Sydney FC loaning ANZ to Wanderers: Arnold
Photo Source: AAP
Last season, Graham Arnold mocked Western Sydney's Pirtek Stadium as a "little shed".
Now he's tried claim their new A-League home as his own, declaring ANZ Stadium actually belongs to the Sky Blues.
Unsurprisingly, Arnold threw the first barb ahead of Saturday's blockbuster Sydney derby.
The headline opening-round clash will be held at ANZ Stadium where, along with Spotless Stadium, the Wanderers will play home matches while Pirtek is knocked down and rebuilt.
A year ago, Arnold launched one of his famous verbal projectiles by welcoming his cross-town rivals to Sydney's "mansion", apparently aiding their escape from Parramatta's corrugated-iron dwelling.
Asked on Wednesday to describe ANZ Stadium - which boasts nearly double the capacity of Sydney's Allianz Stadium - he took a different tack.
"It's our stadium," Arnold said.
"We're loaning the Wanderers our stadium for the game.
"We've played Chelsea and Tottenham there; we played Newcastle there last year.
"So it's more our stadium than theirs because we've been on it more than them."
While the words will surely mean precious little to Wanderers coach Tony Popovic, recent history suggests Sydney might have the wood over last season's grand finalists.
When the teams kick off, it will have been 1001 days since Western Sydney won a Sydney derby, in January 2014.
The match also follows a successful pre-season for a revamped Sydney squad, in contrast to the Wanderers' mixed results and 4-1 FFA Cup thumping by Melbourne City.
Arnold reiterated his mantra that form went out the window in the heat of derbies, but said strong pre-season displays had boosted his players' confidence.
"If we do have one little edge on them it's our experience in the derby," he said.
"They've got 15 or 16 new players this year and it will be a new experience for them.
"(Suspended captain) Nikolai Topor-Stanley will be a big loss for them.
"He's their leader and he knows what derbies are about.
"My biggest concern - if there is any - is what starting XI do I put out out there when I've got 15-16 players fighting for first-team spots?"
Western Sydney officials have forecast a crowd of at least 60,000, which would easily break the record for any competitive club football match in Australia.
Most spectators are expected to be clad in red and black, and Sky Blues skipper Alex Brosque has told his team to use the atmosphere as fuel for on-field hate.
"You definitely can get too hyped, you feel the anticipation and excitement that comes into this game," Brosque said at the club's season launch.
"I'd be lying if I said you treat it like any other game.
"We go out there, and I've told the boys previously in games, we hate every single one of them."