 1-1 draw for Shenhua with a stoppage-time penalty to deny Mooy’s side three straight wins to start the year.
Mooy played down the goal.
“It was good to score but the most important thing is the result,” he said.
“Both teams played very well today,” Mooy added. “They were well-organised and both teams had a number of opportunities. We also had the opportunity to extend our lead and it is frustrating that we did not manage to do that.”
“We have made a good start this season and it is a shame that we did not manage to make it three wins out of three. Now we will regroup and then look to win the next games.”
Shanghai Youth Daily hailed the strike as “the best goal of the season in what was a game that showed the quality in Chinese football.”
Mooy’s impressive form bodes well for the Socceroos ahead of their World Cup qualifiers.
Arnold and his side navigated through their first four matches of the Asian Football Confederation’s second round with wins against each of their Group B opponents.
Australia currently leads the way in the pool on 12 points, two points ahead of Kuwait and Jordan, with only one team guaranteed a place in the next stage as the runners-up hope they are among four best second-placed teams.