In many ways, Chennaiyin FC handed ATK Mohun Bagan an easy escape route after almost pulling off a win over the Indian Super League (ISL) league leaders.
Chennaiyin head coach Csaba Laszlo would be in a very curious situation. His team played very well against one of the toughest outfits in the ISL to play against. And it is not about just possession, which ATKMB are happy to let you have. It was all about enjoying the lion’s share of the ball and troubling Habas’ side.
Their front four of Rafael Crivellaro, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Jakub Sylvestr and Rahim Ali, ably supported by the hardworking Memo and Anirudh Thapa, did really well to disrupt the ATKMB backline and give Arindam Bhattacharya plenty of exercise throughout the game.
Even after the influential Crivellaro was forced off after a crude tackle from Pronay Halder, Chennaiyin continued to threaten, which is a testament to the system that Laszlo has implemented.
However, despite all that, Chennaiyin’s perplexing woes in front of goal continued. Sylvestr, so good and impressive in the build-up, continued to forget his shooting boots once he got into the area.
Chhangte, enterprisingly brilliant down the left flank, was denied by Arindam on a few occasions while even Enes Sipovic and Eli Sabia had opportunities to score from set-piece situations. But it was just not to be.
ATK Mohun Bagan would consider themselves unlucky as the referee failed to spot the kick by Reagan Singh on David Williams in the first half which should have been a penalty. The trouble for the Kolkata outfit is that they have scored eight goals in as many matches but only three players, namely Roy Krishna (five), Manvir Singh (two) and David Williams (one) have contributed so far.
If you compare this with what transpired in the last season, the likes of Javier Hernandez, who is currently injured, Edu Garcia, Michael Soosairaj, who too is on the treatment table, and a few more players contributed to their cause in the attack. Antonio Habas would certainly have this in the back of his mind when his team takes to the field in their next match against NorthEast United.
In only two games this season, ATK Mohun Bagan’s defence was under pressure – against FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC. Both teams are known for their attacking brand of play however, in Chennaiyin’s case, the chances created were more clear-cut.
It was thanks to Arindam Bhattacharya’s alacrity that they were denied on at least four occasions. The experienced custodian has rolled back the years and has been amongst the top performers for the Kolkata outfit.
The Marina Machans have lost just two games so far but have, worryingly, drawn four and that is solely due to their poor goalscoring form. They will need to turn it around in the next couple of games, against Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC, and start to climb up that table.
And the key to that might be the return of Isma Goncalves who was excellent in the first game of the season where they defeated Jamshedpur FC. There's a lot of questions that Laszlo needs to address.