Tactical battles and strategic duels were on show as four out of five matches ended in a draw to put a curtain on matchweek 9, as an action-loaded matchweek 10 is knocking at the door where all 12 teams will look to step onto the pitch to amplify the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023–24 season starting from December 12.

FC Goa will host Mumbai City FC on Tuesday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa for the inaugural match of this seven-match-long matchweek, which is scheduled from December 12 to December 17. Chennaiyin FC will follow up by hosting Bengaluru FC on Wednesday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai. Thursday’s game will see Punjab FC look horns against Kerala Blasters at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi.

The Highlanders will take on the Mariners on their home turf on Friday. Saturday will see a doubleheader when the Blues and the Islanders will be seen again in charge within the same matchweek. Bengaluru FC will host Jamshedpur FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru, followed by Mumbai City FC playing against East Bengal FC at the Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai.

Matchweek 10 will conclude at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, where Hyderabad FC will be eyeing their first win of the season in an away fixture against Odisha FC.

As the brand new matchweek 10 is just around the corner, let’s have a quick look at the key narratives to keep an eye on.

The Clash of Unbeaten Powerhouses

It’s going to be one of the most entertaining matches of this week, as two unbeaten sides will face each other in the opening game of matchweek 10. FC Goa will face newly appointed Petr Kratky’s Mumbai City FC at their home on December 12. The Gaurs will be determined to turn the tide this time, having lost to the Islanders in their last five outings.

But this year, under Manolo Marquez, we are seeing a rejuvenated FC Goa, which has found its old charm and spark in their brand of football. With 19 points in their first seven matches, FC Goa dominated the top spot in the points table. However, the Islanders will leave no stone unturned to present a tough challenge, as they have also been in great form after defeating Bengaluru FC by a big 4-0 scoreline.

Who will have the ultimate smile after the Southern rivalry?

Bengaluru FC are unbeaten in their last five outings against Chennaiyin FC in the ISL. Though the Blues have been facing some difficulties this season, having won only one game so far this season, they will be aiming to bounce back in the Southern rivalry.

Moving forward to this season, the Marina Machans are getting back to their rhythm and demonstrating their attacking prowess and defensive stability. Owen Coyle’s men would like to continue their three-match unbeaten run when they host Bengaluru FC on December 13.

Confident Shers will search for their first win

Punjab FC are slowly adapting themselves to the ISL with their performances. Though the Shers have yet to secure their first ISL win, they showcased their competitiveness against Bengaluru FC and East Bengal FC to secure valuable points.

Despite narrowly losing their last league game against FC Goa, the Yellow Army will be looking to get back to winning ways, as Ivan Vukomanovic’s side showed immense promise with their performances so far this season, having won 17 points in nine matches.

Can the Highlanders halt the Mariners’ unbeaten run?

Mohun Bagan Super Giant etched their name into history by winning their five opening games of the season. With a formidable squad filled with sensational forwards and a tenacious defence, the Mariners have emerged as a huge threat to their opponents.

On the other hand, NorthEast United FC dropped points in their last three outings. The Highlanders faced a huge 5-0 defeat against East Bengal FC last week and also shared spoils against Hyderabad FC in their last match. This fixture could see an intense tactical battle between Juan Ferrando and Juan Pedro Benali on December 15.

Blues vs Reds at Kanteerava

The Blues will be seen twice this week, as they will face Jamshedpur FC on December 16, this time at their home. Though Bengaluru FC seemed to be struggling in their last few outings, they will be aiming to get the better of the Red Miners by utilising their home crowd support.

The situation is quite similar for Jamshedpur FC, who are just behind the Blues by a single-point margin. Scott Cooper’s men started the league by showcasing their defensive compactness and solid foundation at the back. But they have also proved their offensive prowess with time. As the Red Miners have faced consecutive defeats against the Blues in their three outings in the ISL, they will be determined to turn things around this time.

Petr Kratky set for home bow

Saturday's doubleheader will telecast Mumbai City FC welcoming the Kolkata-based East Bengal FC in their second match of this matchweek. The Red and Gold Brigade will look to enlarge their three-match unbeaten steak when they face the Islanders on December 16.

It will be Mumbai City FC head coach Petr Kratky’s second match in charge of the Islanders but the first match at home. Though East Bengal FC won their last match against Mumbai City FC with Naorem Mahesh Singh’s solitary goal, this time the Islanders will bring in more difficulties to continue their unbeaten streak at home.

Amrinder or Gurmeet—who will be the X-factor?

The concluding match of matchweek 10 will see a battle between two Indian custodians under the bars. The scenarios are totally different for both teams, as Thangboi Singto’s Hyderabad FC are going through transition while Sergio Lobera’s Odisha FC have been progressing well under their experienced Spaniard.

The Juggernauts have been dynamic so far with their style of play, while Hyderabad FC have been winless in their last nine matches. Though there is a big difference in the league table between both teams, their custodians have been one of their biggest strengths in terms of similarities.