They’ve been flawless all season so Sydney FC, rightly, should feel confident ahead of their first Westfield FFA Cup final appearance against Melbourne City on Wednesday night at AAMI Park. Here's why.
5: Sky Blue brick wall
Sydney FC’s defence has been impenetrable during their run to the final, keeping clean sheets in every round. As the saying goes, "defence wins titles" and the Sky Blues back four of Rhyan Grant, Alex Wilkinson, Matt Jurman and Michael Zullo haven’t put a foot wrong all season. And don’t forget gloveman Danny Vukovic.
"Vuka" is playing in his third Westfield FFA Cup decider in many years and is arguably in career-best form, conceding just three times in 11 competitive matches in the 2016/17 Season.
4: Away form
They were disappointed not to play the final in front of their home fans but could it work in Sydney’s favour. The Sky Blues have played all four rounds of this season’s Westfield FFA Cup away from home – and won comfortably on each occasion, and are unbeaten on the road in the Hyundai A-League, too.
And you can bet Arnie will use the fact his side was apparently snubbed of a home final to his advantage, creating a siege mentality amongst his players.
Arnold has gone on record saying he pushed his players harder than ever during pre-season (thanks largely to conditioning guru Andrew Clarke) and believes they are the fittest team in the competition. And it’s hard to argue. The Sky Blues have finished over the top of their opponents in almost every clash this season.
Not only have they not conceded a goal in the last 15 minutes of a game, they have also scored 11 of their 29 goals in all competitions after the 75 minute mark. With an extra day to prepare for the final as well, Sydney’s fitness could be their biggest weapon.
2: The coach
Arnie is a winner. Last season’s debacle where the club missed the finals hit him hard and he’s had a steely determination since day one of pre-season. Having won everything on offer in the Hyundai A-League, this is the last trophy he needs to complete his own domestic treble.
His meticulous planning and big-game experience should ensure his players are primed to perform on the night.
1: It’s their time
The Sky Blues have been building for this the moment the players filed back into the club’s Macquarie Uni HQ for day one of pre-season. They are hungry to bring the glory days back and know the only way to do that is to put some silverware in the trophy cabinet.
There’s a good mix of youth, experience, silky smooth skill, physical strength and a ruthless approach. With the likes of Ninkovic, Brosque, O’Neill and Brillante pulling the strings, you get the sense it could be Sydney’s time to shine.