Wanderers v City: 4 key questions

Round 7 of the Hyundai A-League kicks off with a Harvey Norman Friday night clash between the Wanderers and Melbourne City. We look at four key questions which could decide the result at Spotless.

Question 1: Is this Kerem Bulut’s time to shine?

It hasn’t been a happy second coming for Bulut but if ever there was a time to rediscover his best form and deliver for the Wanderers, it’s now. 

Hyundai A-League Team of the Week: RD 6

The Red and Black are winless in four games, sitting outside the top six and struggling to find the consistency usually associated with Tony Popovic’s troops.

They’ve only managed seven goals from the opening six matches and making matters worse, leading scorer Brendon Santalab (4 goals) looks like spending some time out with a calf injury.

Western Sydney Wanderers: IN – Robbie Cornthwaite, Jumpei Kusukami, Steven Lustica, Bruno Pinatares, Aritz Borda, Jack Clisby, Jacob Melling, Nicolas Martinez, Kerem Bulut

So if ever the 24-year-old wanted to show his talent – and silence a few critics – then this is the perfect occasion.

When Bulut is focused on his game he has shown he can be an excellent finisher, scoring five in just nine appearances in his first stint at the club.

But he’s misfired in his four appearances in the 2016/17 Season. Can he turn it around against City?

Question 2: who will win the battle of the wide areas?

There are so many intriguing match-ups to look forward to but that battle of the wide men is likely to light up Spotless Stadium.

Both sides are so strong in this area. 

The Wanderers have trickery and creative flair of Nico Martinez and Jumpei Kusukami, while there’s the speed and tenacious quality of Bruce Kamau and Fernando Brandan.

Jumpei Kusukami - Western Sydney Wanderers

While the quartet is crucial to their side’s hopes, they also possess very different qualities.

Martinez and Jumpei like to drift inside and link up with playmaker Mitch Nichols. They are excellent at finding pockets of space just outside the box and either turning and dribbling at defenders or playing an incisive pass.

In contrast, City’s duo hugs the touchline to try and stretch the back four, allowing space for the likes of Fornaroli, Cahill and Brattan (who could be ready to play after the Socceroos’ Tuesday night clash in Bangkok) in the middle.

Melbourne City's Fernando Brandan celebrates scoring in the Westfield FFA Cup.

But once they receive it they are straight into taking on their defender and getting crosses in, with both grabbing assists for Fornaroli in the win over the Jets last weekend.

It’s going to be a fascinating battle and one which could determine which side comes out on to.

Question 3: How do you shackle Bruno?

It’s a question most Hyundai A-League sides are asking and one the Wanderers will need to find an answer to quickly if they are to get their first home win of the season.

The Uruguayan has begun the season in devastating fashion, with six goals from as many games. He also has a decent record against the Wanderers, scoring in two of three clashes between the sides last season.

The trouble for the Wanderers back four is that there’s just so many strings to Fornaroli’s bow. You get too close and he’ll use his body to roll around you, give him too much space and he’ll turn and shoot.

Bruno Fornaroli (City) - Two class finishes, his second in particular, further proof – if we needed – that

It’s a huge concern for the home side, especially with their uncharacteristic troubles at the back in 2016/17.

The Wanderers have conceded 13 goals – the equal worst in the league with Perth Glory – with five of those coming in the last 10 minutes of matches.

Question 4: how will Timmy go on his return to Sydney?

He was born and raised in Sydney – before embarking on a hugely successful career abroad – but Tim Cahill returns to his home town for the first time with City.

No doubt it’ll fire the fans up and who doesn’t want to see Timmy play?

After his incredible start – and that memorable goal – in the derby against Victory in Round 2,  since then it’s been more solid than spectacular from Australia’s greatest-ever scorer.

Tim Cahill celebrates his wonder strike with Bruno Fornaroli.

But Timmy loves the big occasion and a wounded Wanderers against City is just that.

While he has played more of a deeper role so far under JVS, there were signs last week he is getting into the box a lot more. Which is only going to spell trouble for the home side.

Either one of the centre-backs will need to make sure they track Cahill as he arrives in the box late or it will be up to either Dimas or Pinatares to run with him from midfield to help out.