The Western Bulldogs finished seventh in the 2020 season but after an eventful trade period, they may be looking to achieve a lot more.
The Bulldogs were able to become the beneficiaries of drama in Collingwood acquiring their most notable player in Adam Treloar.
Adam Treloar right now is in his prime years and has been one of the higher quality midfielders in our game currently.
The amazing aspect of his arrival is that he is joining an elite midfield pack already.
Western Bulldogs currently have Marcus Bontempelli, Jack MacRae, Josh Dunkley, Bailey Smith, Lachie Hunter and Tom Liberatore in an absolutely stacked midfield.
There are just so many skillsets that complement each other with those group of players. The Bulldogs have always implemented chaos around the ball applying pressure with their tackling.
Adding Treloar into the squad gives the Bulldogs another player who is able to capitalise on the pressure and provide the Bulldogs with five clearances a game.
Inconsistency plagued the Bulldogs in 2020. One of their downfalls were their ruck and players in key positions underperforming.
Tim English was holding down the fort in the ruck with Dunkley at times playing part time ruck. The Bulldogs ranked dead last in hitouts which disadvantages their midfield and their struggles impacted them defensively.
While the Bulldogs look to strengthen that area with Stefan Martin, who was a prolific ruckman with Brisbane, he joins the team at age 34.
Additionally, Alex Keath and Josh Bruce in defence and up forward had down years.
Keath’s numbers and impact were down across the board having a below average season in disposals, spoils, tackles and intercept marks. Meanwhile, Bruce had troubles with his goal accuracy of only 45 per cent and his marks and goal scoring overall was down.
Bulldogs fans will be hoping those two can bounce back in 2021.
Can the Western Bulldogs replicate the form they had back in 2016? In their championship year, they were a team that would pressure the ball while their midfielders also made plenty of breaks and clearances.
There is so much potential for the Western Bulldogs in 2021 as there is a lot of upside with wildcards in the team.
Firstly, if they can find their ideal midfield line-up, they will definitely have one of the best midfields in the competition.
Now there’s certainly a debate that having too many midfielders could actually be detrimental. They don’t necessarily have midfielders who can play towards the front similar to Dustin Martin or Patrick Dangerfield.
Coach Luke Beveridge is going to have some headaches sorting out his line-up. Nonetheless, with the depth of their squad, it will be a good problem to have ultimately.
Secondly, can Josh Bruce regain his goal scoring form his St Kilda days? Mitch Wallis stepped up huge in 2020 with Aaron Naughton also playing up front helping to fill the void of Bruce’s poor season.
The Bulldogs were weak defensively out of all finals’ teams. One of the wildcards is Naughton whose versatility could help strengthen the team at the back. He’s had two strong seasons in the forwards and has had a strong goal accuracy of 68 per cent.
However, he started his career as a defender and with his ability to read the ball well, he could play as an intercepting defender. The Bulldogs averaged the lowest amount of intercept marks on average and he could help solidify that department.
Finally, if the Bulldogs secure Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, he is only going to be another asset in the forwards which will give Beveridge plenty of options to move around with.
Overall, Western Bulldogs should be excited about the prospect of what they could achieve in 2021. Their stacked midfield to go with versatility across the park should make them a dangerous team.
If they can work things out early, there’s no reason why this team can’t be in the top four and prove that they are a contender to look out for.