Mumbai City FC have reached the midway point of the season without losing a single game, and they intend to keep that streak intact when they take on Chennaiyin FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Mumbai Football Arena, in Mumbai, on Saturday. Earlier this season, when the two sides met at the Marina Arena, the Islanders came from two goals down to win 6-2.

Last week, Mumbai City FC continued their fine run in the Hero ISL with a convincing victory over East Bengal FC. Lalengmawia Ralte scored his first ever Hero ISL brace and Greg Stewart was back on the scoresheet as Des Buckingham’s men moved back up into first place.

The overall team performance of Mumbai City FC, from defence to attack, have been on a different level so far this season. The Islanders are averaging three goals per match, and the average goal concession per match is at one. Jorge Diaz is one goal shy of the league’s leading goalscorer Nasser El Khayati, who scored in the reverse fixture but will miss the second meeting. 

“They [Chennaiyin FC] have got some good players, but so have we. We have our way of doing things and will set ourselves up because we have control over that. We don’t know what team or formation they will play,” said Buckingham. “The attention and focus is always mostly on us. We will try our best to nullify their attacks, making sure that when we have the ball, we have a lot of different things we can do in the game to gain success,” he added.

Chennaiyin FC were dominant against NorthEast United FC a couple of weeks ago before settling for a point against Kerala Blasters FC last week. The Marina Machans were trailing before Vincy Baretto leveled the score, ensuring a point for Thomas Brdaric’s side. With 20 goals scored in ten games, Chennaiyin are the closest on the table to their opponents’ 30.

Ahead of the game, the visitors have been dealt a huge blow as their talismanic midfielder El Khayati is injured and not part of the traveling squad. The Dutchman has scored seven goals in as many games, also nabbing four assists in the process. In a game of such high intensity, El Khayati will surely be missed by Brdaric and his team. 

“Unfortunately, Nasser [El Khayati] will not be in the squad due to an injury. He is disappointed because he has been in very good shape. We need him as a leader, and his abilities add a lot of value to our game,” said Brdaric. “We don’t know exactly when he will return. He could also miss the game in Jamshedpur. We are trying everything we can to bring him back to full fitness, but as of now, we have to focus on playing with the players we have,” he added.

Including the eight-goal fixture earlier this season, the two sides have clashed 17 times in the Hero ISL. Mumbai City FC have won eight games, while Chennaiyin FC have emerged victorious on six occasions.