Western Sydney Wanderers 2021/22 Season Preview

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After a disappointing first season under Carl Robinson, an array of fresh faces have arrived at Commbank Stadium as the Western Sydney Wanderers look prepped to break their five year finals drought.

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Last season…

A-League: 8th
Finals: n/a

They’ll win the league because…

The time is nigh for Robinson and his men. Many a loyal fan will tell you it’s been a rather disastrous few years for their side and quite frankly, for a club the size of theirs, they need to be doing better. Robinson has received adequate time to settle in and the opportunity to have a full off-season with his boys as well as bringing in ten fresh faces. For their fans this is reason enough to be optimistic.

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With a side now possessing an average age of 25.5, there is an even balance of youth and experience. If the club is going to go all the way this year, this has to be seen as a key factor. From the young exciting talents of Ramy Najjarine, Keanu Baccus, and Jordan Swibel to the experience of Steven Ugarkovic, Dimi Petratos, and Rhys Williams there is true belief that the side can be a force this season. If Robinson is able to find the right concoction, it could very fruitful year ahead.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because..

For all the new additions, if Robinson isn’t able to get it right early and string a run of strong performances, it could be hard to get the fans and media off his already bowed back. Although this isn’t entirely a rebuild with a brand new squad, there will be close eyes on the first starting XI of the new season.

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Will Robinson blood the new signings from the get go? Or will he play who we knows well and ease his way into the season? Either way, if he doesn’t get points on the board early, it could lead to a very grim season of football for his Wanderers.

The off-season brought

A plethora of new talent to the club. Many will be expecting the majority of new signings to feature regularly. After notably losing Mitchell Duke and explosive winger Bruce Kamau, it was clear that a new pool of attacking options was needed for the red and black. This has certainly been filled with five of the new signatures being known for plying their trade in the final third.

Key player

Steven Ugarkovic. This might not have been your first cab off the rank but after a mid-season move to the club last season, Ugarkovic quickly became a viable option for Robinson in the middle of the park. With 139 A-League Mens appearances under his belt, it’s likely that the 27-year-old will feature heavily in the middle of the park this season. 

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In a side that has struggled in previous seasons, a likely midfield trio of Baccus, Antonis & Ugarkovic will certainly cause issues for opposing sides. With Baccus holding down a defensive role we can expect that Ugarkovic will play a pivotal role as it’s expected that Antonis will look to be the most creative of the three. With Ugarkovic’s simple, yet effective passing game and an ability to clock up box to box kilometres you can rest assured that if the wanderers fire this season, he’ll be the distributor that plays a crucial role.

One to watch…

Keijiro Ogawa, on loan from Yokohama FC for the season.

Keijiro’s signature was certainly a head turner. The 29-year-old who has amassed 324 appearances in the Japanese top flight is sure to arrive in our league with a mountain of experience along with an ability to find his teammates in goal scoring positions. With attacking options needed desperately, we can expect Keijiro will play a large role on the right-wing for Robinson as he will definitely be one that opposing managers will look to shutdown from the get go.

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INS: John Koutroumbis (Newcastle Jets), Tomer Hemed (Wellington Phoenix), Adama Troare (Melbourne Victory), Ramy Najjarine (Melbourne City), Jordi Swibel (Sydney FC), Terry Antonis (Suwon Bluewings), Keijiro Ogawa (Yokohama FC), Rhys Williams (Al Qadisiyah), Dimitri Petratos (Al Wahda), Tomas Mejias (Without Club)

OUTS: Nicolai Muller, Jordan Mutch, Bruce Kamau, Dylan McGowan, Graham Dorrans, Kosta Grozos, Mohamed Al-Taay, Scott McDonald, Kwame Yeboah, Patrick Ziegler

Full Squad List

Goalkeepers: Vedran Janjetovic, Daniel Margush, Tomas Mejias, Jack Warshawsky

Defenders: Thomas Aquilina, Phillip Cancar, Ziggy Gordon, John Koutroumbis, Tass Mourdoukoutas, Mark Natta, Tate Russell, Adama Traore, Nectarios Triantis, Rhys Williams, Daniel Wilmering

Midfielders: Terry Antonis, Keanu Baccus, Keijiro Ogawa, Dimitri Petratos, James Troisi, Steven Ugarkovic

Forwards: Alexander Bodalato, Tomer Hemed, Berni Ibini, Alessandro Lopane, Ramy Najjarine

Feature image credit: Steve Christo

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Joseph Esposito
A diploma graduated Sports Media student, currently studying Law. Football obsessed, covering the Western Sydney Wanderers for the upcoming 2021/22 A-League season.

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