NorthEast United vs Jamshedpur: Preview and Prediction
It has been a forgetful season for NorthEast United and Jamshedpur so far and the bottom two placed teams in the league standings come face to face on Saturday at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati, looking to finish their campaign on a high. With both sides out of the playoffs race already, there is little more than pride to salvage for them.
After struggling to pick up their first point of the season, the Highlanders got Vincenzo Alberto Annese to take over and they have certainly improved in recent weeks, but he will need a complete revamp to fully implement his philosophies.
On the other hand, the Men of Steel have had an astonishing fall from grace having won the League Winners Shield last term, but this season they won’t even make the playoffs. Still, they have shown faith in Aidy Boothroyd, and it remains to be seen whether the Englishman and turn things around next season. For now, the motive would be for both sides to finish as high as they can in the league table.
With both the clubs rooted to the foot of the table, clearly, neither team has been able to pick up points with consistency. The Red Miners began the season on a promising note, holding Mumbai City to a 1-1 draw, followed by a 1-0 win over the Highlanders back in October, but their struggles have only gotten worse in the subsequent weeks.
In a total of 16 matches, they have taken only 9 points, with just 2 wins all season. Apart from the win over their next opponents, Boothroyd’s side collected all 3 points when they beat East Bengal 2-1 earlier this month.
However, in the next two matches, they were beaten by Bengaluru 3-0 and the Islanders by 2-1. The most recent outing against the league leaders was still a promising show and they will be hoping to pick up only their 3rd win of the campaign.
As far as Alberto Annese’s men are concerned, their season began on a horrific note as they lost 10 games in a row, before finally registering their first points on the board as they edged ATK Mohun Bagan 1-0.
A 2-2 draw with Goa earned them another point and that’s all, they have only collected 4 points all season out of 16 matches, scoring the fewest goals (13) and have conceded the most (43).
When it comes to the head-to-head record, the Men of Steel have been utterly dominant having won five matches from a total of 11 meetings in the league while the Highlanders have only won once. The remaining 5 matches ended all square.
While Alberto Annese has been trying different formations and personnel to find his best-suited playing XI, Boothroyd too made many changes early in the season but he isn’t tinkering too much with his side in recent weeks.
It will be interesting to see how the Highlanders lineup against the Men of Steel since the former Gokulam Kerala coach opted for an adventurous 4-3-3 against the Islanders but switched to a more conventional 4-4-2 for their most recent outing against the Blasters which they lost 0-2.
Wilmar Jordan will return to the lineup after serving his 1-match suspension, while Arindam Bhattacharya returned to the side recently, despite Mirshad Michu being the first choice since Alberto Annese took over.
The Red Miners meanwhile will be expected to line up in their tried and tested 4-4-2, with Vishal Yadav in goal, Laldinliana Renthlei, Pratik Chaudhari, Eli Sabia, and Ricky Lallawmawma in defense.
Boris Singh Thangjam and Ritwik Das are likely to start on the flanks, with Pranoy Halder and Jay-Emmanuel Thomas in the middle of the park. Harry Sawyer and Daniel Chima Chukwu will be expected to lead the line.
Predicted Starting XIs
NorthEast United (4-2-3-1): Mirshad Michu; Alex Saji, Gaurav Bora, Aaron Evans, Gurjinder Kumar; Pragyan Gogoi, Kule Mbombo, Emil Benny; Romain Philippoteaux, Jithin Madathil Subran, Wilmar Jordan.
Jamshedpur (4-4-2): Vishal Yadav; Laldinliana Renthlei, Pratik Chaudhari, Eli Sabia, Ricky Lallawmawma; Boris Singh Thangjam, Pranoy Halder, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas Ritwik Das; Harry Sawyer, Daniel Chima Chukwu.
While the Highlanders will be cheered on by their home support, they are likely to have a hard time against the Men of Steel. Both sides come into this fixture after losing their previous outings and thus they both will have a point to prove. That being said, Boothroyd’s men will fancy their chances of doing the double over the club from Guwahati.