Both these teams earned much-needed victories last time out, but only one side can go back to back by claiming all three points at the Hunter Stadium on Saturday evening
For Sydney the issue is intensity. Frank Farina brought this up a few weeks back after the club's loss to Melbourne Heart, a result that came just a few days after the Sky Blues pummelled Melbourne Victory 5-0. Farina questioned why his players' intensity wasn't consistent within matches and from one game to another. Even against Perth, there were times when the intensity dropped and as a result that match was in the balance. But if Sydney do bring their A-Game then the Jets will have to be wary.
For Newcastle, it's a similar proposition. Having won two games against the Roar before, it's hardly surprising they came out with some confidence in their ability to do it a third time. But now they have to bring that confidence and intensity to each game as they look at a possible late run to the finals. The Jets are specialists when it comes to late runs at the top six. They've done it a few times before but to start this charge they have to beat Sydney and with just six wins against the Sky Blues to their name from 28 overall A-League clashes, history is somewhat against them.
Ranko Despotovic is desperate to try and stay in the harbour city. The striker is looking at a new deal at the Sky Blues and getting one could be very much dependent on whether he helps Sydney make the finals. Throughout Sydney's week from hell last week, Despotovic spent some time practising his link-up work with Alessandro Del Piero. The end result, a classy through ball from the Italian champion to Despotovic for Sydney's first goal last week in what may be a taster for things to come.
It's a battle of master and apprentice as rookie Newcastle coach Clayton Zane – fresh from his first win last week – takes on his old Socceroos boss Farina at Hunter Stadium. But I suspect Farina may take the honours here, although honestly there's not much logic to this suggestion. Between them, these sides have won just five of a cumulative last 20 games, so tipping three points to the Sky Blues is fraught with danger. Yet, I feel the penny may have dropped for Sydney and with a good run – fixture wise – to the finals beckoning they may have more incentive and more in their armoury this time around.
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