Hero ISL 2022-23: Pulasta Dhar picks team of Matchweek 8

Pulasta Dhar picks his team for the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 Matchweek 8 with picked Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in goal, with a mixture of foreign and Indian players in the eleven.

Dhar chose Stephen Constantine as the head coach over Simon Grayson as he seemed to allow East Bengal FC to express themselves, as they played with a clear identity.

Here goes Pulasta Dhar's Team of the Week.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper:

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Bengaluru FC)

Gurpreet was clearly the best this weekend. That save from Anwar Ali’s shot, the timing of that save, and also the save at the start from Noah Sadaoui and the save at the end from Anwar, even though the first one was easier, kept Bengaluru FC in the game.

Six saves and 11 shots faced, most of them were on target, and he kept them out. Six punches as well, and in general, he was a massive presence at the back. That is Gurpreet Singh Sandhu for you.

Defenders:

Sarthak Golui (East Bengal FC)

Fitting in at right back gave Stephen Constantine another presence. Sarthak made two tackles on Boris Singh Thangjam that were perfectly timed and executed inside the box; he won the individual battle against Boris many times despite Boris being such a live wire down the right channel.

It was a plan from Aidy Boothroyd to exploit the lack of pace that we think Sarthak has, but he made up for it with his reach. He made seven tackles, three clearances, five successful interceptions, and three crosses as well, but I think the combination between Sarthak, VP Suhair, and whenever Cleiton Silva was dropping in was fantastic. We saw a different side to Sarthak’s game.

Narender Gahlot (Odisha FC)

He played at right back, but I have him at centre back, where he was quite fantastic. He had five successful interceptions, was adding to the attack, and won three free kicks. In general, Narender’s game has gone up, despite the shift in position, and he was very impressive in adjusting to it.

Aleksandar Jovanovic (Bengaluru FC)

It was a tough call to pick between him and Sandesh Jhingan, but Jovanovic just because of his presence allowed Jhingan a bit more freedom in terms of having someone at the back to be in charge. Jovanovic probably brings out the best in Jhingan if we compare Jhingan with the other centre backs he has played with.

Aleksandar Jovanovic had to be in there, he had to make just one tackle. He had a passing accuracy of 86%, and doing that shows you his positioning was brilliant in the game. When there was a scramble in the Bengaluru FC box, Jovanovic was there to be a calming presence.

Subhasish Bose (ATK Mohun Bagan FC)

He has been the left back of the season so far. When we look at his numbers against FC Goa, 11 tackles (seven of them were successful), he created one chance, made two successful interceptions, had a shot blocked and he has become Juan Ferrando’s first name on the team sheet. It is a clear cut left back option for Ferrando.

Midfielders:

Ahmed Jahouh (Mumbai City FC)

Ahmed Jahouh is a no brainer. The amount of control he offers Des Buckingham’s side is fantastic. When you look at these numbers, 101 total passes were attempted, and 84 of those were completed. That is a great return in the middle of the park, add to that a goal and the number of tackles he makes—four out of the seven tackles he won with one brilliant interception and I think Buckingham has to start Jahouh. There were doubts initially in terms of how he would play but the way he is playing Ahmed Jahouh was quite easily leading the title charge for Mumbai City FC.

Javi Hernandez (Bengaluru FC)

Javi Hernandez is on the team because it has been a while since this kind of performance has come from him. Two goals with the opener being with his weak foot, it was a fantastic finish and the second one was brilliant and it was class going past Dheeraj Singh and slotting it in.

He was a constant nuisance for FC Goa, and the fact that Edu Bedia was not playing allowed Javi the freedom to run riot in the middle of the park.

Nandhakumar Sekar (Odisha FC)

Nandha, down on the right, scored the winning goal. The finish was beautiful, and I think we are seeing a very confident Nandhakumar with the number of goal contributions he is getting. He had two shots (both on target), was a fantastic winner, and created two other big chances for his team. He tracked back and won the ball many times for Odisha FC, a proper 90 minute appearance for him.

Naorem Mahesh Singh (East Bengal FC)

I don't really have to explain the inclusion of Mahesh. He provided three stunning assists, not even regular goal creations, but had fantastic pin point accuracy and creativity. He was expressing himself, and it was not a one off performance, he has been their best attacker at times, along with Cleiton Silva on the pitch, and if he is going to continue like this, he is going to become a brilliant player.

So, an easy pick. He was the Man of the Match, and you can add that he is just one of four players who have made three assists in a game and probably the first Indian to do that.

Forwards:

Bipin Singh Thounaojam (Mumbai City FC)

He scored a goal and continues to do so, but the number that stood out for me in terms of stats was the number of chances created (five). He is a crossing machine, he pulls it back and is a constant nuisance who is undroppable at the moment. He is playing like Mumbai City FC’s all time top scorer should be playing. He had an 87% passing accuracy, which is not too far behind Greg Stewart, who plays in the middle of the park.

Bipin, with his goal and his remarkable presence in the final third, gets into the side.

Cleiton Silva (East Bengal FC)

Silva scored two goals, playing like a captain and the current leader of the Golden Boot chart. He scored when his team needed him the most and made the perfect runs for Naorem Mahesh Singh to find him.

His intelligence and timing—the "golden touch" in the box—made him an easy choice.

Head Coach:

Stephen Constantine (East Bengal FC)

Constantine over Grayson this week was a tough call. It was simply because Constantine allowed East Bengal FC to play with the kind of expression they are showing, and the counterattacking seems to be a very clear indication of how he wants his team to play.

Grayson was under pressure, and he did extremely well to get a result. It is just impressive how Constantine has very quickly figured out how to play and make the most of the team he has. Some of the midfield play and some of the play down the tight spaces on both the left and right flanks was something we as Indian football fans haven’t seen a Constantine team do and it is heartening to see it work out for East Bengal FC.

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