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Why dropping star could solve Socceroos conundrum


Questions have been asked of the Socceroos after their 2-1 defeat to Japan on Tuesday night in Saitama.

Coming into the game off the back of an 11-game winning streak, the Socceroos failed to gain any ascendency in the clash and looked a class below a Japan side that has struggled so far in World Cup qualifying.

As a result, Graham Arnold’s team selection has been criticised, particularly the omission of Awer Mabil and the deployment of both Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy in the midfield.

Why Rogic and Mooy are two of Australia’s best players, the question has been raised of whether they can coexist alongside each other due to their similar game styles.

Former Socceroo Mark Milligan believes there’s no “easy answer” for Arnold when it comes to his star midfield duo.

“That (potentially dropping one of Mooy or Rogic) is very difficult as you said,” Milligan said on 1170 SEN’s The Global Game.

“That’s been a headache for Ange (Postecoglou) as well and I don’t know if ‘Arnie’ (Graham Arnold) is sort of going to do like Ange did and go three number 10s (Mooy, Rogic and Massimo Luongo) just to fit them in. I don’t know if that’s the solution either.

“Maybe it’s not such a problem if you have Aaron Mooy who’s in season and playing regularly.

“I think if that’s happening he’d play a more traditional six or eight role, I think that was definitely a factor in ‘Arnie’s’ thought process.

“He hasn’t had match minutes which makes it difficult.”

While Milligan believes the midfield conundrum could be fixed with a formation change, he can’t see that happening under Arnold any time soon.

“I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that, yes you want your best players on the pitch,” Millgan said.

“But (a solution could be) tweaking your formation or sometimes these players having to sit out and wait their turn.

“It’s a difficult question, I’m not sure you can fit them all in even though you want to.

“I think the only real way for ‘Arnie’ to do that is to tweak the system, knowing him I don’t think that’ll be an option.”

All eyes will be on Arnold’s starting XI when the Socceroos face Saudi Arabia next month.

The side will be hoping to play that game in Sydney in front of a crowd having played their last 10 games overseas due to COVID regulations.

A win in that clash would see Australia return to the top of Asia’s Group B in World Cup qualifying.

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