Friday night sees high flying Pune City playing host to David James’ Kerala Blasters. The two sides will be looking to win this for separate reasons. Pune could go top of the table with a win, but Kerala could heat up the race for fourth with a win. Either way, I am sure this will be a thrilling match. Let’s get into the stats.
Pune go into the game sitting in 3rd, two points behind 1st placed Bengaluru. They will obviously want to win as they will go top with a win. They have an impressive goalscoring record this season, scoring twenty-three goals, and they have a good defensive record, only conceding twelve goals.
They enter the game in good form, winning three, losing one and drawing one of their previous five. Their last game was a 2-1 win over Jamshedpur and they fought well to win that game. One final stat that is quite surprising, Pune have scored first in six of the last eight, so I am sure they will be looking to keep this record up.
Kerala go into the game sitting in 7th place, however, they are only two points behind 4th place Goa, this was written before the Mumbai vs Jamshedpur game. They have an average goal scoring record this season, after scoring fifteen goals and their defensive record is also fairly average, conceding seventeen.
They enter the game on similar form to their hosts, winning three and losing two of their previous five. Their previous game was a well fought 2-1 win over Delhi, which would have pleased James, as they are the games you need to win to have a late playoff push. One negative for Kerala is that they have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last three games.
The last time these two met was back in early January. The game ended 1-1 and the game itself was fairly entertaining. Marcelinho gave Pune the lead on thirty-five minutes before Mark Sifneos equalised on seventy-three minutes, although, Pune won’t have to worry about him this time around. A draw was a fair result and it would have been cruel on either side if they ended up losing.
A couple of head to head stats for you to digest now. Pune haven’t kept a clean sheet against Kerala in the last seven meetings, that is astonishing. Kerala hasn’t lost to Pune in the previous four so they definitely enter the game with some added confidence. They have also been first to score against Pune in five of the last six meetings, another impressive stat.
The Game Itself...
The game will definitely be entertaining. Both teams seem to play fairly well against each other, especially Kerala, who have struggled this season, so it will be good to see them perform well. I don’t think either team will dominate possession and the game will be fairly open.
I am sure James will be looking at that no clean sheet streak and will really want to end that in this game. Pune will also be looking to record their first win in four against Kerala so both teams are playing for something.
You can also add in the fact that Kerala are making a late playoff push, and a win will help that massively, whilst Pune are looking to go top of the table after the game, so both teams will go out and try to win.
This is, once again, a very hard one to pick. One name that came up was Blasters new striker Baldvinsson. He impressed when coming off the bench last time out, but we haven’t seen enough of him to call him a key player in what might be his first start.
Another player to pop up was the ever reliant, Iain Hume. The bloke is just a threat to this league, to any team as well. He scored the winner in their previous game, and with Kerala’s record against Pune, I am sure he is looking at the game and thinking he can add a couple of goals to his season tally.
The player who I have picked, though, is Pune’s playmaker Marcelinho. He has had an incredible season so far, and without him, Pune wouldn’t be anywhere near the top right now. He has three assists to his name over the past two games and he isn’t afraid of scoring a goal or two either. If he manages to get into his regular routine, Kerala won’t stand a chance.
With all that being said, I will simply leave you with this. I am going with a draw, either 1-1 or 2-2, I expect Kerala to perform well as they have picked their form up recently and they have now made themselves dark horses for that fourth place. However, Pune won’t want to drop all three points as they can go top with a win, so I think both will cancel each other out and share the points.