Proof John Aloisi is right about his biggest Western United claim this season

Catch up with all the biggest talking points ahead of Round 6 in the Isuzu UTE A-League

Last weekend, John Aloisi watched on as his Western United created chance after chance against Adelaide – but was once again left scratching his head at the full-time result.

A 3-1 defeat at home to the Reds was defined by the visiting side’s determined defensive actions after carving out their two-goal lead; time and again Western banged at the door but to no avail as a combination of in-form keeper Joe Gauci and his steadfast defence scrapped to keep their two-goal lead intact.

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Western put 23 shots on the board and seven on target, but came away with nothing. It’s a trend Aloisi has seen repeatedly over the opening five rounds of the season – and post-game, he had this to say about his team, who have combined to score just three goals across one win and four defeats:

“The chances we’re creating, since I’ve been at the football club we’ve never created that many chances in a game.”

The statistics show the Western boss is onto something.

And as he prepares his troops for a Round 6 clash with Wellington Phoenix on Saturday afternoon, he’s of the firm belief that things are about to change.

Through five rounds, Western have made 185 entries into the penalty area, more than any other team in the league, helped by 59 turnovers high up the pitch, and the second-highest amount of shots from those turnovers (12).

As a result, Western’s expected goals (xG) for the season to date is 6.5 – but having scored just three for the season so far, the difference between their xG and actual goals is the worst in the league.

A deep dive into Western’s attacking statistics paints a picture of a team showing plenty in the final third, but producing little:

Western United – 2023-24 attacking figures

StatisticTotalRank in league
Expected Goals6.511
xG Diff-3.512
Total Shots738
Shooting Accuracy50%6
Shot Conversion Rate4%12
Penalty Area Entries1851
Big Chance Total109
Big Chance Scored312
Big Chance Conversion Rate30%10
Passes Into Final Third2944
Passes Ending In Final Third (Accuracy)71%7
Cross Accuracy21%9
High Turnovers592
Shot Ending High Turnovers122
Goal Ending High Turnovers  07
10+ Pass Sequences653
Possession Won (Final Third)343

“I still think we should have gotten more out of those games,” Aloisi said after defeat to the Reds. “Because we were the better side in the ones we lost – except the Wanderers game (a 5-0 defeat). 

“We’re getting punished at the moment for things we can do better.

“We believe we could have blocked the shot a little bit better for Halloran’s goal, for the first goal. A set piece, we knew we could’ve done better there. Then their third goal, even though it’s a brilliant goal… we can defend that better.

“It will change. We have to remember: Ramy Najjarine is virtually a new player for us, because he played 10 minutes last season, and didn’t train a lot last season. Riku Danzaki’s a new player. Daniel Penha’s a new player. Nikita Rukavystya is a new player. Angus Thurgate’s a new player. It takes time to gel.

“Those goals will come. When you’re creating chances like that. I think we had 20 shots from inside the 18-yard box. That’s a lot. Seven big chances… three or four one-on-ones. You create three or four normally in half a season, not in a game of football.

“There’s a lot of good things, a lot of positives and we just have to keep working, improving and we know we’ve got the side that can turn it around.”

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Daniel Penha.

Aloisi mentions Penha as one of his new signings still settling into life in Melbourne – and no other player represents the potential of what the 2022-23 Isuzu UTE A-League Champions could produce than the former Newcastle Jets star, who has had 20 attempts on goal without breaking his duck this season.

He sits second on the list of players league wide in total shots without a goal, with Western teammate Josh Risdon joining Penha in the top 10.

A-League Men 2023-24 – Most Shots Without a Goal
PlayerTeamGoalsxGTotal Shots
Marco TúlioCentral Coast Mariners01.6825
Daniel PenhaWestern United01.1420
Ángel TorresCentral Coast Mariners00.9815
Chris IkonomidisMelbourne Victory00.7812
Daniel ArzaniMelbourne Victory00.612
Hamza SakhiMelbourne City00.5412
Róbert MakSydney FC00.7611
Joshua RisdonWestern United00.6411
Marin JakolisMelbourne City00.5211
Jed DrewMacarthur00.8110

It’s a similar story in terms of chance creation. Western forward Lachie Wales has no assists to his name despite creating 16 chances – the biggest differential of any player in the league without an assist. Ben Garuccio is fourth with 10 chances created, and Rison sits 10th having created seven.

A-League Men 2023-24 – Most Chances Created Without an Assist
PlayerTeamAssistsxAChances Created
Lachlan WalesWestern United01.5516
Daniel ArzaniMelbourne Victory01.0512
Anthony CáceresSydney FC00.6411
Nicolas MilanovicWestern Sydney Wanderers00.8310
Ben GaruccioWestern United00.9710
Róbert MakSydney FC01.259
Ryan KittoAdelaide United00.458
Joshua NisbetCentral Coast Mariners00.328
Henry HoreBrisbane Roar00.327
Joshua RisdonWestern United00.637

Risdon admits it’s been frustrating to see the goals dry up through the first five rounds of the season.

“It’s hard to put a finger on exactly,” he told

“The (5-0 loss) against Wanderers, no idea what happened there. It just seems we’re getting punished for the little details we’re getting wrong at the moment. We work a lot on our defensive structure. When one thing is out of place or someone isn’t doing the right thing, it seems to be a domino effect.

“We’re getting punished and not taking our chances when we get them. The last two games have been very promising. It’s frustrating because we should’ve easily won both those games I feel. We’re getting punished for being a little bit off.

“It’s hard to be positive but that’s what we have to do at this time. It’s still pretty close at the moment.”

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“We’ve changed our squad a bit,” he added. “I do feel we have a team to play finals and do well. It’s just fixing a few things here and there. We have a much more dynamic squad going forward now and it shows in the chances we’re creating whereas in previous years it wasn’t as much. That’s exciting. Really it’s myself, Tomoki and Ben from the back four from the year we won it. Defensively we haven’t changed too much.

“That year our defensive structure was the main reason we did so well. If we can get back to being hard to beat and being stingy in conceding goals, shows we’re going to have chances to score goals.”

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