A-League mid-season report card: Wellington Phoenix

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Having been the surprise packet in the back half of last season, Wellington Phoenix have struggled so far. Head coach Ufuk Talay will be hoping a win against Western United will finally kickstart their season.

Semester summary

The Phoenix have failed thus far to consistently replicate last season’s efforts. After setting the bar high with last season’s heroics, where they had their best ever finish, the Nix have struggled to live up to the expectations put upon them.

Talay’s side have shown glimpses of the football we grew accustomed to from them last season, but far too infrequently.

They have already lost almost as many games this season as they did in the entirety of last season, having played ten games fewer.

Injuries have not helped Talay, as both his defence and attack have been ravaged by injury.

Reno Piscopo missed the first few games through injury, before coming back and drastically helping to improve his side’s attack. He has since picked up another injury, leaving the majority of the creative work to skipper Ulises Davila.

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Area of excellence

Attack.

Twenty-six goals in 16 games is not a bad return for the Nix. Especially when you consider attacking weapons Piscopo, Tomer Hemed and Jaushua Sotirio have all spent spells on the sideline this season.

They have played some stunning football at times and scored the team goal of the season thus far.

At full-strength they look as dangerous as any attack in the league. However, the injuries have hampered their ability for their attackers to gel properly.

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Area in need of improvement

Defensively.

They have conceded the third most goals in the competition. Losing Steven Taylor for the start of the season to the Indian Super League, although he has returned, and Luke DeVere to long-term injury has not helped.

Tim Payne has been shifted to centre-back for the majority of the season. where he has excelled. However, Liam McGing, Joshua Laws and Te Atawahi Hudson-Wihongi have all had a crack at being his partner.

None of whom have made the position their own, leaving the position vacant for Taylor. Hopefully it means, for the Nix fans, their defence should sure up and provide Payne a regular centre-back partner.

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Top student

Davila.

Equal fourth in the league’s goalscoring charts with seven goals, the skipper has been doing all he can in order to help his side.

The Mexican has only three assists to his name, despite having created the second most chances (38) in the league, pointing to poor finishing from those in front.

He is more often than not the link man between the midfield and attack and has reaffirmed himself as one of the league’s key playmakers.

Without Piscopo alongside him in the attacking midfield area for a large portion of the season, Davila has more than carried his weight.

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Class clown

Stefan Marinovic.

Marinovic was one of the best goalkeepers in the league last season. A run of poor performances at the start of the season has seen the All-White lose his place to Oliver Sail.

He has not really been given the opportunity to get back into the side due to Sail’s performance.

Marinovic will be hoping he gets another chance to re-establish himself as the Nix’s first-choice keeper.

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Grade

D

Outlook

The top six has to be the goal for Talay’s side. Especially with Piscopo and Taylor making their way back into the side in the coming weeks.

If they can consistently put together the attacking performances that we have seen in glimpses this season, where they have played some mouth-watering football, they will not be far off.

Shoring up their defence, as well, will be key in pushing for finals football. They would become a side the majority of teams would not want to face, especially when they are at their best.

Feature image credit: Speed Media

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Chris Ball
Football fanatic, supporting some, at times, hard to follow sides.

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