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  • Writer's pictureThomas Pombart

A familiar story for Adelaide, blunt Bulls, and welcome Jack: The key takeaways from round one

The long and anxious wait experienced by Australian football fans across the country is over, as the A-League Men returned to our local stadiums and TV’s over the weekend.

So what were the key takeaways from round one?

City's midfield puts on a clinic

Goals from Curtis Good and Conor Metcalfe put City 2-0 up in the season opener. (ABC)

Patrick Kisnorbo's free-flowing, possession-based City side returned to retain their title with a bang in the season opener against Brisbane.

City garnered 58% of the ball and completed 589 passes, with 87% accuracy.

Kisnorbo's midfield trio of Florin Berenguer, Aiden O'Neil and Conor Metcalfe was able to find space between the lines and ultimately control the match's tempo.

Metcalfe, in particular, put in an inspired performance, with all 15 of his passes made in the opposition half finding a teammate.

He also put in an excellent defensive shift, intercepting the ball once and completing one clearance during the game.

Metcalfe - and the City midfield as a whole - put in a complete performance.

It is one of many reasons they will be in contention again this season.

Rodwell provides an instant spark

Thomas Aquilina challenges Milos Ninkovic in the Sydney Derby on Saturday night. (Getty Images)

Western Sydney edged possession in the Sydney derby but, similarly to last season, failed to convert their chances.

The Red and Black possessed the ball for 53% of the match and completed 544 passes, with 85% accuracy.

Jack Rodwell and Steven Ugarkovic were particularly impressive for Carl Robinson's side.

Ugarkovic bossed the midfield, winning four duels across the ninety minutes and getting 95 touches on the ball during the game.

Rodwell came closest to scoring late on, immediately after his introduction to the A-League Men competition.

His long-range strike forced a great save from Andrew Redmayne.

He also fluffed a much easier chance not long after that from close range.

Nonetheless, Rodwell's desire to shoot or get into goalscoring positions should excite Wanderers fans.

He impressed throughout his 13-minute cameo, with a 100% pass completion rate, whilst he was only dispossessed once.

Does this brief appearance from the Englishman warrant his inclusion in the starting lineup for the Jets this weekend?

Lacroix dominates on debut

Melbourne Victory's Roderick Miranda celebrates the winner at GMHBA Stadium. (ESPN)

This off-season, Western United signed Leo Lacroix from Swiss side Sion, and he dominated against the Victory on Saturday.

Lacroix notched up three tackles, made three clearances, won 55% of his duels, and he completed the majority of the passes he made to a teammate inside his half.

The 29-year-old was also influential in keeping possession, only giving the ball away to Victory a handful of times.

The Swiss centre-back did not put a foot wrong the whole evening, and perhaps he is John Aloisi's most crucial defender already.

Aloisi can only hope that Lacroix continues his impressive form across the entire 2021/22 campaign.

Same old story for Adelaide

Daniel Sturridge was an 85th minute substitute for Perth on Saturday. (The Age)

Carl Veart watched as his side missed four key chances on Saturday evening against Perth in a clash overshadowed by Daniel Sturridge fever.

Kusini Yengi, Ryan Kitto, and Craig Goodwin all missed golden opportunities throughout the game.

Kitto was the main culprit for Adelaide, though, squandering a handful of inviting openings.

Both Glory and United had a combined 25 shots on goal, with only 7 of those on target.

Both Richard Garcia and Veart would be highly disappointed with their side's attacking output.

Once fit, it looks like they will need their respective talisman, Sturridge and Goodwin, to provide the goals both sides desperately need.

Papas' reign starts with abysmal defending

Another manager, more of the same so far for the Newcastle Jets.

They made two more monumental defensive errors leading to goals in Sunday's F3 Derby.

First midfielder Kosta Grozos gave the ball away cheaply, allowing Josh Nisbet to score.

Just moments later, Newcastle was punished for failing to man-mark debutant Jacob Farrell on a 57th-minute corner.

As well as creating several chances, Newcastle dominated possession, with over 68% of the ball and over 400 more passes completed than the Mariners.

Georgian striker Beka Mikeltadze was guilty of missing two huge chances in the F3 Derby. (SMH)

The style of play that Arthur Papas is implementing is a positive change, illustrated by the late flurry of chances and pressure in the final fifteen minutes.

After a passive first half, it was pleasing to see Daniel Penha and Angus Thurgate develop an understanding through quick and clever combinations in the second half.

This duo ultimately combined to set up the Jets' only goal of the game; a Valentino Yuel header.

But Papas needs to tighten up the Newcastle defence if the Jets want to have a successful season.

Jordan Elsey was particularly lacklustre on debut, twice being beaten by Nisbet, who played in an unfamiliar second striker role.

It will take time, but if Newcastle can cut out the stupid errors and release the shackles in attack, Papas will build something special.

Blunt Bulls struggling to convert chances

Macarthur struggled against Newcastle Olympic in the final third in the FFA Cup, amassing large amounts of the ball and plenty of shots on target, but only scoring three times.

Ante Milicic continues to have issues integrating and developing relationships between his attacking players, which looked non-existent in Sunday's 1-1 draw against Wellington.

Meanwhile, there still is no sign of Tomi Juric, who is reportedly out due to a developing situation regarding his vaccination status.

Alex Rufer (left) and Lachlan Rose (right) in action at McDonald Jones stadium. (Cameron Spencer)

Once again, for Macarthur fans, it was another case of 'what if', with plenty of dangerous crosses into threatening attacking areas not met with a final product.

The Bulls racked up 18 shots on goal and three on target, but only an unlikely Lachlan Rose volley could break the deadlock.

Milicic will hope that Juric can return and fix the chance conversion issues that he faces right now.

If Juric isn't the answer, the Bulls' faithful could be in for a long season.


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