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23 Jan 2018 7:04
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Soccer

    Sydney FC players set score target

    Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has signalled no changes to his starting XI, as the A-League leaders look to beat the Newcastle Jets and go 11 points clear.


    Sydney FC have set themselves a new scoreline target against Newcastle as the A-League leaders chase more history.

    On Saturday night the Sky Blues followed through on coach Graham Arnold's challenge to beat Perth 6-0, equalling the club's biggest win on record.

    The coach hinted his defending champions are now fixed on surpassing it at home on Wednesday night to the second-placed but injury-depleted Jets.

    This time the players have set their own scoreline target, one based on a complete 90-minute performance to better Saturday's rampant five-goal second half which followed a slow start.

    "They gave me 45 good minutes at 6-0, I want 95 minutes of a great performance," Arnold said on Tuesday.

    "I've asked them the question of the score this week ... they've told me, and I can't say it publicly for obvious reasons.

    "But it's a score that they've told me and I've told them to stick to it."

    The carrot could not be more tempting for Sydney at Allianz Stadium, with an 11-point league lead on offer if they can overrun Ernie Merrick's entertainers.

    The factor impossible to ignore in this top-of-the-table showdown is the sheer number of personnel missing from Merrick's squad.

    Captain Nigel Boogaard is out with a concussion sustained in Friday's loss to Melbourne Victory, while Ivan Vujica is suspended and Ben Kantarovski (back) and Johnny Koutroumbis (hip) are no sure thing.

    Argentine signing Patricio Rodriguez still hasn't arrived in the country and fellow recruit Riley McGree will be away with the Olyroos alongside Nick Cowburn.

    That's on top of long-term injuries to key forwards Roy O'Donovan and Ronny Vargas and goalkeeper Jack Duncan.

    Daniel Georgievski's return from a knee injury is the one positive for Merrick, who may be forced to draw on youth team players in perhaps their toughest match yet.

    Sydney's scenario could not be more different, with every player available including previously omitted impact striker Matt Simon.

    And despite the four-day turnaround, Arnold signalled no changes to Saturday's starting XI.

    "When you're as fit as the boys are - and we continue to talk about being the fittest team in the country - it's not a problem at all," he said.

    Sydney sit on 34 points at the turn of the year, having seen out 2017 with 29 wins from 34 competitive games.

    "I expected to be around this position," Arnold said.

    "To motivate the boys it's all about breaking records and (creating) history.

    "We've done nothing this year ... always the first challenge is to get to 50 points, then we re-adjust our goals."

    STATS THAT MATTER:

    * Sydney have won the last nine encounters with Newcastle and are undefeated in the last 14 encounters

    * The Jets last beat Sydney in December 2012

    * The Sky Blues have scored 10 goals in their last two games

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity


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