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19 Feb 2018 10:47
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Soccer

    A-League set for big battle of the Blues

    Unbeaten top two Melbourne City and Sydney FC are set to clash in the first A-League blockbuster of the season next Friday.


    Flying Melbourne City are set for their toughest test of the A-League season next weekend, when Warren Joyce's title credentials go on the line against reigning champions Sydney FC.

    Friday night's top-of-the-table showdown at AAMI Park will pit the league's two lightest shades of blue in a battle reminiscent of last year's FFA Cup final.

    City's record thus far is formidable - with seven goals scored and one conceded, they are the only team with four victories from four rounds.

    Their new, far more miserly defence is complemented by the free-scoring Ross McCormack, who continued his career revival via Saturday's brace to down Adelaide 2-0.

    History would suggest City are on the path to great things, given the only other three sides to have won their first four games went on to win the title in Melbourne Victory (2006-07), Sydney FC (2016-17) and Brisbane Roar (2011-12).

    New coach Joyce wasn't buying into it.

    "It doesn't even bear commenting on," Joyce said.

    "We just have to dust ourselves down and give a good account of ourselves against Sydney next week and try to keep the momentum up."

    Not exactly straightforward given Sydney, fresh from seeing off Perth 2-0 amid another VAR controversy, have three wins and a draw, and have suffered just a single loss since the beginning of last season's ascent to the premiership-championship double.

    In a warning for their Melbourne counterparts, Sky Blues coach Graham Arnold stressed his squad are yet to fire from all cylinders.

    "There's so much more to give in that team ... and they will give more and more," Arnold said.

    "What I see at training, we're nowhere near it yet. It will come, it will get greater and greater as the season goes on."

    Meanwhile, Brisbane coach John Aloisi might have finally managed to get some sleep on Saturday night after the Roar executed a second-half comeback to draw 3-3 away to Wellington.

    Phoenix led 3-0 inside the opening 20 minutes, with Serbian striker Andrija Kaludjerovic, netting twice.

    Roar's Italian import Massimo Maccarone scored a second half double including an 82nd minute penalty to earn his side a share of the spoils.

    The result has done nothing for Roar's table position, still last after the Mariners 1-1 home draw with Melbourne Victory in Gosford.

    Former Victory winger Connor Pain scored for the Mariners and Leroy George bagged the equaliser from a sumptuous free kick.

    Both sides are still winless.

    Earlier on Sunday, Dimi Petratos scuppered a Western Sydney smash-and-grab, cancelling Mark Bridge's opener to secure a 1-1 draw.

    Both sides are unbeaten after four rounds, with Newcastle on eight points and Wanderers six, running third and fourth respectively.


    NZN




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