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Wilkinson leading Sydney FC from the back

NZN 4/05/2017 Emma Kemp

Graham Arnold can yell pretty loud.

But if he can't be heard over a fervent grand-final crowd on Sunday, at least the Sydney FC coach knows he'll have an experienced voice calling the shots in defence.

It's a responsibility Alex Wilkinson has carried with poise this season and will once again at Allianz Stadium, when lines up against Melbourne Victory.

The centre-back is one of the foundations on which Sydney's record-breaking defence has been built. A cool head, flush with the experience of two K-League titles, 16 Socceroos caps and three A-League season-deciders.

To turn his fourth in to a maiden championship, he and fellow defenders Jordy Buijs, Rhyan Grant and Michael Zullo must shackle Victory's formidable attacking quartet, spearheaded by big-game striker Besart Berisha.

As the Sky Blues go about their business, Wilkinson will be one important set of his coach's on-field eyes and ears.

"Every week we tweak little things depending on who we're playing," Wilkinson said.

"But once we're out on the pitch things can change pretty quickly, and if the opposition change formation or the way they're playing things might need to be tweaked out there.

"That's why myself, Vuka, Brosquey and the other experienced guys can tweak things without having to go in and wait until halftime - sometimes that can be too long to wait.

"Arnie relies on the senior boys to be his eyes out there as well."

It won't be lost on the Victory that in their three home-and-away losses to Sydney this season, Kevin Muscat's men have scored only two goals.

All up, Sydney have conceded just three at Allianz all season and smashed the competition records for most clean sheets (16) and fewest goals conceded (12).

It's a hat-tip to their high-pressing style and near-flawless defensive unit, bolstered by A-League goalkeeper of the year Danny Vukovic.

"At the start of the year we wanted to make Allianz a really difficult place to come to, it was actually a goal to be undefeated at home," Wilkinson said.

"Victory will say it's a one-off game, but of course we'll take a lot of confidence from beating them three times ... and we'll have a huge crowd there.

"All those little things work in our favour and they'll have to come up here and beat us on our own patch, which no one's done yet."

Wilkinson chuckles at suggestions he's maturing like a fine wine, preferring to concentrate on a first A-League title in his debut season with the club.

The 32-year-old was on the losing side in his three previous grand finals with Central Coast in 2006, 2008 and 2011 and had departed for Jeonbuk Motors by the time Arnold led the Mariners to championship glory in 2013.

"I couldn't have dreamt for a better first season in my home town," he said.

"Hopefully I'm getting better and have a few more years left in me, but so far so good.

"I just want to cap it off now with one more win."

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