Western United will face Macarthur FC at AAMI Park on Friday night with a first win of the new Isuzu UTE A-League Men season on the line.
Western United vs Macarthur FC
Friday, 21 October
Kick-off: 7:45pm AEDT
AAMI Park, Melbourne
John Aloisi has been forced into two changes to his extended 20-man squad, with Tongo Doumbia and Aleksandar Prijovic coming out due to injury.
That allows Western United captain Alessandro Diamanti to come into the squad. The mercurial Italian is in line for his first appearance since February 20, while youngster Jake Najdovski has also been elevated to the provisional squad.
Western United squad: 1. Jamie YOUNG (gk), 4. Leo LACROIX, 5. Dylan PIERIAS, 8. Lachlan WALES, 9. Dylan WENZEL-HALLS, 10. Steven LUSTICA, 11. Connor PAIN, 14. James TROISI, 17. Ben GARUCCIO, 19. Joshua RISDON, 21. Sebastian PASQUALI, 23. Alessandro DIAMANTI (c) 26. Nicolas MILANOVIC, 27. Jacob TRATT, 33. Ben COLLINS, 37. Ryan SCOTT (gk), 38. Noah BOTIC, 44. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 49. Jake Najdovski 88. Neil KILKENNY
Last time out
Despite a strong first-half showing, United fell to a 3-1 defeat against Sydney FC last time out.
Risdon opened the scoring with just his second goal for the Club before Sydney fought back to score twice before half-time and added another after the break.
The head-to-head battle between the two sides is evenly split, with two wins each and a draw in the five meetings between the competition’s newest sides.
United won the first meeting 4-1 before Macarthur bounced back with two wins in a row, but the Green and Black had the better of the meetings last season with a 2-2 draw and, most recently, a 2-0 win over the Bulls in Tasmania.
Key Matchup: Lachie Wales vs Daniel Arzani
At opposite ends of the pitch, Lachie Wales and Daniel Arzani will look to lead their respective teams to three points and put themselves in the frame for Socceroos selection ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Wales has entered the new season after a strong pre-season campaign and has been lively in both fixtures so far with his pace and skill down the right-hand side.
The 25-year-old as also spent time as the central striker in both matches, looking to stretch the defence with runs in behind while also attempting to create from central positions.
After his dazzling performance in Macarthur’s win last week, United will face a tough assignment in dealing with Arzani at the other end in a battle that could be key to United’s chances of winning the game.
Player to Watch: Neil Kilkenny
Neil Kilkenny has been a shining light in midfield through Western United’s opening two matches and will be looking for a similarly influential performance on Friday night.
Kilkenny has attempted (130) and completed (107) more passes than any of his teammates, one of which resulted in a fine assist for Risdon’s opener against Sydney.
His reading of the game has also been on show early on in the campaign as he leads the team with six interceptions, and he will once again be vital in midfield with his quality and leadership.
Words from John Aloisi
On ensuring the players avoid anxiety in search of maiden win
“Our main message is just focus on the process, on the performance. If you start worrying about the results, it’s human nature that you start to get a little bit anxious.
“We know that playing the way we’re playing and with the group we’ve got, the results will come and we’ll turn the negative results around.”
On the younger players in the squad being ready to take opportunities
“I don’t want to put pressure on those players too much. They will get their opportunities, but they don’t need to put pressure on themselves to perform.
“The younger players should go out there and play with freedom, without that fear of ‘I need to perform, or else I’m not going to play next game’. I don’t want them to play like that.”
Words from the playing squad – Steven Lustica
On United being able to lean on its culture to turn results around
“One thing that we have in this group is we have a great culture. We’re really together, we’ve got a great bunch of boys and obviously we showed that last season. It’s no different this season, and this is the time to show that now.
“One of our biggest strengths is the culture, the togetherness that we have – everyone works for each other. I’m sure in the coming weeks everyone will see that out there.”