Sydney FC season preview – Bobo to inspire Sky Blue revival

Sydney FC season preview – Bobo to inspire Sky Blue revival


Our series of 2016-17 A-League season previews continues with a look at Graham Arnold’s Sydney FC. 

Last Season

Sydney FC will be hoping for silverware this season following a disappointing 2015-16 campaign. The Sky Blues were sitting equal second after 16 rounds, before they went on a 10 game winless streak which ultimately cost them a finals berth. Graham Arnold is into his third season at the club and, thanks to some shrewd recruiting and an 11 man clear out, anything less than a top-six finish may have dire consequences.


It is hard to pin-point one strength in Arnold’s squad, but perhaps it lays in their forwards. Miloš Ninković is second to none, particularly with regards to ball control and movement, and his combinations with Bobô and Filip Hološko have the potential for some mouth-watering football. These internationals will be complemented by Bernie Ibini’s pace and captain Alex Brosque’s experience to form a forward line that will be difficult to contain for opposition defenders.

At the other end of the pitch, Sydney FC has two highly-rated goalkeepers in Vedran Janjetovic and Danny Vukovic. In defence, the Sky Blues possess fringe Socceroos Alex Wilkinson and Michael Zullo, as well as consistency in Seb Ryall, Matt Jurman and Rhyan Grant.

Opposition sides will struggle to boss Sydney FC’s midfield thanks to the sturdy Brandon O’Neill and Josh Brillante. O’Neill will hope to replicate his performances of last season, while Brillante will have learned a fair bit during his spells at Fiorentina, Empoli and Como. Miloš Dimitrijević needs to find the form that earned him all three of Sydney’s accolades in 2014-15, while David Carney’s introduction in the second half of the season injected life into the team’s attack.


Sydney struggled for consistency last season and that may be the case again this year. Arnold has a strong enough squad to create two competitive starting XI’s, so rotating players and keeping them happy will be a difficult task.

One of Sydney’s weaknesses from 2015-16 was their lack of pace on the flanks and this seems to be unresolved. Ibini will help rectify this problem, however, an injury to the Club Brugges loanee will leave Arnold with Carney as the club’s only other genuine winger, who does not possess the same speed.

The Sky Blues must also improve their ability to create goal-scoring opportunities. This is particularly the case with their wide men who were guilty of wayward crossing and poor choices in the final third last season. Zullo has already proven his ability to cross the ball, as seen in his FFA Cup appearances, while both Grant and Ryall are capable wing-backs.

Best XI


Prediction – Top three

It is clear that Sydney FC have recruited well and their form in the FFA Cup thus far makes for some promising predictions. However, the Sky Blues are not the only team to have bolstered their squad during the offseason. Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City, the Wanderers and Perth look just as likely to win the league as Sydney, while Wellington and Brisbane cannot be discounted.

As mentioned earlier, Sydney FC’s fate rests on the ability of Arnold to keep his squad disciplined and happy. His experience at the Mariners suggests he is able to do so, while his backroom staff — including Steve Corica and Andrew Clark — are vital to the club’s stability.

The Sky Blues will finish in the top three, but lack the quality to win the league or minor premiership.

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