Preview: Sydney FC v Adelaide United

It might be stating the obvious but Sydney need to show more resilience and urgency in defence if they are to stop the rot.

Date: Friday, November 23, 2012 Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney Head-to-head: Played 23: Wins: Sydney FC 11, Adelaide 9, Draws: 3

Previous encounter: Adelaide 1-2 Sydney, February 19, 2012

Form: Past five matches: Sydney FC: LLLWW Adelaide: WDWWL

The Game It might still be too early in the season to write their campaign off with another loss but Sydney must start to show some improvements soon. The Sky Blues are already four points adrift of the top six and a few more losses will give the new coach plenty of work to do to turn things around.

Last Friday night's 4-2 loss to Brisbane was the club's third on the trot and fifth from just seven games. Sydney can take some heart from the fact they were unbeaten against Adelaide last season and they enjoy the better of the head-to-head record. But the Reds have proved to be a much tougher proposition this season and have game-breakers all over the park.

Sydney should be boosted by the return of experienced central-defender Adam Griffiths, while young midfielder Terry Antonis is also fit again. But the biggest in could be former Qantas Socceroos midfielder Jason Culina who looks set for a spot on the bench, almost two years since his last competitive hit-out.

Adelaide's squad is far more settled and it would be highly unlikely that coach John Kosmina will make any changes to the side that beat Melbourne Heart 1-0 last weekend.

The big issue Sydney: It might be stating the obvious but Sydney need to show more resilience and urgency in defence if they are to stop the rot. The numbers tell the story - 14 goals conceded in the past three games and 20 for the season. It's just not good enough if they want to play finals football.

And it's not just the back four that need to improve, with more protection from the midfielders a good start. With Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero firing they have had no trouble scoring goals so interim coach Steve Corica should have been doing nothing but defensive drills this week.

Adelaide: All is going swimmingly with the Reds but if there's one area for concern for Kosmina it could be keeping his squad happy.

Strikers Bruce Djite and Sergio van Dijk can't break into the team at the moment and won't be content to sit on the bench - or out of the squad altogether - for much longer.

The likes of Jon McKain and Zenon Caravella are also set to return soon and will want first-team action. Kossie will need to keep all the squad's egos in check if the Reds are to keep their splendid run going.

The game breaker Jeronimo Neumann: He's got the best name in the Hyundai A-League and the Argentine has been a shining light in the Reds' rise to the top of the table. It's not just his goals (Jeronimo has netted four times), which have been so important but the 26-year-old has also chipped in with a couple of assists in the opening seven rounds.

Jeronimo's form has been so good he is keeping both Djite and van Dijk out of the side and he will relish the chance to attack Sydney's porous defence.

Prediction: Sydney 1-2 Adelaide One side is without a coach, leaking goals at a rate of knots and stranded on the bottom of the ladder while the other is on a four-game unbeaten run and setting the pace at the top of the league. Should be a formality right? Well maybe not.

There's no doubt the Reds deserve to be warm favourites but surely Sydney can't play any worse than they have the past few weeks. The return of a couple of key players will also help the home side's cause. But will it be enough? Probably not.