The only team that can catch Graham Arnold’s Sydney FC in the A-League is Sydney FC themselves. Their 2-1 Australia Day win over Kevin Muscat’s Melbourne Victory has them on pace to win a unique premiership/championship double, while Muscat’s situation at the Victory could deservedly put him in the firing line by season’s end.
With a record of 13-4-0 (43 points), the Sky Blues have the premiership race pretty much sewn up and do not be surprised if they head into the finals series unbeaten and they run the tables in the postseason. Filip Holosko (38′) and Bernie Ibini-Isei (65′) scored for a Sydney side that played down to 10 men after James Donachie was sent off in the 71st minute of play. James Troisi scored for Melbourne in the 18th minute at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.
“We have 30 points to go,” said Arnold. “And it’s good to hear the boys say they felt they didn’t play anywhere near their best. And to still come down here and win 2-1 is a great sign. But we have a lot to work on. For me, it’s about getting better each week and we want to be peaking at the right time.
“I just said to the chairman [of Sydney FC], we’re finding different ways to win. We found a way to win. I’m driving the players to be the best in A-League history. In a ten-team competition the most returned has been 57 and we want to beat that. So we don’t talk about coming first or the Premiers’ Plate, it’s all about getting more than 57 points.”
“I’m not walking away from tonight terrified whatsoever,” said Muscat after the match. “I will never give up trying to catch them. We haven’t been opened up tonight. We haven’t been out-passed or outplayed. I was really happy with the football we played. Maybe we could be slightly fresher but it didn’t affect the outcome of the game.”
It was a daft rebuttal from an embattled manager that is running the risk of going two league seasons without a trophy and possible getting canned as a result of a late-season slups that has Melbourne Victory on a three-game losing streak, uncharacteristic of their moniker and worthy of being second best for the rest of the year. Sydney FC will not be caught by none other but themselves as this season is now theirs to lose.
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