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Sydney FC - Central Coast Mariners Preview

Both sides had something to cheer about in the opening round but the Sky Blues appear to be the clear favourites

Sydney FC have proved Central Coast Mariners' bogey team in recent years but something could be brewing in Gosford after last week's comeback.

SQUADS

Sydney FC squad: 1.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 3.Riley WOODCOCK, 4.Alex WILKINSON, 5.Matt JURMAN, 6.Joshua BRILLANTE, 7.Michael ZULLO, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Bobô, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Bernie IBINI, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 17.David CARNEY, 18.Matt SIMON, 20.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 21.Filip HOLOSKO, 22.Sebastian RYALL, 23.Rhyan GRANT

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 3.Riley WOODCOCK (promoted), 11.Bernie IBINI (promoted)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 16.George TIMOTHEOU, 19.George BLACKWOOD (international duty)

Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 6.Blake POWELL, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 10.Mickael TAVARES, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 13.Kwabena APPIAH, 14.Adam BERRY, 15.Brad McDONALD, 19.Jacques FATY, 20.Paul IZZO (gk), 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING, 25.Ryan PETERSON

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 7.Fabio FERREIRA (return from injury), 15.Brad McDONALD (promoted)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 16.Liam Rose (international duty – 3 weeks), 23.Jake Adelson (ACL – indefinite)

BLUFFER'S GUIDE

Paul Okon appears to be steering the Mariners back on course.

It may have only been 45 minutes but the signs in the second half against Perth Glory last week were promising, as Central Coast fought back from three goals down at half-time to draw 3-3.

A win over the Sky Blues – a team Central Coast haven't beaten in their last six attempts – would be a huge statement.

Sydney laid down a huge marker with their Round 1 performance, crushing Western Sydney Wanderers 4-0 thanks to a second-half blitz.

Coach Graham Arnold has Sydney well organised, with central midfield duo Josh Brillante and Brandon O'Neill providing a strong foundation in both defence and attack.

With a FFA Cup semi-final to come next week as well, it's a good time to be a part of the Sky Blues revolution and they will be keen to keep the momentum rolling in front of their home fans.

History and the opening round would point to a win for Sydney but there's a different feeling around the Mariners at the moment, which gives the hint of an upset brewing.

ROUTE TO GOAL

How good were Sydney's front four on the opening weekend?

The combination play – especially between ex-Besiktas pair Bobo and Filip Holosko – was stellar, while Milos Ninkovic and David Carney also shone brightly.

With Alex Brosque and Matt Simon both making impacts off the bench – and Bernie Ibini still to come back into the side – Arnold has so many different options at his disposal.

For the Mariners, striker Roy O'Donovan lived up to his pre-season promise to score more goals with a double against Glory.

No doubt he would have enjoyed the service from speedsters Connor Pain and Trent Buhagiar, while Blake Powell looks a handy option at number 10.

WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Jacques Faty. The experienced central defender was hooked by Okon at half-time against Glory after playing a role in all three of Perth's goals. Will Faty get a chance to atone against his former club?

FORM LINES

The Sky Blues were the most impressive performers of the opening weekend - a second-half onslaught helping them demolish local rivals Western Sydney 4-0.

For the Mariners, they also saved their best for the second half, fighting back to snatch a point against Glory in the west.

Between the two clubs, they scored seven goals last week and all after the interval.

PREDICTION

Sydney FC 3-2 Central Coast Mariners