March 31, 2015 08:23:50 UK
Graham Arnold felt Sydney FC’s 3-0 victory away to leaders Wellington Phoenix was not just a much-improved defensive effort but the best performance since he became coach.
The Sky Blues have now won eight of their 12 away games this season and drawn the other four. That’s an encouraging record to have, given that three of their last four matches are on the road.
It was probably the best 90 minutes overall since I’ve been at the club.
Their win brought them to within a point of the Phoenix and was the perfect response to their home defeat to Melbourne City the previous weekend.
“I’m never happy to lose, but the loss to Melbourne City woke the players up a little bit and gave us the opportunity to focus more on where we need to be,” said Arnold. “I wasn’t happy with the way we were defending and the way we went about things.
“We’ve worked hard and talked a lot about tightening up our defence. You take the loss, but you learn from the loss and that’s what we did.”
Most teams try to take the strengths of their home form and use them in away matches, but Arnold’s approach has been the reverse this season.
The Sky Blues have been so good away from Sydney that the positives of that experience – staying together and building team spirit – have been introduced for their home games.
The team now stay in a hotel before every home match, as they try to improve their fortunes at Allianz Stadium where they have lost four times.
Arnold added: “In the first half we just strangled Wellington, didn’t let them play through midfield like they normally do. It was probably the best 90 minutes overall since I’ve been at the club.”
However, Sydney will be without striker Shane Smeltz for the next two games after he was banned by the FFA’s disciplinary committee for kicking out at Wellington’s Ben Sigmund.
Sydney FC are 2.30 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 3.00, with the draw 3.40.
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