The six ths eason of the ISL is just two-month-old and it has already seen players changing form drastically, with some slowly fading away while some throbbing back to life. With some initial fumblers finding their mojo again, here are the studs and duds after 34 matches this season, so far.
Arnold Issoko - How Mumbai City FC are sitting third on the table is surprising to many despite their form on road being unquestionably impressive because Jorge Costa’s largely criticized negative football almost always make them the underdogs in any fixture. But, it stresses one to think how much the manager trusts his forwards who are under constant pressure to make the most of half chances. And this is where Arnold Issoko plays a pivotal role. With a built that is ideal to both outmuscle and outpace any defender in the league, the Congolese international has single-handedly taken Mumbai to the top. He has two goals and an assist in six matches and a whole of hard work that could amount to close chances.
Edu Bedia - Easily the best playmaker in the league this season so far, the Spaniard has been in some serious form with Hugo Boumous and Ferran Corominas further bringing fruition to his vision. His consistency is one of the biggest aspect league leaders, FC Goa, are thriving on at the moment. Given the free role that Sergio Lobera has given him in a side, where every other player have clearly defined responsibilities, speaks volumes about him. What makes the player all the more special is that apart from his ability to find the most effective option when Goa are countering, Bedia also possesses the perfect finishing ability with both the feet and with his head. He has four goals and two assists in six games.
Mailson Alves - His story had to scripted, for there was no other way it could pan out the way it did. After some disastrous results defensively for Chennaiyin City in the first three games, manager John Gregory had to take the strict call of benching the Brazilian centre-half. Full-back Inigo Calderon was seen taking his place although to no avail before the English manager decided to bring his veteran defender back in a tricky fixture against FC Pune City. It was as if every CFC fan had prayed for Alves to step up and claim his place before Ashique Kuruniyan provided an early jolt with an opener in the ninth minute itself, yet another defensive fumble. Chennai were in need of inspiration and Alves gave them just that with a goal and an assist as the visitors eventually won 4-2.
Amrinder Singh - For a side living by the “defence first” philosophy, the goalkeeper shouldn’t be the most important player to rely upon. However, despite committing seven odd players in their defensive third, Mumbai City’s savior has more often than not been Amrinder Singh. The custodian could easily claim to have the safest pair of hands in the league so far. Of course, with a staunch defence standing ahead of him, which has only conceded eight goals (only one more than NorthEast United FC), things become easy for Amrinder, but his collection of the ball from set-pieces and releasing it with pin-point accuracy putting forwards prime positions on the counter is what makes his special. Sitting behind Francisco Dorronsoro and Muhammad Nawaz in number of saves made, Amrinder gets less credit than he deserves.
Michael Soosairaj - He has taken the league by storm with his quick feet inside the box amidst the congested defence and also with his giant strides when he is in the open spaces. Joining Jamshedpur FC from Chennai City, the side that has dominated the I-League so far, Soosairaj has announced his arrival with three goals in six matches and he didn’t even play the full 90 minutes in some of them. An attacking midfielder primarily, who has found a new adventure on the left flank under manager Cesar Ferrando, Soosairaj is one of Jamshedpur’s Gen Y candidates who has kept stars on the bench with their blistering displays. After FC Goa, Jamshedpur have the most attacking style of play and Ferrando’s direct playing strategy has the 24-year-old at the heart of it
Andrija Kaludjerovic - If not for FC Pune City’s horrendous form in the league so far, which was further compounded by the change in management, Delhi Dynamos would have been at the rock bottom. Josep Gombau has been the only Spanish managar, who has failed to identify the dynamics of ISL so far, with his players looking largely clueless running around in the field, and Andrija Kaludjerovic’s form could well be summed up in Delhi’s form. Brought in from A-league, which is way more competitive than ISL, Andrija has failed to find his feet in India with just one goal in the last eight games. While his poor form, which led him to squander numerous easy chances, could be one of the major reason for his setback, Gombau not pronouncing his role has also affected the Serbian striker’s form.
Emiliano Alfaro - At the heart of FC Pune City’s problems lies the underwhelming form of Emiliano Alfaro and Marcelinho. The duo was the lynchpin to their success last season and them failing has been calamitous for the franchise as a whole that still has talents like Ashique Kuruniyan, Marko Stankovic and more. Last season Alfaro was directly involved in 12 goals for Pune in 17 games, and this season he has already missed two penalties ending up with just one goal from six games. The star striker became so useless for Pune that they have eventually loaned him off to ATK for the second half of the season after Kalu Uche’s groin injury has left a void in the Kolkata-based franchise’s forward line. Finally, the Marcelinho-Alfaro partnership comes to an end.
Lenny Rodrigues - FC Goa are at the top of the table but ask Sergio Lobera and he might reveal that his team still doesn’t have a complete control over their game. The Spanish tactician has very cleverly imported players in the correct positions that could change the face of a game, but more than anything, it has brought out the flaws in Goa’s other players. For a team that pushes up as many players as possible at every chance, Lenny Rodrigues losing the ball cheaply in the midfield could be a big liability. Coming from Bengaluru FC, where the front three did most of the scoring job, Lenny has struggled on the ball in Goa, where every player plays a crucial role in the buildup. Though his quick track backing is a saving grace, Lenny is still a problem for the league leaders.
Marcos Tebar - Like every season, Delhi’s struggles in the league has been anyone’s guess. Like every season, the franchise had decided to go for a big revamp and like every season, they have failed miserably. However, among their recruitments before the season started was Marcos Tebar, who had played a crucial role for FC Pune City’s playoffs journey and the former Real Madrid product was expected to be the most important player for the side. But, either for his injury-plagues pre season or Josep Gombau’s wrong management, the player hasn’t even been a shadow of his former self. His position in the midfield has been continuously experimented with and it hasn’t helped him much either.
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