Arnold: Prepare for "battle" against Wanderers

CENTRAL Coast Mariners boss Graham Arnold says his side will need to be ready for an intense “battle” when they travel to Parramatta Stadium for Hyundai A-League round 15 against Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday.

CENTRAL Coast Mariners boss Graham Arnold says his side will need to be ready for an intense “battle” when they travel to Parramatta Stadium for Hyundai A-League round 15 against Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday.

Arnold visited the boisterous home base of the A-League-s new boys on New Year-s Day to begin his process of analysing Tony Popovic-s team ahead of the mid-campaign contest, and was duly impressed by the red and blacks- capacity to dominate their respected round 14 opponents, Melbourne Victory.

“It-s funny that a lot of people underestimated what Western Sydney can do,” Arnold said on Friday. “I-ve got a few headaches to come up with the starting line-up, and we know we have to go out there and be ready for the physical battle.”

“John Kosmina came out after they (Adelaide United) lost and said they were bullied by Western Sydney. I was at the game on the weekend and I felt Melbourne Victory at times were being physically out battled as well.”

“So we have to make sure that we are ready for the fight and ready for the battle because that-s what Western Sydney are all about.”

Central Coast Mariners and Western Sydney Wanderers appear to share a similar all for one, one for all ethos, which perhaps partly explains why both are currently sitting pretty in the upper echelons of Australia-s top flight.

And while Arnold recognises Popovic has taken little time to instil a combative culture into his team, he is also well aware of the threat posed by Japanese creative, Shinji Ono, as well as Western Sydney-s legion of experienced foreigners and former Qantas Socceroos.

“He-s been in real hot form,” Arnold said of Ono. “If you look at their result against Adelaide, he scored a couple and set up a couple and last week against the Victory he scored two great goals.”

“Tony (Popovic) has obviously let him take his time to settle into the team down there at Western Sydney (and) he-s done exceptionally well for them.”

“We will need to be on our toes on the weekend to probably play the form team of the competition.”

“To underestimate them at the start of the year I think was disrespectful, but to see what they are doing down there is fantastic.”

For Arnold, it is no surprise the Wanderers are enjoying success in their debut season under the guidance of his former Qantas Socceroos colleague and Sanfrecce Hiroshima teammate, Popovic.

“I know Poppa very well, he-s like my little brother,” Arnold said. “I-ve grown up with him.”

“He-s obsessed by the sport and is a real student of the game. It is no surprise that he has done this type of job down at Western Sydney.”

In team news, Mariners captain John Hutchinson and leading goalscorer Daniel McBreen are both available for selection again having served their respective one-match bans incurred against Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on December 27. Tomas Rogic is suspended for a further two-games.

Meanwhile, the impressive Zac Anderson will continue to partner Trent Sainsbury in the heart of the Central Coast defence with Arnold preferring to give Dutch defender Patrick Zwaanswijk optimum time to recover from a groin strain sustained on Boxing Day.

“Patrick could nearly play on Sunday but at 37 we-ll give him an extra week to make sure the injury doesn-t come back. It-s probably the safest thing to do at this time of the season.”

Arnold believes the match against Western Sydney - the teams first in 2013 - marks the symbolic commencement of a crucial but also exciting period in the Club-s relatively short, yet proud history.

“The next four months are a massive challenge for us,” he said.

“Not only do we have to contend with the A-League but also we have to contend with the AFC Champions League and we-ve got a lot of football to play.”

“Our first goal is to try and get another six points to consolidate our spot to make sure we get in the top six.”

“We have a big challenge ahead but it-s one that the players will relish and embrace. We-re looking forward to the exciting times.”

Western Sydney Wanderers Squad: 1. Ante Covic (GK), 2. Shannon Cole, 3. Adam D-Apuzo, 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 6. Jerome Polenz, 7. Labinot Haliti, 8. Mateo Poljak, 10. Aaron Mooy 11. Tarek Elrich, 13. Joey Gibbs, 14. Kwabena Appiah-Kubi, 15. Reece Caira, 18. Iacopo La Rocca, 19. Mark Bridge, 20. Jerrad Tyson (GK), 21. Shinji Ono, 23. Jason Trifiro *two to be omitted

In: Aaron Mooy (return from suspension)

Out: Michael Beauchamp (suspended - 1 week), Youssouf Hersi (suspended - 1 week), Dino Kresinger (knee)

Unavailable: Tahj Minniecon (foot)

Central Coast Mariners Squad: 1. Mathew Ryan (Gk), 2. Daniel McBreen, 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Zachary Anderson, 7. John Hutchinson (c), 8. Adriano Pellegrino, 9. Bernie Ibini, 11. Oliver Bozanic, 13. Brent Griffiths, 14. Michael McGlinchey, 15. Brad McDonald, 16. Trent Sainsbury, 17. Anthony Caceres, 18. Nick Montgomery, 19. Mitchell Duke, 20. Justin Pasfield (Gk), 21. Mile Sterjovski, 23. Adam Kwasnik *four to be omitted

In: 2 Daniel McBreen, 7. John Hutchinson (both return from suspension), 15. Brad McDonald, 17. Anthony Caceres (both promoted)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk (Groin - 1 week), 10. Tomas Rogic (suspended), 22. James Oates (Ankle - 2 months)

Western Sydney Wanderers vs. Central Coast Mariners - Hyundai A-League Round 15 Sunday 6 January, 2013 Parramatta Stadium, Parramatta Kick-off: 6:00pm Transport: Official Central Coast Mariners supporter buses will be running to the match. CLICK HERE for details and bookings. Twitter: Join the match conversation on Twitter. The official hashtag is #WSWvCCM Referee: Chris Beath TV: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1HD and Sky Sport 3. Radio: 92.5 ABC Central Coast and Grandstand Digital Sydney & Online; 96.3 Coast FM (www.coastfm.org.au)