Western Sydney Wanderers have dropped points for the first time this campaign as they drew 1-1 with Brisbane Roar on Saturday evening at Commbank Stadium.
Brisbane Roar began the match with a couple of good opportunities.
Star striker Charlie Austin manouvered himself into a good position to shoot on the edge of the box but scuffed his shot, while Joe Knowles hit the post in a one on one a minute later.
However, it was the home side who opened the scoring, as Bosnian striker Sulejman Krpić latched onto a straight ball in behind from captain Marcelo and converted clinically to give the Wanderers the lead in the fifth minute.
Five minutes into the second half, Brisbane Roar equalised, after a fantastic run from Knowles saw his cutback find the clinical boot of Charlie Austin, who converted for the away side.
Brisbane found the back of the net on two occasions after their equaliser, but both were ruled out for offside.
Brisbane struggling to create chances
Against the Wanderers, Brisbane Roar operated in a 3-2-5 while with the ball, which had mixed results over the course of the game.
The back three was supplemented by a midfield two of Jay O’Shea and Kai Trewin, who rotated to sometimes drop off the Wanderers’ pressing line to receive the ball.
The two wingbacks in Jordan Courtney-Perkins and Jack Hingert took up positions high and wide on the flanks, with a front three (from left to right) of Joe Knowles, Charlie Austin and Riku Danzaki rotating to show for the ball in pockets of space.
Brisbane did well in the first half to move the ball around the Wanderers’ mid-block to get into their attacking half, usually through a pass into central midfield, where one of the forwards or double pivot played a first time ball to find a wingback with space.
However, once the ball went wide, Brisbane struggled to create any real scoring opportunities through combinations to move the ball centrally.
Another issue with Brisbane in possession is they were too one-dimensional in their ways to move the ball forwards.
They weren’t able to utilise the space for the wingbacks directly with long balls, as none of their three central defenders had the passing range to find them on a consistent basis.
This, alongside their inability to penetrate the Wanderers’ defence and create chances, saw the away side struggle tonight, and they’ll likely continue to do so until a chance in system.
Their goal came from a piece of individual brilliance from Knowles and a clinical finish from Charlie Austin rather than as a product of good systematic play.
Yengi isolated on left flank
Kusini Yengi struggled to make his way into the match against Brisbane, and looked isolated on the left flank.
At Adelaide United, Yengi was an all action number nine, capable of holding up the ball, running in behind and giving defenders nightmares with his combination of clever movement, technical ability and athleticism.
He was lauded as a major signing for the Wanderers due to the way he lit up the league at Adelaide, but hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations in his first three matches in red and black.
On paper, Yengi as a left winger makes sense.
He’s got the aforementioned ability to run off the shoulder of defenders or hold up play, which makes him dangerous as an inside forward.
He’s also able to take on defenders and prevail in one on one situations, and cut inside and shoot from the flank.
However, it’s clear he looks uncomfortable in the role, particuarly as a wide winger when he’s isolated and unable to truly impose himself on the match in influential areas.
Yengi’s form has taken a hit as a result, and one wonders if there would be a different level of electricity to the side with the number nine up front for Western Sydney Wanderers.
Tactical battle even
There were multiple interesting tactical battles in the match this evening.
One was the position of the wingbacks in Brisbane’s back three/back five in correlation to the Wanderers’ back four.
The Wanderers moved well to move the ball up the field, with the midfield three rotating well.
They’d often form a 4-3-3, with Calem Nieuwenhof at the base, Milos Ninkovic on the left and Romain Amalfitano on the right, and on other occasions a double pivot with Ninkovic floating ahead.
They’d also rotate as individuals – sometimes Nieuwenhof would move forwards and Amalfitano would drop in, with other rotations involving the movement of Ninkovic also necessary.
Meanwhlie, Brisbane Roar’s press was interesting, with one of their wingbacks moving forwards to create a 4-2-3-1, with the wingback as part of the three.
They also switched towards the end of the match, pressing in a straight 3-4-3 with narrow wingbacks to compress the space for the Wanderers to play through the lines and force them to go long.
In defence, they operated with five at the back, with the front three and front two press alternating as Riku Danzaki took charge of remaining on Wanderers deep-lying playmaker Calem Nieuwenhof.
There were some interesting strategies from both coaches throughout the game, but it couldn’t give either side enough of an advantage necessary to find a winner.
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Sulejman Krpić 5′)
Brisbane Roar 1 (Charlie Austin 50′)
By Jack George (@JackGeorge0004)
Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images