Arnold defends defensive derby win

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Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has defended his sides stifling, unattractive 2-1 win over rivals Western Sydney Wanderers in a tense Sydney derby at Pirtek Stadium.

A defence stacked deep with minimal options moving forward proved a difficult task for the Wanderers to break down. Yet despite all their pressure, it was the visitors, who never looked like scoring, who would take home all three points thanks to a 90th minute strike by Hyundai A-League veteran Shane Smeltz.

“I came here for three points”, proclaimed Arnold as the media questioned his overly cagey performance in the post match press conference.

“Tonight was a real football match. You need a defensive plan when you play the Wanderers, we had that tonight and I think we controlled and won well”.

For Tony Popovic’s men, last night’s loss took the tally to three straight defeats against the Sky Blue’s leading many to question whether the Westerners struggle mentally against their cross-town rivals.

“Maybe they’re our bogey team” postulated a confused Popovic as he searched for where his side fell short.

“We didn’t take our chances, and we got punished. They came into our box once each half and scored each time… We dominated, kept the ball and created chances but we couldn’t finish”.

The result sees Sydney FC draw level with the Western Sydney Wanderers on the Hyundai A-League ladder, as Popa’s men have failed to find a win in five matches, a regress from their early season form. However, the former Socceroo remains positive.

“If we keep playing this way, the derby results will come”.

For Arnold one thing is sure, a solid defensive foundation is bringing results.

“Our plan at the start of this season has been to tighten up the defence, especially from last year. You can’t expect to win championships with poor defence”.

“We showed a huge amount of resilience tonight, something I haven’t seen at Sydney FC since I’ve been here. That determination, steel and grit – I’m very happy”.

Sydney FC draw level with the Western Sydney Wanderers and will be looking forward to capitalise next week against Melbourne Victory in the Big Blue.

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George Vlotis
UTS Journalism graduate and football fanatic. Ex-NSW premier league player and now fortunate enough to be reporting on the A-League. Sydney is Sky Blue. Follow me @VlotisGeorge

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