Chennaiyin host Kerala as both sides look to cut the gap to top four

Owen Coyle’s home debut as Chennaiyin FC head coach will be against southern rivals, Kerala Blasters FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Friday. In his first game in-charge of the club away to Jamshedpur, the former Burnley manager led the Marina Machans to a commendable point which could have easily been three had they not conceded late on.

Nonetheless, the performance was more than decent and fans will expect more of the same against the Blasters, who come into the game on the back of a seven-game winless run – the longest in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 so far. However, the Kochi-based club are unbeaten against Chennaiyin in the last five meetings between the two, and they will look to take inspiration from that record in the upcoming encounter.

Chennaiyin FC

The two-time champions looked quite impressive in their first match under Coyle and could have easily come away with all three points. Nerijus Valskis was once again, amongst the goals and has easily been the best player for the club so far. The Lithuanian has scored four of the five goals netted by Chennaiyin in the league so far – the biggest contribution of any player in the division. While Coyle will be expecting more of the same from the forward, he will be keen for some of the other players to chip in as well.

Lallianzuala Chhangte and Rafael Crivellaro, thereby, come into the picture and need to step up and support Valskis. The duo can take inspiration from teammate Anirudh Thapa, who has been more like himself in the last few matches. The India international will now be looking to continue that surge in form and really hurt the Blasters with his incisive passes.

Kerala Blasters FC

Despite earning just a single point from their last match against Jamshedpur, the Blasters would have been pleased with a number of aspects of their game. Coming from two goals down was perhaps, the biggest positive from the night and revealed the kind of mentality head coach, Eelco Schattorie has instilled in his players.

Striker Messi Bouli has emerged as a serious star for the club in their recent matches, scoring 50% of the club’s goals in Hero ISL 2019-20 so far. The numbers are especially eye-catching considering the Cameroonian didn’t start the first four matches for the Blasters. Chennaiyin will be wary of the forward especially inside their own box, as 15 of his 21 shots taken have come from within the penalty area. The Blasters have improved at attacking end collectively as well, attempting 49 shots in their last three matches. Schattorie will be counting on his players to replicate those intentions and earn his side a first win since the start of the season.

Probable line-ups:

Chennaiyin FC: Vishal Kaith (GK), Lucian Goian, Eli Sabia, Edwin Vanspaul, Tondonba Singh, Masih Saighani, Anirudh Thapa, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Rafael Crivellaro, Thoi Singh, Nerijus Valskis

Kerala Blaster FC: TP Rehenesh (GK), Mohamad Rakip, Raju Gaikwad, Jessel Carneiro, Vlatko Drobarov, Jeakson Singh, Sergio Cidoncha, Rahul KP, Mario Arques, Messi Bouli, Sahal Abdul Samad

Did you know?

  • Chennaiyin have scored just five goals so far this season – the least in the division.
  • Both Chennaiyin and Kerala Blasters have kept one clean sheet so far – only Hyderabad FC have less.
  • Kerala Blasters are winless in their last 11 away matches.

Fan Speak:

Can Owen Coyle outwit Eelco Schattorie and help Chennaiyin leapfrog the Blasters?

Have your say in the comments below.

Live broadcast schedule:

Hero ISL 2019-20 Match 42: Chennaiyin FC vs Kerala Blasters FC

Time: 7:30 PM onwards, December 20

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Hotstar and Jio TV

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