Only a grand final victory will fulfil Arnold's dream
GRAHAM Arnold set his team a goal of 58 points at the start of the A-League season.
After Friday's 1-0 win over closest rival Melbourne Victory, he is five points off his target.
The A-League points record is held by Brisbane Roar with 65 but that was for a 30-round campaign.
With five games to go against Central Coast, Perth Glory, Melbourne City, Wellington and Newcastle Jets, Sydney FC looks well on course to reach the 58-point mark and break the record of 57 for a 27-round season set by cross-city rivals Western Sydney Wanderers in the 2012-13 season.
But while that would be a fantastic achievement by Arnold and his team in a magnificent campaign which has seen the team only lose once so far in the A-League, winning the grand final must be Arnold's ultimate.
The win over Victory has all but secured the Sky Blues a first Premier's Plate since the 2009-2010 season but if Sydney FC does not win a first grand final since the victory over Melbourne Victory in that same season then ultimately the campaign will be seen as a failure.
The Wanderers won the Premier's Plate when they set their points record in 2013 but went on to lose in the grand final to Central Coast Mariners.
The Sky Blues coach has quite rightly hailed his team as the best this season but surely even he would concede that not winning the A-League grand final would be deemed as more than a missed opportunity.
While the minor premiership is Sydney's to lose, the race for the finals places is not so clear cut.
Victory, Perth Glory, Melbourne City and Brisbane Roar all seem assured of a place in the top six but it's anyone's guess which team will fill the sixth spot on the ladder and grab the last finals berth.
Any one of four from Central Coast Mariners in ninth to the Wanderers which currently is in the last playoff spot can reach the finals, with Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle Jets the other two teams in with a shot.
While most eyes will be on whether Sydney FC can break the points record, it should prove to be an exciting run-in to see who grabs that final playoff berth.
The Wanderers are in the box seat at the moment but if they continue to drop points then that will leave the door ajar for one of the other teams.
It certainly makes for an exciting last few regular-season games.