Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold reacts following a win.
Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold reacts following a win. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Can Sky Blues handle the pressure?

AFTER Sydney FC's impressive 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory in the Big Blue on Australia Day, the question on most A-League fans' lips is "can the Sky Blues go through the season unbeaten?".

The answer is that of course they can become the country's first invincibles, but whether they will is a completely different kettle of fish.

Quite rightly Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold is pumping up his team, which now has not lost in 18 games, including the final league clash of last season.

He has also said he is not interested in targeting the Premier's Plate, which surely is Sydney's to lose after going 11 points clear.

Arnold is, however, keen on reaching 57 points - the best total achieved by a team for a season in a 10-team league.

He knows it will be tough with 10 games remaining to keep the unbeaten record intact but he seems confident enough.

"We have 30 points to go," he said, after watching his team come back from 1-0 down to beat the Victory on Thursday night.

"I'm driving the players to be the best in A-League history.

"In a 10-team competition the most returned has been 57 and we want to beat that.

"So we don't talk about coming first or the Premiers' Plate, it's all about getting more than 57 points."

It's great that Arnold has given his team a target but the toughest thing facing the Sky Blues now is injuries and pressure.

So far this season, Sydney has not had too many injury problems to deal with, which is always key to a successful campaign.

Arnold's team has had its fair share of luck too, which is another key to keeping an unbeaten record intact.

The biggest factor in all of this, though, is the closer they get to the end of the season and the longer the unbeaten run goes on, the more pressure the players will feel.

That will be the hardest thing for Arnold to keep under control.

It does not get any easier with games against Brisbane, Western Sydney, Melbourne City (twice) and the Victory to come in the final 10 games of the season.

But Arnold will say to his team, "we have beaten these teams before this season and we can do again".

One thing is for sure. The last 10 games will be interesting.

Let's hope the unbeaten run can go on for a bit longer yet.

News Corp Australia


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