In-form Chennaiyin host stuttering ATK
The only two clubs to have won the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) in its brief history go head to head on Thursday when Chennaiyin FC welcome ATK to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai. The 2015 winners are on a good run, having notched up two successive victories following a setback in their opening match. They were particularly impressive in their last match where they kept a rampant Pune side in check, while also managing to find a winner. Chennai will want to continue their winning momentum against ATK, who haven’t enjoyed the best of starts this season. The defending champions were held to a goalless draw against league debutants Jamshedpur FC in their last fixture, and for the first time are winless after playing their first three fixtures of a campaign. Injuries have not been kind to them either, but they will look for a turnaround in fortunes when they visit Chennai.
HEAD TO HEAD
Chennaiyin FC 1 – 3 ATK. 4 draws
Gregory Nelson (Chennaiyin FC)
The Dutchman has run tirelessly on the left flank in each of Chennaiyin’s previous three matches. He possesses pace, power and an eye for picking key passes. Having initiated a good number of attacks from the wings, he has more often than not been involved in the build-up to a goal. The hosts will be relying on the 29-year-old’s service when they go up against ATK.
Prabir Das (ATK)
The 23-year-old is one of the most talented full-backs in the league and has been a regular in the ATK backline. Quick and strong, he is comfortable thwarting opposition attackers as well as surging forward on the right flank to deliver quality crosses. Das also demonstrates great commitment while tracking back, and is one of the busiest players in the ATK squad. He will be a key figure for Kolkata in both attack and defence against Chennai.
POTENTIAL STARTING LINEUPS
Chennai may start with a 4-5-1 formation as preferred by head coach John Gregory. It allows him to use the flanks and the midfield to good effect while keeping Jeje Lalpekhlua as the focal point in attack.
Goalkeeper: Karanjit Singh
Defenders: Jerry Lalrinzuala, Henrique Sereno, Mailson Alves, Inigo Calderon
Midfielders: Gregory Nelson, Thoi Singh, Raphael Augusto, Francisco Fernandes, Dhanpal Ganesh
Forwards: Jeje Lalpekhlua
Gregory on his team’s mindset in every game: “We’ve scored three in the final 10 minutes which shows that my boys keep going until the final whistle. As I said, they’ve got a real willingness to work for each other. We’re really close as a team and that shows on the pitch.”
Teddy Sheringham may opt for a traditional 4-4-2 formation for ATK as he looks to strike a balance between attack and defence.
Goalkeeper: Jussi Jaaskelainen
Defenders: Keegan Pereira, Tom Thorpe, Jordi Figueras Montel, Prabir Das
Midfielders: Hitesh Sharma, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Conor Thomas, Bipin Singh
Forwards: Zequinha, Robin Singh
Kolkata’s head coach on his team’s overall performance this season and the way forward: “We have lots of plans. But as you said, it has not been the best of starts. We have had a few setbacks along the way. But I believe we are not far away and we need to do better.”
- The only time Chennaiyin FC beat ATK was in the first leg of the semi-finals in Hero ISL 2015. The 3-0 win was good enough to propel Chennai to the final (after a 4-2 aggregate victory), and ultimately become champions
- ATK and Chennaiyin are the only two champions in league history
Chennaiyin FC 1 – 1 ATK (20th November 2016 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai)