Graham Arnold is demanding Sydney FC regain some lost momentum for the finals before they collect the Premiers Plate at Saturday’s A-League home clash with the Newcastle Jets.
The coach was disappointed the all-conquering Sky Blues took their foot off the gas in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Wellington Phoenix and has called for a step up in attitude as they gear up for the finals series.
“We have talked about that, we have looked at that and I expect this weekend that we will be back doing our best,” Arnold said on Thursday.
Guaranteed a bye in the first week of the finals after setting a host of A-League records during a dominant campaign, the Sky Blues need win just two more matches – a home semi-final and the grand final – to sweep the season’s honours.
But Arnold said that task starts on Saturday against cellar dwellers Newcastle.
“It is time to go higher… it is one of three big games and it is about winning those three,” he said. “We have shown consistently over the season that we are the fittest team in the competition and we want to show that again over the weekend.”
Sydney will receive the Premiers’ Plate at the conclusion of their encounter with the Jets at Allianz Stadium.
Arnold says while finishing top of the table was a “massive feat”, the prospect of collecting the accompanying silverware in front of their home fans should not be a distraction for his players.
“Obviously the Premiers’ Plate will be presented after the game but the focus is solely on the three points this weekend,” he said. “We are getting to the business end of the season… we have a healthy squad looking to improve.”
Meanwhile, attitude is everything for Western Sydney coach TonyPopovic.
UNRELENTING: Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold wants his players to win convincingly against Newcastle on Saturday. Picture: Getty Images
The sixth-place Wanderers travel to play Adelaide United on Saturday night in a tune-up for their A-League finals campaign.
Western Sydney will play an away elimination final, most likely against Melbourne City or Brisbane Roar, in the first week of the finals.
While Saturday’s round 27 clash against the Reds will have a bearing on the final standings,Popovicsays what’s more important is the game’s value as preparation for what lies ahead.
“The only thing we need is a good attitude, a good approach,”Popovicsaid on Thursday.
“If our mentality is right going in to the game and we are very focused, our performance will follow that and that will help us in our preparation for the finals.”
“I’m very confident that all the players are ready to go.”
Popovicsays internal selection pressure would also ensure a fierce approach from the Wanderers.
“There is competition for places,” he said.
“The players that have played the last couple are trying to put their (best) foot forward.
“And there’s some boys that if they get the chance against Adelaide want to stake their claim as well.
“It’s healthy competition and ultimately we’re preparing for that first final.”