ATK travel to Guwahati in a bid to end NorthEast’s unbeaten run
NorthEast United FC are due for a tough test when they welcome two-time Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) champions ATK at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium on Saturday. One of only two unbeaten sides so far in the 2019-20 season, the Highlanders have been quite formidable and will look to surge up the table with a win over the Kolkata-based side. ATK, though, are currently second in the table with 11 points from six outings and will represent a steep challenge for Robert Jarni’s men.
Despite losing multiple stars from last season, Jarni has done a brilliant job in keeping the club competitive and near the business end of the table. A good defence has formed the basis of their run so far, having conceded just six times in as many matches. The return of Kai Heerings, who was suspended in the last two matches, will also further strengthen the backline – a much-needed boost considering ATK’s considerable attacking prowess.
Besides the back four, Redeem Tlang and Jose Leudo have greatly contributed to the defensive side of things, with Redeem leading the tackles chart and Leudo having the most number of interceptions in the Highlanders squad. More of the same will be expected from the duo against ATK, who, if allowed space and time in midfield, can seriously hurt Jarni’s defence.
In the attacking third, Panagiotis Triadis and Martin Chaves have come into their own in the last couple of matches. The former has scored two in two, while Chaves has created 12 chances so far this season – the third best tally in the league. Asamoah Gyan will pose the biggest threat for the ATK defence, especially considering the Ghanaian has found the net in each of the Highlanders’ three home matches this season.
Roy Krishna’s goal in the dying seconds of ATK’s last match against Mumbai City FC perfectly symbolizes the kind of spirit Antonio Lopez Habas has instilled in his team since taking over the club. The two-time champions sit just two points off the top of the table, with 11 points from six matches, and are unbeaten since their loss to Kerala Blasters FC on the opening day of the season.
While most teams have excelled in one area of the pitch, the Kolkata-based club have been outstanding at both ends. The club have scored the joint-most goals and have the second-best defensive record in the league. David Williams starred for the side last month with Krishna has expertly taken over the burden with three goals and one assist in the last four matches.
Despite going up against a very dangerous NorthEast attack, Habas will be quietly confident of his defence churning out another shutout. Anas Edathodika, Agustin Iniguez and Pritam Kotal have been rock solid so far and have the ability to keep out even the best of attackers. Agustin, who missed the Mumbai match with an illness, is expected to come right back into the starting line-up. Habas will, however, be without Carl McHugh, who sustained an ankle injury in the match against Mumbai. The Irishman has been a fixture in Habas’ squads so far this season and is an integral piece of the Spaniard’s plans. But with Edu Garcia and Sehnaj Singh at his disposal, Habas will have very viable replacements he can turn to.
Adding to their confidence will be ATK’s impressive record in Guwahati, where they’ve lost just once and kept three clean sheets in five attempts.
NorthEast United FC: Subhasish Roy (GK), Mislav Komorski, Wayne Vaz, Rakesh Pradhan, Reagan Singh, Jose Leudo, Panagiotis Triadis, Redeem Tlang, Martin Chaves, Milan Singh, Asamoah Gyan
ATK: Arindam Bhattacharja (GK), Pritam Kotal, Anas Edathodika, Prabir Das, Agustin Iniguez, Edu Garcia, Jayesh Rane, Javier Hernandez, Michael Soosairaj, David Williams, Roy Krishna
Did you know?
- NorthEast have conceded just two goals this season in the second-half.
- ATK have kept 3 clean sheets in the 5 matches in Guwahati.
- ATK have scored 12 goals after 6 matches – their best offensive start to a season.
Javier Hernandez or Martin Chaves. Which player will have a bigger impact on the fixture?
Have your say in the comments below.
Live broadcast schedule:
Hero ISL 2019-20 Match 33: NorthEast United FC vs ATK
Time: 7:30 PM onwards, December 7
Channels: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Hotstar and Jio TV