Goal-shy NorthEast hit the road to face determined Mumbai

Mumbai City FC return to Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 action when they welcome NorthEast United FC to the Mumbai Football Arena on Friday. Currently sitting fifth on the points table with 20 points from 14 matches, the Islanders are in the race for a semi-final berth and could go above Odisha FC in fourth should they manage to get the better of the Highlanders.

Robert Jarni’s men, meanwhile, will be hopeful of having a successful end to a season, which for them, began on a very good note but has slightly derailed in the last two months. Historically, Mumbai have done better in this particular fixture, winning six and losing just three of their 11 previous encounters with NorthEast.

Mumbai City FC

Having led the encounter for close to 50 minutes, the Islanders would have been disappointed to concede a last-minute penalty which denied them all three points against Hyderabad FC last week. Fortunately for them, Odisha failed to capitalise on their meeting with FC Goa on Wednesday, which meant the gap between fourth and fifth place is still just a single point.

The Islanders will be looking at that gap with eager eyes and could take a big step towards their ambitions with a win over the Highlanders. Their improved home form will give them further encouragement as they’ve won two of their last three matches in Mumbai. However, there’s still room for improvement with the Islanders having the league’s third-worst points per match tally at home.

Meanwhile, given the Highlanders’ plight on their travels in recent matches, Mumbai head coach Jorge Costa could revert to a 4-3-3 formation and enable more freedom to the likes of Mohamed Larbi and Diego Carlos. In their last match, the Islanders played in a 4-2-3-1 shape, which prevented them space and consequently resulted in a fewer number of attempts at the opposition goal. Costa even hinted at that in his post-match interview after the Hyderabad game, suggesting how his team failed to create many openings.

NorthEast United FC

Without the presence of Asamoah Gyan, the Hero ISL 2018-19 semi-finalists have hardly gotten out of second gear and have looked a shadow of themselves in the last two months. Their form, both home and away, is concerning with the club on a three-match losing streak on their travels. An even more worrying statistic for the NorthEast faithful is that Jarni and Co. have failed to score a single goal in those three matches.

Even bottom-placed Hyderabad have scored more goals through the season compared to the Highlanders’ tally of nine from 12 matches. After a fantastic start to the season, attackers like Redeem Tlang and Martin Chaves have steadily failed in their ability to replicate the form and goal-scoring ability of Gyan. Since December, the club have found the back of the net just twice in seven matches whilst drawing a blank in five of them.

However, not everything has been bleak for the Guwahati-based club as they boast the third-best defence in the league so far. The performance of goalkeeper Subhasish Roy is a central part of that, with the 33-year-old averaging 4.09 saves per match – the highest saves per match ratio out of all the goalkeepers in the league. Subhasish also has the third-highest save percentage in the league – something which he’ll be hoping to utilize to help the Highlanders win all three points.

Probable line-ups

Mumbai City FC: Amrinder Singh (GK), Valpuia, Mato Grgic, Subhasish Bose, Sarthak Golui, Diego Carlos, Mohamed Larbi, Rowllin Borges, Sourav Das, Amine Chermiti, Modou Sougou

NorthEast United FC: Subhasish Roy (GK), Reagan Singh, Heerings Kai, Mislav Komorski, Rakesh Pradhan, Lalengmawia, Redeem Tlang, Milan Singh, Federico Gallego, Martin Chaves, Andrew Keogh

Did you know?

  • NorthEast are the only team to score less than 10 goals so far this season.
  • Mumbai City have scored 11 goals in each half this season.
  • NorthEast are the only team yet to score from a cross or a counter-attack.

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2019-20 Match 71: Mumbai City FC vs NorthEast United FC

Date: January 31 (Friday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Hotstar and Jio TV

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