Western United will be out to bounce back in the Isuzu UTE A-League Men, travelling to face Macarthur FC in Round 3 action on Saturday night.
Isuzu UTE A-League Men Round 3
Macarthur FC vs Western United
Saturday, 4 November
Kick-off: 5:30pm AEDT
Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Campbelltown
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live on Paramount+
John Aloisi has received a big boost to his squad with Nikita Rukavytsya in line to make his Western United debut this weekend.
The Socceroos striker is included in the extended squad for the first time having built his fitness over the past month since arriving at the Club.
Former Macarthur man Michael Ruhs will be hoping to feature against his old side, while the likes of Ramy Najjarine and Sebastian Pasquali will hope to break into the starting XI.
Western United squad: 1. Tom HEWARD-BELLE (gk), 6. Tomoki IMAI, 7. Ramy NAJJARINE, 8. Lachie WALES, 9. Michael RUHS, 10. Steven LUSTICA, 11. Daniel PENHA, 13. Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 17. Ben GARUCCIO, 19. Josh RISDON, 21. Sebastian PASQUALI, 22. Kane VIDMAR, 24. Connor O’TOOLE, 27. Jacob TRATT, 32. Angus THURGATE, 33. Matt SUTTON (gk), 38. Noah BOTIC, 39. Matthew GRIMALDI, 42. Rhys BOZINOVSKI, 77. Riku DANZAKI
Last time out
It was a difficult night for Western United last time out, falling to a 5-0 defeat against Western Sydney Wanderers.
All of the damage was done in the first half and United improved significantly after half-time. Aloisi and his staff will be hoping the players continue on from that second half and carry that performance into the meeting with Macarthur.
Western United vs Macarthur is the only fixture that has produced more draws than wins or defeats for the Green and Black, with three ties in the seven meetings so far.
The sides share two wins each against the other, but United hasn’t lost to Macarthur for over two years and will hope to extend the unbeaten run against the Bulls to five matches.
Key Matchup: Daniel Penha vs Ivan Vujica
Daniel Penha has done just about everything but score or assist through his first two matches in Western United colours, and this could be the week he breaks his duck.
While not credited with the official assist, Penha set Lachie Wales up for his opener against Melbourne City in Round 1 and has been a constant threat in attack.
His ability to drift into central areas and pick a pass or a shot on goal has made him a handful for defences, and he will be hoping to get the better of an in-form Ivan Vujica.
The former Western United man has had great joy at Macarthur, winning the club’s player of the year award in his first season in 2022/23.
That earned him a two-year extension in the off-season and with 180 minutes already under his belt this season, he will be hoping he can carry on that run of form.
But Penha will be coming at him from all angles on Saturday and the Brazilian will be desperate to open his Western United account and help his side to a bounce-back win.
Player to Watch: Nikita Rukavytsya
While building his fitness over the last number of weeks since his arrival, Rukavytsya has consistently shown glimpses of his quality on the training pitch.
Now up to speed physically, the Socceroos star is ready to bring his quality into play and will be gearing up to make his Western United debut this weekend.
Whether from the start or off the bench, Rukavytsya will be eager to use his blistering pace and deadly finishing to have an impact in the final third.
All eyes will be on his return to Australian domestic football and, alongside the likes of Noah Botic and Penha up front, Rukavytsya will be itching to mark that return with a positive display and a win.
Words from John Aloisi
On the response of the group during the week after the Western Sydney result
“This week, it’s all been about our response and how we’re going to react from that result. We know it wasn’t what we wanted, and the first half was a bit of a shock.
“The second half performance was good, we know that we lost the game but it was about the boys sticking together and working for each other. We expect the same this week, and we’re actually really looking forward to it.”
On Nikita Rukavytsya being involved for the first time
“It’s exciting. He’s been looking really good in training. We’re excited to have Nikita involved.
“He’s very quick and he’s an intelligent footballer who has been around for a long time now, and he’ll help the other players around him which is important.”