Round 4 of the ISL has now been and gone, so in what is now becoming traditional fashion we shall take a look back at some of the key talking points of the recent matches.
#1 Rotation makes sense in theory but not always in practice
John Gregory felt the need to shuffle his pack for Chennaiyin FC’s match with Mumbai City making several changes in the hope of sending out a fresh side capable of seeing off the Islanders. Gregory was probably right to observe that the game had been “one-sided” but his players did not take any of the chances they created, meaning that the sucker punch was always a danger. And indeed it arrived, courtesy of Achille Emana’s spot-kick giving Mumbai a 1-0 win. With Chennaiyin coming into the game in fine form, hindsight suggests going with the team that had got them into that position might have been the better move.
#2 Amrinder Singh can rightly lay claim to be India’s No.1
There was only one man standing between John Gregory patting himself on the back for rotating the squad and still winning and regretting making so many changes. Mumbai City shot-stopper Amrinder Singh was in fine form, making save after save to keep Chennaiyin at bay. Indian goalkeepers have been under the spotlight so far following many errors, but Mumbai boss Alexandre Guimares is sure he has the best in town, saying “Amrinder for me is the best goalkeeper in India. He showed that last season and now too. Amrinder knows he has to continue improving because there are other good goalkeepers too”.
#3 Jamshedpur turn on the style and lose
If you asked anyone who has watched Jamshedpur FC play this season to describe the team’s style they would have no doubt responded with words like “solid”, “defensively strong” and difficult to “break down” with the occasional “don’t create much” thrown in for good measure. Steve Coppell removed the shackles against FC Pune City and watched his side attack with class and create a seasonal record (for them) of four shots on target. The only issue was that they failed to take any and left the back door open, conceding their first goal of the ISL season – scored by Adil Khan. As quickly as Jamshedpur looked like they might be a dark horse for the title they have reemerged as being just like everyone else, capable of being beaten on any given day of the week.
#4 Getting out of the house wasn’t such a good thing for Kerala after all
The Blasters had started their ISL season with three consecutive home matches yielding a single goal and no victory. Playing in front of some of the ISL’s most passionate fans can sometimes hinder performances when confidence is low, so Rene Muelensteen’s men were probably looking forward to getting on the road and playing elsewhere. However, things are going from bad to worse very quickly for Kerala. Iain Hume was injured, Berbatov pulled his calf after five minutes (possibly sensing the carnage that was about to ensue) and Paul Rachubka undid all his good work so far this season with a poor performance. Sandesh Jhingan and Nemanja Lakic-Pesic looked like they had only just been introduced yet Wes Brown remained on the bench once again, raising the question of why he was even there. Muelensteen called on players who had last played a competitive match in the I-League 2 and it showed as FC Goa swept them aside 5-2.
#5 In Coro and Lanzarote Goa have the Spanish double act that could take them all the way
I know, I know it is still too difficult to say who might actually win the whole thing but with FC Goa’s Coro netting back-to-back hat-tricks, albeit courtesy of some very generous defending, and Manu Lanzarote playing the perfect supporting role FC Goa look very, very good going forward. They may have to keep working on the game plan of scoring two more than the opposition though as they are made of paper at the back!
#6 Bengaluru did what they needed to do – bounce back with a win
Bengaluru FC were the team quickest out of the blocks this season but took a little stumble last week. Would the ISL new boys now falter, or bounce back? Bounce back was the answer with Miku scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over NorthEast United, a win that sees the BengaBoys go back to the top of the table.