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Unflattering stats Wanderers are desperate to change

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A-League: Victory veteran Archie Thompson previews the Sydney Derby between sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers.

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Markus Babbel. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

Most Sydney derby enthusiasts will cite a lengthy string of lopsided results as evidence of Sydney FC’s dominance.

Like the fact Western Sydney have won only one of the past 17 crosstown exchanges in all competitions, or that the Sky Blues have outscored the Wanderers 19-5 in their last seven unbeaten games.

But a closer look at when derby goals are scored reveals the extent to which Sydney have demonstrated a superior capacity to close out games against their fiercest rivals.

In the last 13 derbies dating back to 2015, the Wanderers have scored only two goals in the final hour compared with Sydney’s 23.

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Western Sydney Wanderers coach Markus Babbel. Picture: AAP

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Markus Babbel. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

In the past four years the red and black have managed just one second-half goal.

That was this April, when since-defected playmaker Alex Baumjohann netted in the 57th minute at ANZ Stadium to cancel Alex Brosque’s opener and seal a 1-1 draw.

The last time before then was January 2016, when Dario Vidosic scored a 58th-minute equaliser, though even that was negated by Shane Smeltz’s 90th-minute winner.

In the 11 derbies since, including last year’s FFA Cup semi-final, the Wanderers have scored a total seven goals – all in the first 45 minutes apart from Baumjohann’s most recent effort.

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Of those seven, only Brendon Santalab’s 26th-minute strike in February 2017 ended in a Wanderers win – a 1-0 result that snapped the Sky Blues’ 19-match unbeaten run and nine-game undefeated derby streak.

Sydney FC’s Brandon O’Neill challenges the Wanderers’ Keanu Baccus during their last meeting, in April last season. The match finished 1-1. Picture: Getty Images

Sydney FC’s Brandon O’Neill challenges the Wanderers’ Keanu Baccus during their last meeting, in April last season. The match finished 1-1. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Over the same period Sydney have amassed 24 goals, of which 15 came in the final 45 minutes of play.

The statistics suggest Steve Corica’s side boast unmatched derby fitness and ability to get the job done at the death.

That said, Western Sydney enter Saturday’s showdown in unfamiliarly favourable territory.

Never before this season have the Wanderers opened a campaign with back-to-back wins, and this is the first time since March 2013 that they’ll play an A-League derby on the back of successive victories.

Furthermore, the manner of those 2-1 results will have impressed coach Markus Babbel, with three of their four goals scored after halftime, indicating the team’s problematic late fade-outs may be consigned to the past.

Western Sydney Wanderers defender Ryan McGowan (left) and his brother, Sydney FC defender Dylan, will face off in Saturday night’s Sydney derby. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Western Sydney Wanderers defender Ryan McGowan (left) and his brother, Sydney FC defender Dylan, will face off in Saturday night’s Sydney derby. Picture: Jonathan NgSource:News Corp Australia

The Sky Blues, meanwhile, were on the ropes for much of the second half in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Wellington.

But, in the same way Ryan McGowan’s last-gasp header secured a 3-2 opening-round triumph away to Adelaide, Rhyan Grant’s late volley got the job done against the Phoenix.

And the right-back backed his reigning champions in to continue their derby dominance, even at the Wanderers’ new Bankwest Stadium fortress.

“I don’t really want to throw fuel on the fire, the record speaks for itself,” Grant said.

“Then again, in these games anything can happen.

“We’re always confident no matter who we play but those games are always difficult and it’s always a bit fiery and what not.”

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