Sydney FC Head Coach Graham Arnold has done a great job rebuilding the Sky Blues for the 10th A-League season, starting on Friday. He spoke to FMF about his thoughts on Sydney FC leading into the start of the campaign.

How has Sydney FC been shaping up this pre-season?

The team is definitely looking good. We’ve been training well, we’ve brought a lot of pace into the squad, and I’m impressed with how we’ve been keeping possession in the right areas of the park. I’ve watched some of the highlights from the Wanderers latest matches, and I can confirm that we’re firmly ahead of them. We’re the stronger-looking team and I don’t expect that to change throughout the season. We’ve also made some great signings, and yesterday’s signing has completed our squad, while I believe the Wanderers are still a player short in their roster.

What preparations have you made in case David Villa starts for Melbourne City?

David Villa is an exceptional player, and someone we will need to keep an eye on, but we have marquees of our own. Brosque and Janko will be firing on all cylinders come this Saturday and I don’t see us having any problems overcoming City. Just look at the Wanderers, who have only managed to sign one marquee this season, and he’ll be missing due to injury. Not to mention, he’s only a defender – the Wanderers clearly will be lacking in firepower. They’re going to have to be careful with the derby only just around the corner.

Your FFA Cup campaign has been successful thus far. How do you see yourself in the next match up against Adelaide United?

Josep Gombau has introduced some great play into Adelaide and it will be a tough match, especially with us having the derby against the Wanderers only three days before it. But we’ve been preparing well for that, so I expect us to win and carry that confidence into the FFA cup quarter final. The Wanderers were knocked out of the FFA Cup by a team from Adelaide and we’re keen not to follow their example.

You’ve had a strong pre-season, having lost only one match. Do you expect to carry that into your A-League campaign?

That’s absolutely what we expect from the boys. This pre-season has been great for our confidence, especially as we played some high-quality opponents such as West Ham United, Brisbane Roar and Macarthur Rams. You just have to look at the Wanderers pre-season to see how well we’re doing. They were the only A-League side to lose to a lower tier team in the FFA Cup, they lost to Guangzhou Evergrande in the 2nd leg of the ACL quarter final, and have not faced a single A-League side. They will be under-prepared for this season.

Can Sydney FC win the championship?

Of course we can. This is what we’ve trained for all pre-season, and what I remind the players of every day. It’s the ultimate prize. I got a taste of it at the Central Coast Mariners, and I want it again. I’ve made it clear that if the Wanderers can make back-to-back finals with the quality of the squads they’ve fielded, our squad can do it in our sleep. But it’s also important to go all the way, and we won’t be making the same mistake the Wanderers have made twice now. I beat them in 2012 and I’m going to beat them again this season.

Your cross-town rivals, the Wanderers, are in the ACL final. What are your thoughts on that?

To be honest, I don’t have any comments on that. I like to focus on my own club.