Melbourne City were rewarded for their faith in youth with a 2-0 win on Tuesday night, while Kenny Lowe treads on ever-thinner ice in Perth.
Warren Joyce’s side took the lead inside the opening 10 minutes, with Ross McCormack curling a superb free kick around the wall and past Liam Reddy at the near post after 19-year-old Daniel Arzani was cut down just outside the area.
Diego Castro’s sublime touch was on display at the other end though, as the Spaniard danced around Bart Schenkeveld before firing a missed shot and then found Andy Keogh from a dead ball – but Perth were not able to capitalise, while a more fluid City continued to trouble them.
In his first A-League start, Arzani would once again have a hand in a scoring opportunity for his side, gliding between Andreu and Jeremy Walker, drawing contact and earning a somewhat dubious penalty, which was duly converted by a rampant McCormack.
Arzani shines in starting debut
Joyce gave the young midfielder 37 minutes in which to impress against Wellington last Saturday and he did not squander the chance, providing the clinical McCormack with two assists after a dire first half saw City trailing to the A-League’s bottom-placed team.
In turn rewarded with his first start, Arzani was prolific through the midfield at nib Stadium. His chemistry with right-back Nathaniel Atkinson was evident from the beginning, while his pace and agility too much for a flat-footed Glory defence.
He was substituted to boos from the home fans on the hour as City take the field against against Central Coast in just four days, but after he brought such a spark, it is hard to picture Joyce taking him out of the first team.
Promising outing for a more adventurous City
In recent weeks Joyce has made a habit of selecting four centre-backs in his starting XI, with Michael Jakobsen and Osama Malik screening for Bart Schenkeveld and Iacopo La Rocca.
In theory this provides extra cover for the back four and allows his side to dictate the tempo of the match without the ball, but the lack of spark in midfield has hampered their capacity to score.
While the team that took the field against Perth appeared to be of a defensive mindset – with the four defenders named alongside deep-lying midfielder Luke Brattan – it looked as though a back three had been deployed in a wider, more attacking formation.
This allowed Atkinson and Scott Jamieson to overlap on the wings and link up with Arzani, while Perth lacked the width to exploit the space in behind.
This approach may come undone against a side with more pace and endeavour than the timid Glory side they confronted, but it is encouraging to see that City are prepared to take risks with the ball.
Kenny Lowe is in trouble
Internally, pressure must be mounting on Kenny Lowe, who has seen his team ship 11 goals in their last three outings while barely firing a shot in return.
The Glory currently sit outside the top six with a league-worst goal difference of -15 and no discernible brand of football to guide their way back.
While their hand was forced, Western Sydney Wanderers have accepted they may have to suffer to see the full benefit of Josep Gombau’s approach. Perth may do well to make a change and install a manager with more drive, and a more cohesive vision for his team.