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ISL: Can Kerala Blasters set a new record by winning three games in a row?

7:45 AM GMT+4 26/12/2021
Sahal Abdul Samad, Chennaiyin FC, Kerala Blasters, ISL 2021/22
Can Sahal Samad add to his goal-tally against Jamshedpur?

Ivan Vukomanovic's men are in a rich vein of form in the ongoing ISL (Indian Super League) as they have not only won their last two matches but have got clean sheets as well. Not many expected that they would trounce Mumbai 3-0 and then follow it up with a win over Chennaiyin with the same margin, especially after getting off to a slow start.

The Serbian tactician speaks of balance and his side seems to have found an elixir that is helping them find the right balance between defence and attack. Marko Leskovic is marshalling the backline with elan and youngster Ruivah Hormipam is growing in stature. The duo lends much-needed stability and Prabhsukhan Gill under the sticks has also been impressive.

In midfield, Jeakson Singh and Lalthanga Khawlring have shown solidity. They are absorbing the pressure, spraying the passes to the wide areas, and are showing enough composure on the ball. In fact, to put Jeakson's effectiveness into perspective, the midfielder has a passing accuracy of 86.89 per cent and averages 41.43 passes in 90 minutes.

However, the blue-eyed boy of the fans has been Sahal Abdul Samad. There was a lot of hue and cry at first when Vukomanovic was using him as a right midfielder but he has shown that he has the mettle to shine in the wide areas as well. The goal-scoring instinct is a welcome revelation and he has found the net thrice in seven matches. Hence, it remains to be seen how Jamshedpur's Ricky Lallawmawma deals with the 24-year-old. Moreover, it must be noted that Alvaro Vasquez and Jorge Diaz are also in good nick which further complicates matters for Jamshedpur FC.

Owen Coyle likes to play with Narender Gahlot and Peter Hartley at the heart of defence but the Scottish manager might as well go for Eli Sabia in place of Gahlot to contain a reinvigorated Blasters' side. However, that would mean he has to sacrifice an overseas player upfront which might see Jordan Murray getting relegated to the bench, and Ishan Pandita making the cut.

Meanwhile, Blasters' defence will have to deal with the threat of Greg Stewart who has been in exceptional form. From having quick feet to scoring goals, the attacking midfielder has all the requisite resources in his armoury to unsettle the opposition defence and it will be interesting to find out how Vukomanovic plans to deal with him.

Let us now take a look at some of the interesting stats provided by Opta Jeev involving these two teams.

  1. Jamshedpur FC have drawn five of their eight Indian Super League games against Kerala Blasters FC (W2 L1), against no other franchise have the Red Miners drawn games more times.
  2. Kerala Blasters are on a six-game unbeaten streak in the ongoing Indian Super League season (W3 D3), the longest such active streak in the league; it is also the Tuskers’ longest unbeaten streak in ISL history.
  3. Kerala Blasters have won each of their last two Indian Super League games with identical 3-0 scorelines; the last time they kept more clean sheets in a row was in December 2014 (three games).
  4. Kerala Blasters FC are on 12 points after their first seven games (W3 D3 L1) in the ongoing Indian Super League season; this is their best tally in ISL history after these many games in any season.
  5. For any defender to have played a minimum of 630 minutes in the current Indian Super League season, Kerala Blasters’ duo of Marko Leskovic and Jessel Carneiro along with Jamshedpur FC’s Laldinliana Renthlei are the only defenders yet to have been dribbled past by any opponent.