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.
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.