Chennai | Chennaiyin FC will take on Kerala Blasters FC in an ISL encounter here Thursday with an aim to reignite its faltering campaign.
The defending champion (on 4 points) has struggled to make an impact, notching up a solitary win so far and has suffered six defeats, the most this season alongside FC Pune City. John Gregory’s team bounced back with a win against FC Pune but suffered a setback against Jamshedpur in the previous game. Now, with a couple of games in the space of four days, the Chennai team will be hoping to turn things around before it is too late.
Languishing at ninth in the points table just ahead of a winless Delhi Dynamos, the home side needs to step up several notches if it has to put it across the Blasters, who have been patchy this season.
The famed Chennaiyin defence has not been at its best and 16 goals have been scored against the team so far. It would be a worry for Gregory, who will be desperate for better times. The forward line too hasn’t fired on all cylinders with last year’s star Jeje Lalpheklua being inconsistent and being relegated to a minor role.
There is a chance that the under-performing Karanjit Singh could miss out after his struggles against Jamshedpur. Gregory has tried several strategies without much success including Carlos Salom in place of the off-colour Jeje.
Chennaiyin’s star players haven’t delivered so far, perhaps leaving the coach with the option of trying out untested players. Kerala Blasters itself hasn’t been doing very well, with only a win to show. It had allowed NEU FC to snatch a win by conceding late goals and the team would be keen to avoid any more slip-ups.
David James’ men are on a seven-match winless run and the habit of conceding late goals has hurt the team. The onus is on the established names like Vineeth and Sandesh Jhingan to shine and lift the team’s morale. They have four more games before the Christmas break to reignite a faltering campaign.
Both teams have a lot to play for and it remains to be seen who can get back the season on track.