ISL 2020-21 preview: ATK Mohun Bagan eyes top spot against shaky NorthEast United

ISL 2020: ATK Mohun Bagan will look to maintain its lead at the top of the table when it takes on a vulnerable NorthEast United at the Fatorda Stadium on Saturday.

Antonio Habas' men have claimed 17 points from eight outings this edition, despite missing heaps of clear-cut chances.    -  Sportzpics

ATK Mohun Bagan will be looking to consolidate its position at the top of the 2020-21 Indian Super League standings when it takes on NorthEast United FC at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao on Saturday.

Antonio Habas' men have claimed 17 points from eight outings this edition, despite missing heaps of clear-cut chances. 

The team's defence has been the best in the league so far, conceding just three and keeping six clean sheets. Goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharja is leading the charge for The Mariners with 24 saves.

Roy Krishna has done the bulk of scoring up front, finding the back of the net five times. Manvir Singh, who has two goals and an assist, is playing second fiddle to the Fijian striker.

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David Williams' return to full fitness is a boost for ATKMB but the Australian forward, who bagged seven goals and five assists last season, is yet to reach his best.

However, Mohun Bagan manager Habas isn't worried about his misfiring attack.

“I would've been worried if we didn't create chances at all, but in football, you can do something in one situation and can't do that in another. Being top of the table is good, but at the same time, it's also a big responsibility for us to continue the good performance," he said.

Habas defended Krishna's performances in the previous two games, while also providing an injury update on Javier Hernandez, who has missed five straight matches.

“I have to analyse the performance of the whole team and not just Roy Krishna. He can score goals but what's important is his attitude and overall performance. Javi was well, but just before the Chennaiyin FC match he had some problem, and we preferred not to force the player," the Spanish coach added.

Meanwhile, after accumulating eight points from its opening four fixtures, NEUFC picked up only three in its next four. With two victories, five draws and a loss, Gerard Nus' outfit is suddenly part of a mid-table melee.

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The Highlanders, who have had a mixed 2020-21 ISL, came from behind to secure a point against Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru FC, while they dropped two from winning positions versus FC Goa and Odisha FC.

NorthEast boss Nus feels his squad has what it takes to breach the ATKMB backline and get back on track in the playoffs race.

"If they concede only three goals in eight games, you know they're doing lots of good things. We'd like to prove those statistics wrong by scoring more goals. In the last game against Odisha, we made a record 18 attempts. That's something we need to feel proud of as no other ISL team has achieved that so far," he told, during a pre-match press conference.

Nus will miss his top-scorer Kwesi Appiah, who is out injured, and the gaffer suggested that he could be active in the January transfer window.

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“We're looking to get Appiah ready as soon as possible. We are discussing everything with the medical department. We want to do everything in our hands to make him ready for the upcoming games.

"In terms of movement in the market, we have our eyes and ears open. To determine the players needed, we have to analyse and consult with the coaching staff and management," he claimed.

As Mohun Bagan chases a sixth win in the tournament, a spot in the top-four is NEUFC's if it comes out on top in the ninth game of the season for either side. 

- THE SQUADS -

ATK Mohun Bagan: Arindam Bhattacharja, Dheeraj Singh, Arsh Shaikh, Aryan Niraj Lamba, Avilash Paul, Tiri (Spain), Sandesh Jhingan, Prabir Das, Pritam Kotal, Subhasish Bose, Sumit Rathi, Boris Singh Thangjam, Edu Garcia (Spain), Michael Soosairaj, Javier Hernandez (Spain), Nongdamba Naorem, Carl McHugh (Ireland), Glan Martins, Jayesh Rane, Pronay Halder, Bradden Inman (Australia), Michael Regin, Sheikh Sahil, Ningombam Engson Singh, Md. Fardin Ali Molla, Roy Krishna (Fiji), Manvir Singh, David Williams (Australia).

NorthEast United FC: Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, Sanjiban Ghosh, Gurmeet Singh, Nikhil Deka, Benjamin Lambot (Belgium), Nim Dorjee Tamang, Dylan Fox (Australia), Wayne Vaz, Ashutosh Mehta, Nabin Rabha, Provat Lakra, Rakesh Pradhan, Gurjinder Kumar, Mashoor Shereef Thangalakath, Khassa Camara (Mauritania), Lalengmawia, Imran Khan, Lalrempuia Fanai, Pragyan Sundar Gogoi, Federico Gallego (Uruguay), Rochharzela, Idrissa Sylla (Guinea), Britto P. M., Ninthoinganba Meetei, Luis Machado (Portugal), Suhair V. P., Kwesi Appiah (Ghana), Lalkhawpuimawia.