Stats preview: Rudan’s subtle style change evident for Western United FC

It was one of the standout moments of last season and a turning point for Mark Rudan’s former side Wellington Phoenix.

Despite four games without a win, the Kiwi club came to Sydney FC and shocked the Sky Blues with a 3-1 win to kick-start their historic campaign.

The full-throttle, direct, attacking style which was too hot for Steve Corcia's side to handle on that day and it was a method Rudan employed for the rest of the season as the ‘Nix reached the Hyundai A-League Finals Series for the first time in five years.

But Rudan’s approach with new club Western United FC appears very different so far, at least according to the stats we’ve obtained via our friends at Opta.

While Rudan’s Phoenix looked to win possession and go forward as quickly as possible last season, it’s been a far more patient style the highly-rated coach has used at United.

Percentage of passes forward 

Wellington 2018/19 

39.4% 

3rd in A-League 

Western United 2019/20 

32.7% 

10th in A-League


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As the table above show, Rudan’s Wellington played almost 40% of the passes forward in 2018/19, the third most in the competition.

That number is almost 7% lower with United so far in this campaign, which ranks them 10th in the Hyundai A-League.

Another statistic which reinforces Rudan’s more measured approach in Melbourne is the amount of passes United have made in their own half.

United have averaged 254.29 passes in their own half per match in 2019/20 so far, compared to just 163.32 passes by the Phoenix in their own territory last season.

It must be pointed out that the change in approach has affected the potency of Rudan’s side.

MATCH PREVIEW: Western United FC v Sydney FC
MORE: Sydney FC ranked among Australasia's best sporting teams

WATCH: Diamanti scores his first Western United goal

United rank second in the Hyundai A-League for chances created this season, with skipper Alessandro Diamanti playing a decisive role.

The Italian star has been involved in 409 pass sequences in the first seven rounds, with only Perth Glory’s Neil Kilkenny involved in more.

While wingbacks Josh Risdon and Connor Pain have the next most involvements – underlining their importance to United’s style – more of Diamanti’s touches lead to shots than any other player in the league. 

Meanwhile, the only Sydney FC player on that list, ranked eighth this season, is midfielder Brandon O’Neill, who actually led the league in passing-sequence involvements last season.

O’Neill’s drop in the rankings says more about other teams' changing style than the Sky Blues playing differently this season. 

O’Neill remains key to Sydney FC’s success, leading the Hyundai A-League with four assists in six matches so far in 2019/20.

MOST PASSING SEQUENCE INVOLVEMENT 

Neil Kilkenny 

PER 

415 

Alessandro Diamanti 

WUN 

409 

Scott Galloway 

MCY 

382 

Scott Jamieson 

MCY 

371 

Connor Pain 

WUN 

364 

Diego Castro 

PER 

348 

Scott Neville 

BRI 

343 

Brandon O’Neill 

SYD 

340 

John O’Shea 

BRI 

336 

Macauley Gillesphey 

BRI 

333 

Josh Risdon  

WUN 

332 


Western United play host to Sydney FC on Sunday, 1 December at GMHBA Stadium. The Round 9 clash kicks off at 4pm AEDT.
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Find out more at the Match Centre
 

No travel sickness for Glory

Friday night’s clash with Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park looms as a real season-defining clash for both the hosts and Perth Glory.

With both clubs currently outside the top six, it’s a crucial three points on the line. And despite being away from home, it’s Glory who may head into this one with more confidence.

Tony Popovic’s men have lost just one of their last 18 Hyundai A-League away games, winning 10 of those encounters.

Importantly, two of those wins came against Victory at AAMI Park last season, including a 3-2 thriller in which Chris Ikonomidis scored a stoppage-time winner.

Compounding matters for Victory is their current form, without a win in their last four matches, picking up only one point in that time.

If Marco Kurz’s men fail to get maximum points on Friday night, it will be their worst run of Hyundai A-League form in almost two years.

MATCH PREVIEW: Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory

Melbourne Victory host Perth Glory in Round 8 on Friday, 29 November. Kick-off at AAMI Park is at 7.30pm AEDT.
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WATCH: Reddy - 'last season's Victory win was a turning point'

The stat that shows why Mariners can end their Roar hoodoo

If there’s one fixture that has been unkind to Central Coast Mariners in recent seasons it’s their battles with Brisbane Roar.

There’s just something about taking on Roar which doesn’t sit right with the Gosford club, who are winless in the last 15 clashes between the two clubs.

The Mariners have picked up just four draws in that run.

But there’s no doubt there’s more steel to Alen Stajcic’s Mariners side, who have racked up more blocked shots (40) than any other side in 2019/20.

In contrast, Roar have blocked the fewest shots for the campaign with just 10.

It proves the players are willing to put their body on the line for the cause, never more evident than in last week’s 1-0 win over Western United, which was the Mariners’ first clean sheet in 39 games.

MATCH PREVIEW: Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners

Brisbane Roar take on Central Coast Mariners in Round 8 on Saturday, 30 November. Kick-off at Suncorp Stadium is at 4pm local and 5pm AEDT.
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Mariners celebrate their goal
The Mariners are chasing a drought-breaking win against the Roar

The key Jets man to unlock the Wanderers

Youngster Angus Thurgate was Newcastle Jets’ match-winner last time out but it could be a more established star that leads the way against Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night.

Playmaker Dimitri Petratos is a chief creator for the Jets, and he loves playing against the side from Sydney’s west.

Since Opta starting recording data in the 2012/13 Season, Petratos has created 33 scoring chances in matches against the Wanderers, which is his most against any club.

It’s that sort of impact which has helped the Jets go unbeaten in their last six matches against the Wanderers, winning four and drawing two, scoring 17 goals in the process.

MATCH PREVIEW: Newcastle Jets v Western Sydney Wanderers


If Ernie Merrick’s men are to keep that run going, they should aim to keep the ball on the McDonald Jones surface as much as possible.

That’s because the Wanderers have dominated their aerial duels in 2019/20, winning 144 of them – the most of any side in the competition – and 45 more than the Hunter club (99).

A strong start could decide this one. The Jets have scored 80% of their goals this season (4/5) in the first half, while the Wanderers have never trailed at the break in their six matches this season.

Newcastle Jets host Western Sydney Wanderers in Round 8 on Saturday, 30 November. Kick-off at McDonald Jones Stadium is at 7.30pm AEDT.
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Dimitri Petratos
The Wanderers will need to shut down Jets playmaker Dimitri Petratos

Reds’ winning run set to continue

They are enjoying their best run of form since they won the Hyundai A-League title and history suggests Adelaide United should make it five straight wins this weekend.

The Reds are hosting Wellington Phoenix at Coopers Stadium on Sunday, a team they haven’t lost to in the league since November 2015.

That’s a run of 11 straight games, which includes seven victories.

If Gertjan Verbeek’s side do make it five wins on the bounce, it will be their best run of form since May 2016, when they lifted the Premiers Plate.

After losing their first four matches of the campaign, the Phoenix are unbeaten in their last two – with a win against Brisbane Roar following up their draw against Melbourne Victory.

And you can be sure they will get stuck in. Wellington boast the best tackle success rate (63/99 – 64%) of any team in the competition this season.

MATCH PREVIEW: Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix

Adelaide United host Wellington Phoenix in Round 8 on Sunday, 1 December. Kick-off at Coopers Stadium is at 5.30pm local, 6pm AEDT.
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Find out more in the Match Centre here

Jakob Poulsen skips past a couple of Phoenix defenders
Phoenix have the best tackle-success rate in the competition