Sydney FC are fittest in A-League, like 'hunters' - Graham Arnold
Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has embraced his team's busy early season schedule and declared they are still setting standards in the A-League for others to follow.
The Sky Blues play their first home game of their title defence on Sunday against Wellington Phoenix.
Sydney won both games, and Arnold had no qualms about backing up quickly.
"Four-day turnarounds, Saturday, Wednesday to Sunday is great for us and the players. There's been minimal training," Arnold said.
"We stayed down in Melbourne for six nights to minimise the travelling aspect of the week, and the boys are raring to go, they are in top shape.
"We're the fittest team in the country."
Sydney dominated the 2016-17 A-League competition, establishing a slew of records on their way to winning the Premiers Plate and the Grand Final.
Those feats would normally leave them with a massive target on their back, with opposing clubs assuming the roles of the hunters.
Arnold isn't buying it.
"No one hunts us. We hunt them (and) we're on the front foot," Arnold said.
"We don't think about people hunting us, we go out and we hunt them, we put the pressure on them.
"We know what we can do and we know that if we play to our ability, which we will, no one can hurt us."
He is concentrating more on his own side than on the challenge presented by the Phoenix. The New Zealand side will have Gui Finkler returning from injury and Michael McGlinchey, Thomas Doyle and Andrew Durante all back from international duty.
"We've got 19 players out of 20 fit and ready to go, so I've got a few headaches overnight in the side that I select after a good performance against South Melbourne," Arnold said.
"But we need to get much better than that and much greater than that and we will."
Arnold said former Socceroos defender Luke Wilkshire would start after being rested from the FFA Cup game.