Aloisi unfazed by the end of Western United’s unbeaten run

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With Western United still in a comfortable position to reclaim the A-League Men’s top spot, head coach John Aloisi has downplayed the significance of his side’s 3-0 loss to Sydney FC on Saturday night.

A re-energised Sydney FC outfit unexpectedly put Western United to the sword on Saturday – the 3-0 loss being only the fourth defeat of the season for the Victorian side.

John Aloisi’s men managed just six attempts on goal at Netsrata Jubilee Stadium compared to the 14 from their Sydney opposition. However, this was not the most notable statistic which arose from the end of their nine-match unbeaten run.

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Not since United’s 2-1 loss to Wellington Phoenix in mid-January have the Victorian side had more of the ball than their opponents. Aptly, this was also the last time that they had lost a league game before their defeat on Saturday night.

Western were marginally defeated in possession in Sydney as the Sky Blues kept the ball for 55 per cent of the match. In recent weeks, however, the side have lost out in possession by a lot more despite remaining undefeated.

The Victorians retained just 39 per cent of possession as they held off a late Melbourne City surge in last week’s 2-2 draw, as well as having just nine shots compared to City’s 23.

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Remarkably, throughout five of their nine unbeaten games, they held the ball less than 40 per cent of the time – a tactic of sitting back and letting their opponents have the ball ultimately proving effective up until Saturday night’s defeat.

After going a goal behind for the first time since their round 11 defeat to Wellington, Aloisi insisted that his side’s attempt to chase after an equaliser did not play a hand in either the result or the even distribution of possession between the two sides.

“I don’t think it’s that much of a challenge (chasing an equaliser), to be honest,” he said.

“At 1-0 we were still chasing and doing well and we thought that we had enough opportunities to make it 1-1, probably the clearer ones before their second goal.

“But I don’t think that it changes too much when we do go a goal behind. Because we have been in front a lot, it would look like we can’t come from behind.”

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Meanwhile, the unexpected win for Sydney brings them up to fifth position on the table, albeit, having played three more matches than Melbourne Victory and the Phoenix in sixth and seventh respectively.

However, with the mid-April start of the AFC Champions League fast approaching for the Sky Blues, head coach Steve Corica has warned that the match was little cause for celebration, and that his side cannot afford to slip up in the four ALM matches before the tournament commences.

“We’re quite a few points still behind the top two,” he said.

“So we need to pick up as many points as possible. If we can get three points every game, fantastic. We have the players that can do that.”

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Feature Image Credit: Brisbane Roar

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Jimmy Alexander
Covering Sydney FC for the 2021/22 A-League season. Studying a Bachelor of Sports Media (Journalism) at Charles Sturt University.

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