Yeni Ngbakoto opened the scoring in the 16th minute as the Wanderers went on to win 4-0 against Macarthur FC (Image; Western Sydney Wanderers - Twitter)

The Western Sydney Wanderers were firing on all cylinders to kick off 2023, dealing out a 4-0 thrashing to Macarthur as they return to second place on the table. It marks Western Sydney’s first win over inner-city rivals Macarthur across their six meetings.

Four individual goalscorers show the attacking prowess of the Wanderers that had been laying dormant, scoring only eight goals in their first nine matches. But it wasn’t just the finishing that impressed Coach Marko Rudan, not allowing the Bulls a single shot until the stoppage time of the first half.

There was a clear difference in the level of performance between the teams on Sunday evening, the visitors finding themselves two goals down in the 18th minute. It was the performance Rudan needed to be assured his side was ready to compete.

Having not played at home since November 5, it was the perfect homecoming for Wanderers fans to enjoy. However, Rudan doesn’t believe the location of the game should influence how his team plays the game.

“[The location of the game] shouldn’t have a huge effect,” Rudan told the media after the match.

“We love playing out here and amongst the fans, it’s always good to be back home.

“But we’ve put in good performances away from home as well, so it shouldn’t matter. Our mentality has to be one where we’re on all the time, no matter the ground.”

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Being winless in their last three games, there was a clear shift in the Wanderers’ playstyle. They were far more aggressive and direct, with a clear intent whenever they found themselves in the opposition’s half.

Rudan will be hoping his side can continue this level of performance through a struggling Perth outfit next Saturday and build a strong run of form into a tough month of scheduling. He refused to give away too much but confirmed there had been a change in training to help his team in the final third.

“There were quite a few [changes in tactics], it’s not for me to reveal,” Rudan said post-match.

“It’s for everyone to see it and then have to read into it to understand it. If you saw the starting team and the positions they were in to start with, you would’ve seen that it’s different to what we’ve done so far this season.

“It worked a treat as far as I’m concerned, so without going into too much detail, the focus was on designing ourselves a plan that can be executed, applied and understood by the players.”

With a number of injuries to his squad, Rudan teased the idea of a number of January signings after the match on Sunday. He says his team has had their eyes open for a while as they look to strengthen their side for the back half of the A-League season.

“We’re certainly on the lookout,” he said.

“We’ve been very proactive, but irrespective of what window it is, we’re always looking to improve our squad and we’ve been doing that over the last few months.

The Wanderers will travel across the Nullarbor on Friday to take on bottom-of-the-table Perth Glory. While Macarthur will enjoy a full seven-day break and return home to host the Jets who will be hungry for a result after a loss to Sydney FC.

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