The team from Queensland will hope to recover from their home defeat at the hands of Newcastle when they go away to Allianz Stadium on Boxing DaySydney missed the chance to close the gap on league-leaders Brisbane after they fell to a lacklustre 1-0 defeat to lowly Wellington. It was just the Sky Blues' second loss in their last seven games but more worryingly for coach Frank Farina they again struggled for cohesion and their execution in the front third was poor. The one positive from the trip across the ditch was the first appearance of Corey Gamiero after a lengthy lay-off through injury. Sydney will be hoping marquee men Alessandro Del Piero and Brett Emerton can overcome their injury concerns and line-up for this one. The Roar are coming off a shock home loss to Newcastle, with an own goal from James Donachie and Joey Gibbs' late strike handing the Jets a 2-0 win at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night. It snapped a four-game winning streak for Mike Mulvey's side and they will be keen to atone against a side they have a healthy head-to-head record against. The Roar have lost just seven times in 27 meetings with the Sky Blues and crushed them 4-0 earlier this season. Young attacker Kwame Yeboah is expected to return off the bench after missing the Jets clash, in what will be his final outing for the club before linking with German club Borussia Monchengladbach.
It's nothing new that the Sky Blues have battled whenever they've been without Del Piero but it's becoming a mental barrier for the side. They have yet to get any points from a game this season the Italian hasn't played in and they again seemed to lack direction and intensity without Del Piero in Wellington. It came just a week after they luckily held on for a win against Melbourne Heart after the 39-year-old was forced off at half-time with a comfortable 2-0 lead. Regardless of how fit Del Piero is, Farina may opt to wheel him out just for the mindset of his other players.
While Kwame Yeboah is set to be on deck for this clash, his impending departure could leave the Roar with a lack of options in the striking department. Berisha will be the only out-and-out striker once Yeboah heads to Germany and they can ill-afford anything to happen to the Albanian. The Roar seemed to run out of ideas against the Jets with Yeboah absent which makes it imperative Mulvey can bring in some re-enforcements in the January transfer window, especially if Brisbane want to go all the way this season.
Sydney's defence has been much improved this season but they have a habit of going to water when playing against Berisha. The livewire striker seems to love playing against the Sky Blues, scoring in four of the last five meetings between the two sides and he will be a key man for the visitors again.
Much will depend on the fitness of Sydney skipper Del Piero. If he can shrug off his injury problem to start then the home side's chances of victory increase significantly. But if the World Cup winner doesn't take his place it's hard to see the Sky Blues having enough quality to win this one. Despite sitting comfortably in the top six, they have had to eke out wins through good luck more than impressive play in a lot of those matches. You can't get away with that type of stuff against Brisbane.
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