Mumbai City’s season seems to have taken a turn for the better in recent weeks. Following their 5-0 drubbing in Goa, the Islanders have won two games on the trot, against Delhi Dynamos and Chennaiyin, and now travel to the eastern reaches of the country to take on NorthEast United. The Highlanders have been one of the most impressive sides in the ISL this season, picking up 11 points from their five games while playing some brilliant attacking football. Eelco Schattorie’s boys are yet to win at home, though and will be looking to correct this anomaly against a Mumbai side who have been poor travellers.
Continuity breeds confidence for Costa
Having taken some time to suss out his squad, Jorge Costa seems to have finally settled on his preferred playing XI. The Portuguese has fielded the same side in Mumbai City’s last two games, barring an enforced change in goal, and this continuity in selection looks like it has finally got Mumbai’s season on track. Joyner Lourenco has partnered Lucian Goian at the back, while the two Singhs, Sehnaj and Milan, have anchored midfield effectively, allowing Rafael Bastos, Arnold Issoko and Paulo Machado the freedom to play and create chances for Modou Sougou, who now has three goals in his last four games. Their last game saw them pick up a 1-0 win away at the beleaguered defending champions, Chennaiyin FC, where the Senegalese was the matchwinner.
That said, goalscoring is still a significant problem for the Islanders – they have only scored six goals in their six games so far, with a mediocre conversion rate of 8.1%. The hope is that the aforementioned consistency of selection allows the players to familiarise themselves with each other, thus leading to more fluid football. The immediate task at hand for Costa, however, is to come away from Guwahati with at least a point – a formidable challenge given their opponents’ form.
Highlanders on the rise
Eelco Schattorie’s boys are still unbeaten this season, alongside Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC, but in a peculiar state of affairs, have not won a game at home yet, only managing draws in their two games thus far at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium. A nine-day break since their last game, a 2-0 away win over Delhi Dynamos, should mean that the Highlanders are well-rested ahead of this tie against the side directly below them in the table. Key to their success this season has been the partnership between Bartholomew Ogbeche and Federico Gallego – the duo scored the goals in that win over Delhi, and have generally tormented defences throughout this season. Ogbeche, of course, leads the goalscoring charts this season alongside Ferran Corominas with six goals. That said, NorthEast have been extremely clinical so far with an impressive 18.18% conversion rate this season – in stark contrast to Mumbai’s woes in front of goal. Whether they can keep it up remains to be seen; however, based on their respective campaigns up till this point, they should have enough firepower to take all three points against a slightly leaky Mumbai side.
Northeast United (4-4-2): Kumar; Reagan, Gurwinder, Grgic, Lalthlamuana; Tlang, Borges, Leudo, Gallego; Ogbeche, Mascia
Mumbai City FC (4-2-3-1): Amrinder; Chakrabarti, Goian, Lourenco, Bose; Sehnaj, Milan; Issoko, Machado, Bastos; Sougou
Both sides are expected to name unchanged sides from their previous games.
While Mumbai City have improved on their travels of late, NorthEast should still have enough to beat them – their home form seems to be an anomaly, and normal service should resume today. I am going for a 2-1 home win.