Talking Points From Week 6 Of ISL 5

FC Pune City 1 – Kerala Blasters 1

     1) Pune Lucky To Escape With Draw

The Stallions were very lucky to take something out of this game, even with refereeing decisions going their way. They were awarded a very soft penalty and Emiliano Alfaro should really have been penalized for stopping a ball from going in with his hands at the other end. Except for brief spells, Pune were pegged back in their own half and the duo of Adil Khan and Jonathan Vila had a busy night breaking up opposition play. Marko Stankovic was missed at the beginning of the season and the Austrian had to hobble off again after securing the lead for his side. Pune will hope that his calf injury is not serious and that he will be available for a crunch bottom-of-the-table clash against Chennaiyin.

     2) Kerala Make Pressure From Corners Tell For Once

The Blasters won an astounding fourteen corners in this match. Until the 61stminute, however, they could not make any of them count. A few minutes earlier, Nikola Krcmarevic was deemed to have shoved Alfaro in the back and conceded a penalty. No one was more pumped than the Serbian when the Pune striker made a hash of his effort and he made some of that adrenaline count when he thumped in the equalizer from a poorly cleared corner. It is not the defensive midfielder’s job to score goals. However, on a night when the attacking players forgot their shooting boots at home, Krcmarevic was on hand to make a difference.

Chennaiyin FC 0 – Mumbai City FC 1

     3) Same Old Story For The Machans

Chennaiyin FC must be hoping for a quick upturn in their fortunes because one point in six games does not reflect how they have performed on the pitch. Another game passes by from which they should have picked something up. Inigo Calderon and Eli Sabia have papered over the cracks that appeared in defence at the start of the season and Chennaiyin look more solid in that department. Their problems are elsewhere, and a worrying pattern is emerging. They completed their 50thattempt on goal in three matches towards the end of this game and have one goal to show for their efforts. Jeje Lalpekhlua did not cut it at the start of the season and his replacement, Carlos Salom is not delivering either. Chennaiyin needs goals and they need them fast.

     4) The Accelerator Has Kicked Into Gear

When Modou Sougou moved to Marseille in 2013, his new manager referenced the previous game the French side had played and highlighted how the team had missed an accelerator. Sougou was bought for 4.5 million euros to fulfil that role and he displayed that quality while taking his goal against Chennaiyin. He reacted quickest to a ball played beyond a high line, racing through on goal and while his first effort was saved, the ball fell kindly for him and he made no mistake with his second effort. After a slow start to the season, he has three goals in four games. More importantly, his goals have proved to be the winner in every Mumbai victory to date and delivered nine points.

Delhi Dynamos 2 – Jamshedpur FC 2

     5) Chhangte Makes An Impact At Last

Lallianzuala Chhangte has long been earmarked to be a star. Impressive on his national team debut in 2015 and during a stint with Liverpool’s youth academy at Kirkby in 2016, he has been closely watched in the ISL. He had his moments last year, but consistency eluded him and the story has repeated this season. He finally kicked into gear against Jamshedpur, showing good pace and composure in anticipating a back pass to the keeper before slotting home. It was also his ball that deflected onto the path of Adria Carmona, who headed home to briefly give Delhi the lead. The Lions could not make his performances count in the end, but if Chhangte can take some confidence from this game, it will do them a world of good.

     6) Jamshedpur Are Draw Specialists

The Red Miners have taken the league by storm this season with a distinctive attacking flair to their displays. A lot of that is down to the influence of the manager, Cesar Ferrando, who demands that his team play their football on the front foot. This has translated to an unbeaten start to their campaign, but there have only been two wins in their seven games. After a 2-0 win their first game against Mumbai, Jamshedpur have not managed to keep a clean sheet. While they are capable of scoring goals, they can also be porous at the back. If they can tighten a bit more at the back, more of those D’s will turn into W’s.

Kerala Blasters 1 – Bengaluru FC 2

     7) Poor Officiating Costs Kerala Again

The Blasters were at the wrong end of two poor refereeing decisions in their previous game against Jamshedpur and they suffered once again against Bengaluru. Sunil Chhetri was at least a yard offside when he received the ball from which he scored, and Sandesh Jhingan was right in pointing out that the standard of officiating needs to improve in the ISL. Kerala were desperately unlucky not to take at least a point from this game, with BFC’s winner coming from a rebound off Nikola Krcmarevic. While David James’ side lost their unbeaten start to the game, there were performances to take heart from, especially from Prasanth Karuthadathkuni, making an impressive first start to the season.

     8) Bengaluru Show That They Can Grind Wins Out

Last year’s beaten finalists shot to the top of the standings with a gritty away performance. After dominating proceedings during the group stage last season, the failure to win the title hurt the side a lot, and they seem determined to go all the way this time around. They were lucky with both their goals and the Blasters were more of a threat for large portions of the match, but they managed the game well. They were fluid with changes in their personnel and the fact that they had played three different players at right back by the end suggests that they can cope when a spanner is thrown into the works. They maintained their all win record in the ISL against their southern neighbours and left Kochi with a slight mental edge before the reverse fixture plays out later this season.

FC Pune City 2 – Chennaiyin FC 4

     9) The Stallions In Free Fall

Something is seriously wrong at Pune. Before the season started, they were widely being tipped for the title, having strengthened a side that already had most bases covered last season. Six games into the season, their manager has already been fired with the interim boss holding on by the skin of his teeth. It has not helped that many of the stalwarts from the previous season have not turned up. Emiliano Alfaro has already missed two penalties this season and has looked a distracted figure of late. He started this game on the bench, an unthinkable proposition not too long ago. Diego Carlos got himself sent off against Goa for a horrendous challenge and playmaker Marcelinho continued on that insolent path against Chennaiyin getting himself banned with the match already lost. While Marko Stankovic and Iain Hume cannot be blamed for being injured, Pune’s foreign contingent have just not stood up to be counted this season.

     10) Chennaiyin Turn Their Fortunes Around

The team from Chennai have been the unluckiest team in the league and they were due some good fortune going into this game. They showed good character getting back into the match after going a goal down, and captain Mailson Alves celebrated his return to the lineup after being dropped for three games with a goal and an assist. Jeje Lalpekhlua was restored to the lineup as well and while his barren run in front of goal continues, Chennaiyin found the net from other quarters. There has been an over-reliance on him and Carlos Salom for goals and it bodes well that Inigo Calderon and Mailson both contributed on set-pieces. Their contribution in that department was a vital cog in the machine last season.

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