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Adelaide searching for maiden win against resurgent Western United

Adelaide United

Winless after four Isuzu UTE A-League 2021/22 games, Adelaide United will hope to alter that trend against an in-form Western United side at AAMI Park on Friday night.

The Reds come into the clash following its first defeat of the season after succumbing to a 2-1 Original Rivalry defeat.

Carl Veart will be wanting to see his side capitalise on its periods of dominance and take advantage of key moments in the game to open their account.

Meanwhile, Western has quietly made an auspicious start under John Aloisi’s tutelage.

The Green and Blacks went down 1-0 to Melbourne Victory in the opening round, but have since recorded three consecutive 1-0 league wins against Perth Glory, Melbourne City and Brisbane Roar.

It is the first time they have won three matches in a row since the 2019/20 season, although they have yet to play a match outside of Victoria this campaign.

Team news

Nick Ansell has ruled out for the remainder of the season after rupturing his Achilles in training. George Blackwood is a chance to make his first league appearance for the campaign after another week on the track.

What the experts say

Rob Greenwood: Adelaide United has endured a frustrating start to the season. Some promising displays have gone unrewarded, mainly due to an inability to convert periods of dominance into goals and the Reds will be stinging after suffering their first defeat of the campaign at home to bitter rival Melbourne Victory last week. By contrast, Western United is flying high and confounding many pre-season predictions it might struggle this term. The Victorian side has quietly and impressively climbed to third on the table on the back of three straight wins, including a shock 1-0 success over reigning champion Melbourne City a fortnight ago.

Tom Smithies: Western United are the surprise packet so far – well organised, disciplined and with a mean defence. So far, they’ve only scored three in four, but only conceded one in those four games. Adelaide have impressed in patches, but consistency remains elusive. Their carelessness was punished by Melbourne Victory last weekend.

Michael Zappone: Western United have built some great cohesion over the past few weeks and will be full of confidence to extend their run of three wins on the trot. Adelaide showed great character again last week, mounting another comeback in the 2nd half but ultimately Melbourne Victory proved too strong in the end so it’s important the Reds pick up points on the road.

One to watch

Rob Greenwood: He was short of his brilliant best, as he made his first start of the campaign against Victory and continued his comeback from ankle surgery. But talisman Craig Goodwin remains the Reds’ most potent creative weapon and the player capable of conjuring a piece of magic out of nothing to unlock a tight contest.

Tom Smithies: Isaías… crucial for setting the team’s tempo and allowing the speedsters to flourish.

Michael Zappone: Mo Toure. You get the sense that the young striker is on the cusp of something special. Each time he enters the game, there is an air of anticipation. I’d love to see a little more composure from him in front of goal. Last week when the game was in the balance, he had a wonderful opportunity to give Adelaide the lead, only to hit his shot straight at Ivan Kellava in the Victory goal. These are the moments that will turn him from an exciting prospect to a big time player.

Isaias

Key battle

Rob Greenwood: In-form Adelaide winger Ben Halloran’s duel with former Reds left back Ben Garuccio looms as a fascinating match up. Six-cap Socceroo Halloran has been his team’s standout performer in the opening four rounds, with his stunning late equaliser against Melbourne City prompting calls for a national team recall. Garuccio meanwhile has started every game for Western following his off-season move from City, rekindling the form that earned him a move from Adelaide to Scottish top flight outfit Hearts in 2018.

Tom Smithies: Ben Halloran v Connor Pain. Battle of the wingers could be pivotal. Pain broke his scoring drought last week but his boundless energy complements the wizardry of Alessandro Diamanti. Halloran’s guile could help to cut open Western’s defence.

Michael Zappone: Alessandro Diamanti defies his age. The Western United captain is the creative architect in Western United’s midfield and continues to shine. Adelaide will be looking at strategies to placate his influence on the game.

Ben Halloran

One change you’d like to see

Rob Greenwood: Mohamed Toure injected pace and movement into the Reds’ attack during his 20-minute cameo against Victory and after four consecutive substitute appearances has earned a start. The teenage talent is a constant menace for opposing defenders and has already proven his natural goal scoring ability during his brief professional career.

Tom Smithies: Adelaide to keep the ball better. The A-League can be a bit transitional at the best of times, but United have the players to keep possession.

Michael Zappone: Bernardo, the 17-year-old, son of Adelaide legend Cassio, had a great impact off the bench last week. His ability to run at players with the ball at his feet caused some issues for Melbourne Victory. He looks the part and I’d like to see him get some more game time this weekend.

Bernardo

Head-to-head
Played: 4
Wins: 1
Draws: 2
Losses: 1

Last four meetings
0-0 draw (H)
0-0 draw (A)
1-5 loss (H)
3-4 win (A)

Predictions

Rob Greenwood: Western is the form side heading into the clash. It boasts the league’s joint measliest defence, following three straight clean sheets, as well as a range of attacking threats, led by the evergreen Italian maestro Alessandro Diamanti. But the winless Reds will hold no fear travelling to AAMI Park. Carl Veart’s charges will look to get on the front foot early and take the game to the hosts using their speed on the flanks. Expect a tight tussle. Prediction: 1-1.

Tom Smithies: 2-1 to Adelaide. If Craig Goodwin hits his stride, the miserly Western United defence could be breached.

Michael Zappone: Western United’s miserly defence will be hard to crack. I’m expecting another tight one. A 1-1 draw.

Match details:
Friday, 17 December vs Western United
Isuzu UTE A-League 2021/22 – Matchweek 05
Kick-off 7.15pm ACDT
Venue: Moreton Daily Stadium
Stream: Paramount+

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