Sydney FC need to tighten up defensively to sustain their title bid
Sydney FC may still be entertaining, but they need to work on their defence if they want to repeat their previous success21 January 2019 | James Evans
There was plenty of hype surrounding Sydney FC at the start of the 2018-19 A-League season following back-to-back titles and Steve Corica's men were heavily fancied to complete a historic hat-trick.
However, two wins in their first five matches dampened expectations and the Sky Blues' chances of making it three-on-the-bounce look relatively slim. With Adam Le Fondre and Siem de Jong in the side, they are always likely to score plenty of goals but keeping the opposition off the scoresheet has so far proved troublesome during the first half of the campaign.
Under Graham Arnold, Sydney FC were always watertight at the back and they conceded just 25 goals en-route to securing their second successive title in 2018. They kept twelve clean sheets, were built on solid foundations, and boasted the best defensive record in the top flight. Two years ago, they shipped just thirteen goals during the entire season, managing 17 clean sheets in the process. This time around, it's a very different story.
The A-League has reached the halfway stage and Corica's men sit third in the table. They possess the league's top goalscorer in Adam Le Fondre, who has found the net on eleven occasions but they've managed just two clean sheets so far. Only bottom club Central Coast Mariners have managed fewer. Worryingly, the Sky Blues haven't managed a shutout since November 2nd and their porous back-line could potentially cause them to slip out of the title race.
Their matches have certainly been entertaining this season with an average of 3.31 goals per game but many fans are craving the kind of assured and solid defensive display which helped them clinch the title in 2017.
They have already conceded 17 times and trail early pacesetters Perth Glory by six points but despite this deficit, the club's coaching staff remain quietly confident of a title bid. They are currently priced at 4.33 in the latest football betting to secure yet more silverware in 2019, but they'll be largely relying on their goalscoring prowess to guide them to glory. Steve Corica told Macquarie Sports Radio that he's still on the lookout for another striker with an overseas player likely to join the club before the end of January. A new addition would significantly bolster their squad and take the pressure off Adam Le Fondre. It would also give their title hopes a significant boost.
Sydney FC's home form has been typically strong once again this season although they suffered a small setback with a defeat to Wellington Phoenix at the beginning of December. The club quickly bounced back from that loss with three consecutive wins in front of their own fans and they look on course for another strong finish. They seem to be adapting to life at Kogarah and the Jubilee Stadium could easily become a fortress over the next couple of seasons.
They will go into the mid-January fixtures with plenty of optimism and their title bid is still, just about, on course despite the Sky Blues being unable to record a clean sheet for over two months. The A-League is known for its high-scoring games and Sydney FC have certainly played their part this season. However, some supporters may occasionally prefer to witness a defensive masterclass as this would help reassure them that things are still heading in the right direction under the current regime. They are still firmly in the reckoning this season but their leaky back-line is something which needs to be addressed if they are to stand a chance of making A-League history in 2019.
a-league, sydney fc