Team of the Week, presented by Bunnings Warehouse – Matchweek 3

Matchweek 3 saw two hotly-contested A-League games create drama and entertainment aplenty, as Western Sydney Wanderers won in Newcastle and Wellington Phoenix shared the spoils with Macarthur FC.

There was heat in Wanderers boss Carl Robinson's return to face the Jets, but an array of solid performers in Red and Black helped the Wanderers to a hard-fought victory at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The drama then continued on Saturday afternoon, when Macarthur fought back to secure a 1-1 draw with the Phoenix after a contentious red card was handed to Alex Rufer in the second half.

11 players emerged as the strongest performers from the four teams who featured throughout the Matchweek, earning their place in the Team of the Week, presented by Bunnings Warehouse.

Read on to see which players made the team, in our 3-5-2 formation!

Goalkeeper

Stefan Marinovic - Wellington Phoenix 

Stefan Marinovic enhanced his reputation as one of the league's best shot-stoppers with a brilliant display against Macarthur FC on Saturday afternoon.

The New Zealand international made two more saves (five) than any other goalkeeper in Matchweek 3 at a save percentage of 83.3% - the best of any gloveman.

Stefan Marinovic
Marinovic saves from a James Meredith attempt against Macarthur

Defence

Ziggy Gordon - Western Sydney Wanderers

A maiden A-League goal ensured Ziggy Gordon announced himself as a Wanderers player in style against the Jets. 

Gordon's expertly-taken header in the first half put the Red and Black in the lead, after which the 27-year-old switched his focus to providing defensive assurance, winning 70% of his 10 duels contested, making five clearances and a joint-high five interceptions for the Matchweek.

GOAL: Gordon's first goal in Red and Black comes from Troisi corner

Aleksandar Susnjar - Macarthur FC

There wasn't much splitting Macarthur and Wellington on Saturday afternoon, and Aleksandar Susnjar's performance in defence for the Bulls went a long way to ensuring that was the case.

The Socceroos defender made a game-high six clearances and won the most tackles of any Bulls player to go with five out of seven successful duels. 

Nigel Boogaard - Newcastle Jets

Nigel Boogaard never stopped trying for Newcastle against the Wanderers, in a game enhanced by the drama produced by the combative moments in a tense battle Boogaard shared with Simon Cox.

The Jets defender said post-match he'd trade in his goal for three points, but you can't take the credit away from Boogaard who scored a brilliant header out of nowhere to make it 2-1.

Boogaard also won possession more times (10) than any other player in the Matchweek.

GOAL: Inch-perfect from Ramy Najjarine as Boogaard converts

Wing-back

Tate Russell - Western Sydney Wanderers

A specific category is necessary to promote the brilliant work of Robinson's two marauding wing-backs who excelled for the Wanderers against the Jets.

Tate Russell was the man of the moment in Newcastle after burying an expertly-hit strike past Jets 'keeper Jack Duncan in the second half, reaping the rewards of a lung-busting run into the box which was found by Simon Cox as the Red and Black finished off a brilliant team move to double their advantage.

Russell's tireless work up the right flank garnered five dribbles, more than any other player in the Matchweek, three interceptions and a clearance to go along with two created chances and shots of his own, including his all-important strike which proved the difference in the 2-1 win.

GOAL: Russell gets forward to blast Wanderers two goals ahead

Thomas Aquilina - Western Sydney Wanderers

In just his first start for the Wanderers, Thomas Aquilina proved he's more than ready for the challenge of performing at A-League level.

The 19-year-old won three of his four tackle attempts and 13 of a game-high 19 duels, and should have had a goal of his own if not for a fluffed attempt in the goal mouth which was a rare blemish on the young defender's overall stellar performance.

Aquilina's speed and neat dribbling were a highlight of his starting debut
Aquilina's speed and neat dribbling were highlights of his starting debut

Midfield

Nicolai Müller - Western Sydney Wanderers

Nicolai Müller pulled the strings for the Wanderers against the Jets, and if not for a marginal offside call would have emerged from the game with a truly memorable goal destined for the German's highlight reel.

Müller played a team-high seven passes into the box, created three scoring chances and attempted four dribbles - only one player in the Matchweek attempted more.

The 33-year-old's wonder-strike in the first half was rightly chalked offside but Müller persisted with his offensive threat, showcasing great determination to win the ball that led to Russell's match-winning goal in the second stanza.

Müller's joy was short-lived after his long-range rocket was ruled out for offside
Müller's joy was short-lived after his long-range rocket was ruled out for offside

Beñat Etxebarria - Macarthur FC

Beñat Etxebarria's showcased the best of his creativity and control in Macarthur's midfield on Saturday afternoon, providing great encouragement for what is yet to come in the Spaniard's first A-League campaign.

Beñat  created more scoring chances (seven) than any other player across the two games, including his assist for Markel Susaeta's equaliser; he also made a Matchweek-high 86 passes for an accuracy of 92%.

GOAL: Beñat releases Susaeta

Ramy Najjarine - Newcastle Jets

On loan from Melbourne City, Ramy Najjarine is beginning to reveal his true potential in Jets colours in the 2020/21 A-League campaign.

Najjarine's creative spark shone throughout his showing against the Wanderers as he created the second-most scoring chances (five) of any player in the Matchweek, including an assist for Boogaard which offered the Jets a pathway back into the contest.

Attack

David Ball - Wellington Phoenix

David Ball returned to action with the Phoenix this season showing encouraging signs he's set to build on his promising first A-League campaign in 2019/20, before scoring his first goal of the season against the Bulls on Saturday afternoon.

Ball took a league-high nine touches in Macarthur's box throughout the contest and scored one of his two shots on target, getting on the end of a sharp team move created by Ulises Dávila, developed by James McGarry and finished by Ball. 

GOAL: Ball gets off the mark in 2020/21

Simon Cox - Western Sydney Wanderers

An assist for Russell's winning goal was just reward for Simon Cox in a showing full of endeavour and team-oriented play designed to pull the players around him into the game and create chances to score.

With a full pre-season under his belt the 33-year-old looks in terrific condition to perform up top for Robinson's side, and a lung-busting run behind the Jets defence in the first half which led to Müller's disallowed goal paid testament to the improved fitness levels the striker has brought into the 2020/21 campaign.

After Cox and Müller were substituted the Jets began to wrestle the ascendancy in the contest, highlighting the important role Cox played in a hard-fought 70 minute shift.

Simon Cox battled hard against Nigel Boogaard in Newcastle
Simon Cox battled hard against Nigel Boogaard in Newcastle