Match Preview: Sky Blues aiming to gift early Christmas present

Sydney FC will look to gift Sky Blues fans three points when they face Western United at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.

It will be the first time Sydney FC face the Geelong-based side since their 3-0 quarter-final victory in the Australian Cup at Leichhardt Oval earlier this season when a trio of assists by Joe Lolley set up the Sky Blues’ semi-final berth.

This week back in 2008, Rhyan Grant made his Isuzu UTE A-League debut and with 15 years under his belt, he believes that his side can turn their form around this weekend.

Rhyan Grant gunning for the ball.

Grant has become the highest-capped player with 317 appearances, and the 15-year Sydney FC legend will look to lead the defence to its first clean sheet this season.

Last week the Sky Blues dominated possession against Melbourne Victory with 68{3302a4a97df51ab71377f818b10857871066f471bffc8f5d55c900040a563c05} and they clocked in over 300 more passes than their Big Blue opponents but were unable to find the net.

They also had 72 final third entries compared to the 37 for Victory, which allowed Sydney FC to generate chances and trouble their defence, however goals and shots on target were at a premium.

Sydney FC have no further injuries heading into this week’s game which will mean that Talay will have an array of players to choose from in this increasingly competitive squad.

Andrew Redmayne will be welcomed back from suspension, and Max Burgess, who narrowly missed selection against Victory, also returns from a groin injury after he wasn’t risked last week.

Western United’s 36-year-old striker Nikita Rukavytsya is recovering from a calf injury picked up earlier in the season but could return.

John Aloisi’s side didn’t miss Rukavytsya’s last matchday, as John defeated his brother Ross Aloisi in a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Brisbane Roar in which they scored two late goals to end their dire run of form.

Pat Wood celebrating scoring a goal against Western United.

The Green and Black will be without John Aloisi on the sideline for this clash after he was shown a second yellow card for his remonstrations on the touchline in the Aloisi battle.

Western United did have four through balls compared to the one successful Brisbane Roar attempt and United also had 18 interceptions compared to 10.

Daniel Penha celebrating against Brisbane Roar.

Western have only managed to score in games in Melbourne so far this season and have also conceded thirteen goals in four games in New South Wales since playing against the Sky Blues in September.

Key matchup: Robert Mak vs Josh Risdon

Robert Mak will be looking to score his second goal of the season against Western at Allianz Stadium and he will come up against Josh Risdon, who scored the late winner against the Roar last week.

Risdon and his team have scored the least and conceded the most goals of any team this season and have also not won back-to-back matches since March.

On the opposite side, Sydney FC’s Slovakian superstar Robert Mak has become one of the Sky Blues attacking centrepieces, often creating chances and challenging defenders with his slick finishing skills.

Mak is the second-highest scorer in this fixture, recording three goals, two less than Adam Le Fondre who leads the tally.

Robert Mak celebrating a goal against Western United last season.

Having come face-to-face with each other last season, Mak does have the upper hand, netting a brace in last season’s encounter at Allianz Stadium.

Events at the game:

These two teams won’t be the only provider of entertainment on Saturday as Sydney FC will celebrate Christmas with a possible Santa Claus appearance for fans who are on his good list.

Post-match, the Maccas Families on the Field Experience will also take place, providing all ticket holders the opportunity to have a kick around on the pitch at Allianz Stadium after the match. More information can be found here.

Match Details:
Sydney FC v Western United
Isuzu UTE A-League Round Nine
Saturday 23rd December, 2023
Allianz Stadium, Sydney, NSW
Kick off: 5:30pm AEDT
Gates Open: 4:30pm AEDT
Broadcast Live: Paramount+
Tickets: Click Here