Welcome to “Phoenix Prognosis”, which is a planned Monday column which shall appear after every Phoenix game this season. (Except the two Monday games, booo!)
Within, you won’t find any quotes from the coach, or play-by-play of the game, because we do it differently around here. Analysis, stats and opinions will form the crux of the “Phoenix Prognosis” column, as each week I look at some of what I deem to be the significant talking points of the encounter and season as a whole.
Enjoy the first edition!
Shots Shots, Shots Shots Shots Shots!
After having the third worst shots-per-game ratio in the league last season, the Phoenix have come out firing at goal to start the 2014-2015 campaign.
After 16 shots against Perth, the Phoenix reached double digits again this weekend with 10 attempts. However, it’s not the overall tally which is impressive, it is where the shots are coming from which would be of note for Ernie Merrick.
So far this season, 21 of the 26 shots attempted by the Phoenix have been from within the box, while they rank last in the league in shots from outside the penalty area.
It doesn’t take a football expert to ascertain that the Phoenix are therefore taking more efficient looks at goal, and that bodes well for the upcoming games.
An Improved Defensive Effort
Despite the hilarious own goal from the otherwise solid Tom Doyle, the Phoenix looked in much better shape at the back against the Mariners.
Against Perth, the Phoenix only won 51.1% of overall duels (40.6% in the air), had 15 interceptions, 16 tackles and 31 clearances.
Against the Mariners? An uptick across the board, winning 52.4% of duels (including a whopping 66.7% of aerial duels), while making 24 interceptions, 22 tackles and 35 clearances.
The Importance Of Nathan Burns
Before the season, I wrote that Burns was the most interesting case of the new recruits – with the potential to be a brilliant signing, or to be benched.
From the first two games, it looks like the former, with the Australian being the most threatening attacking player on the park on Saturday, creating havoc with his pace, movement and touch. At this rate, there might be a recall to the Socceroos on the cards.
Michael McGlinchey – Goal Scorer?
Michael McGlinchey scored 11 goals in 120 games for the Central Coast Mariners.
Michael McGlinchey has scored 2 goals in 2 games for the Wellington Phoenix.
Vince Lia has scored 2 goals in 138 games.
Manny Muscat has scored 2 goals in 147 games.
Right Back Debate
Manny Muscat had a bit of a torrid time on the right against the Mariners, furthering my beliefs that he is a better central midfielder than he is a right back. Constantly finding himself out of position, often struggling to track attackers, Muscat’s overall aggressiveness can often be a hindrance.
Which raises the question – should Louis Fenton start at right back? Although he is still somewhat untested at the position, he offers almost exactly the opposite skillset to Muscat – with his speed being a key element in his positioning, while he takes fewer risks than Muscat. Additionally, Fenton offers more going forward to support the attack.
When one of the midfield trio of Albert Riera, Roly Bonevacia and Alejandro Gorrin get suspended or injured, I’d like to see Muscat move into central midfield and for Fenton to be given a chance at the right back duties.
Hamilton raised, Niall Anderson now halves his time between university studies in Auckland and catching up on all things Waikato football in the Tron. Having covered Waikato FC and WaiBOP United in the ASB Premiership, Niall is also the lead writer at nzhoops.co.nz. Find him on Twitter @NiallGunner.