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Arnie says Sydney FC must step up for Reds

NZN 18/01/2017 Emma Kemp

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has called for improvements against Adelaide after his A-League leaders had failed to hit top gear in last weekend's derby.

The Sky Blues have a golden opportunity on Friday night to reassert their standing at the summit against the lowly Reds, three days after second-placed Melbourne Victory's loss to the Phoenix in Wellington.

Five points still separate the league's top two and Sydney can make it eight with a win at Allianz Stadium.

Arnold was adamant he cared little for Victory's movements ahead of next week's blockbuster Big Blue, although he warned his trailblazing team must rediscover the attacking zeal that went amiss in Saturday's stalemate with Western Sydney.

The hosts couldn't make a flurry of chances count, with Brazilian marquee Bobo particularly off the pace while star playmaker Milos Ninkovic was unusually quiet.

While declining to single out players, Arnold made it clear he wasn't happy with the performance and repeated his weekly refrain that the group remained at 60-70 per cent capacity.

"There's a lot of things to look at and improve on," Arnold said.

"The first 20 minutes were very good but, after that, our standards dropped a little."

Arnold said set pieces and the final pass were the focus in training this week as Sydney looked to put pressure on an Adelaide side riding on their stunning 2-1 upset of Melbourne City.

"I think we've only scored two goals off set pieces and we conceded two goals from set pieces against the Mariners (this month), one defensively and one on the attack when we took a corner and got hit in transition," Arnold said.

"And our final ball let us down - we had 44 entries into the Wanderers' penalty box and we need to make better use of that."

Defence was the one area Arnold was happy with - Sydney have conceded seven goals in 15 games - and expected young central defender Aaron Calver to get another start in the absence of Matt Jurman (departed), Seb Ryall (hamstring) and Dutch recruit Jordy Buijs (waiting on visa).

"Calver was exceptional against the Wanderers," Arnold said.

"I know the kid's got talent, he's got a lot of speed at the back and he's performed well for this club before.

"There's no reason why he won't start."

Josh Brillante returns from suspension and will compete with Brandon O'Neill and Milos Dimitrijevic for a midfield berth.

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