Western Sydney Wanderers – Match Report vs. Perth Glory (07/01/2023)

Perth Glory was able to edge Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 in A-League action. Glory held the majority of possession in the game, though they did not necessarily create a huge amount of high-danger scoring chances. Perth played a 3-5-2 and the Wanderers played a 4-4-2. 

Ratings:

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Calem Nieuwenhof

  • Nationality: Australian 
  • Age: 21
  • Date of Birth: 17/02/2021
  • Current club: Western Sydney Wanderers
  • Career: Sydney FC
  • Position: Defensive midfielder
  • Preferred foot: Right

There is an argument to be made that Calem Nieuwenhof, who played as a centre-midfielder in this match, is the breakout star of the A-League this season. He has played more minutes than any other U-23 player this season. It was easy to see why this was the case against Perth. Nieuwenhof is a fantastic disrupter. He did a great job of stopping quick breaks by Perth in their tracks. Whether this was through winning the ball back, tactical fouls, or just pressuring an opponent, Nieuwenhof was a beast on defence in the middle of the park. He managed to make a lot of his defensive interventions by being well-positioned.

He is not really the sort of ball-winning midfielder that chases the ball wherever it goes. He mostly held his position within the formation and dealt with the ball as it came to him. He was not the focal point of the Wanderers’ build up but he did a good job of retaining the ball in possession. He was very comfortable carrying the ball into space and was good at holding opponents off. His passing was also very solid. He is not the most progressive passer but he was good at keeping hold of the ball when under pressure. If he could add more ball progression to his game then he would probably be good enough to go straight to a top-five league.

He also popped up at the edge of the box for a decent shot on one occasion. He has a goal and an assist so far in his young career. It’s possible that some offensive production could be added to his game as he develops more. He will always be primarily a defensive midfielder but I could see him being a guy who gets two or three goal contributions per year. 

Rating – A2

I was close to giving him an A1 but ultimately his lack of experience and mild limitations with the ball kept me at an A2. Still, though, Nieuwenhof has to be seen as one of the best, if not the best prospect in the A-League. He has Dutch citizenship which will make him very appealing to teams in the Netherlands or anyone else in the EU. 

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Ramy Najjarine 

  • Nationality: Australian 
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 23/04/2000
  • Current club: Western Sydney Wanderers
  • Career: Western Sydney (Y), Melbourne City, Newcastle Jets
  • Position: Striker
  • Secondary Position: Winger
  • Preferred foot: Left

Ramy Najjarine played as a striker in this match, though he has played significant minutes as a winger and as a #10 throughout his career. He showed some good dribbling and technique in this match but, in my view, did not have quite enough end product to justify recommending him to a higher level. Najjarine has quite a low centre of gravity and is able to change directions quickly. This allowed him to win several fouls in this game and to beat players with dribbling. But his final ball was not that great.

On several occasions, he cut inside and floated the ball over everyone’s head. I think he might be better served to hit some more driven balls or honestly just shoot more often. His shots per game across his A-League career are a little on the low side. But I would way rather a player attempt a low-percentage shot than put in a terrible cross. I think Najjarine’s effectiveness is a bit limited by playing a team that has such a defensive style of play. He is clearly a volume player with a very direct style. But it’s hard to maximise that kind of player when they only get to attack a few times a game. His defensive play and pressing were reasonable, though not outstanding. He did start one promising-looking move with a bit of counter-pressing but his pass wasn’t weighted correctly and the move died. He also tracked back quite a lot, probably more than I would want a striker too. This is perhaps a symptom of him being more comfortable in a wide role. 

Rating – B1

He’s fine. He would have to progress pretty significantly in the next year to make the jump to Europe (or even a bigger Asian League) but he’s a very solid A-League player.

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Kusini Yengi

  • Nationality: Australian 
  • Age: 23
  • Date of Birth: 15/01/1999
  • Current club: Western Sydney Wanderers
  • Career: Adelaide Comets, Adelaide United
  • Position: Winger
  • Secondary Position: Striker
  • Preferred foot: Right

Kusini Yengi played as a left winger in this match. He was subbed off late in the first half with an injury but I am confident I saw enough of him in this game, and other times I have seen him, to figure out what his deal is. Basically, Yengi is big, strong, and quick, but a bit lacking technically. Sometimes the chaos generated by his world-class athleticism leads to good things happening for him. Other times his poor ball control lets him down. He is not totally lacking in skill and actually has decent dribbling. But his overall lack of control makes it hard for him to consistently take advantage of that.

In his short time on the pitch in this match he did send a player completely the wrong way with some dribbling but the ball got away from him. Western Sydney looked to use Yengi as an outlet regularly. Because of his strength a long ball to him was a good way to beat the Perth press. The Wanderers particularly employed this strategy to get out of their own end when they had throw-ins deep in their half. Yengi did not necessarily have the close control to break away from the press cleanly but he would usually at least win another throw-in and move things up the field a bit more. He was also quite involved defensively. He made several headed clearances off of opposition set pieces. 

Rating – B1

Yengi has certain traits that will always make him a useful player but I think the A-League is his level. He does have UK citizenship which might make him attractive to some clubs in England or Scotland but I don’t think he has the ability to make anything other than a lateral move in terms of level. 

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