The teams are in contrasting positions in the league table.
East Bengal are set to be back at home to take on Kerala Blasters in Kolkata on Friday. The Red & Gold Brigade suffered a humiliating loss against FC Goa in their last outing in which the Gaurs beat them 4-2. East Bengal are currently on a four-match losing streak. Playing at home, they will be desperate to break that streak on Friday.
Unlike East Bengal, Kerala Blasters are having a good ISL season. They are sitting comfortably in the top half of the top six, currently in third place just below Hyderabad FC. After losing two games consecutively, the side got back to winning ways in their last game in which they defeated NorthEast United 2-0. They will like to get another three points on Friday, especially against a shoddy East Bengal.
Against such a backdrop, let us take a look at what the encounter has to offer.
The stakes are always high for East Bengal when it comes to league games. With no wins in their last four games, the side is under immense pressure to get at least a point from Friday’s game. With the business end of the league getting nearer, the players will be looking to get some respite for their beleaguered fans. However, it will not be an easy task against an in-form Kerala Blasters.
East Bengal are currently placed ninth with 12 points from 15 games. The side has won only four and lost the remaining 11. A win will take them to 15 points but it will not change their position on the table.
Similar to East Bengal, the stakes of Kerala Blasters are also very high when it comes to league games as they too have a vociferous group of fans. The side is aiming to secure as high a finish as possible. In order to achieve the same, the Yellow Army need to win every game to keep pressure on the higher-ranked teams. In that regard, the game against East Bengal becomes more important as they will hate to lose points against a lower-ranked side.
Kerala Blasters are placed third with 28 points from 15 games. Three points on Friday will take the side to 31 points, keeping them in the same spot.
Injury & Team News
East Bengal have a few niggles in the side. But Jake Jervis has been registered and will be there in the matchday squad if not in the starting line-up. Also, Lalchungnunga is suspended for this game since he has four yellow cards to his name. Kerala Blasters will miss Marko Leskovic and Sandeep Singh in this fixture too! However, their new signing Danish Farooq should be available for selection.
To date, East Bengal and Kerala Blasters have met five times in the ISL.
East Bengal – 0
Kerala Blasters – 2
Drawn – 3
East Bengal (4-4-2)
Kamaljit Singh (GK); Ankit Mukherjee, Sarthak Golui, Ivan Gonzalez, Jerry Lalrinzuala; VP Suhair, Jordan O’Doherty, Mobashir Rahman, Naorem Mahesh Singh; Cleiton Silva, Jake Jervis
Kerala Blasters FC (4-4-2)
Karanjit Singh (GK); Harmanjot Khabra, Hormipam Ruivah, Victor Mongil, Jessel Carneiro; Rahul KP, Jeakson Singh, Adrian Luna, Bryce Miranda; Apostolos Giannou, Dimitrios Diamantakos
Player to Watch
Cleiton Silva (East Bengal)
The most threatening player of East Bengal this season has been Cleiton Silva. Despite not getting much support from the side’s midfield, the striker has scored nine goals in 15 games and is one of the joint second-highest goal-scorers.
The Brazilian has been a ray of hope for East Bengal as he hasn’t disappointed in front of goal. He looks threatening at certain moments in every game. Friday’s game shall not be different and Kerala’s defence will have to keep an eye on him throughout.
Dimitrios Diamantakos (Kerala Blasters)
One of the most exciting signings this year by any club has been Kerala’s Diamantakos. Similar to Cleiton, he has nine goals from 15 games. In their previous outing, he scored a quick brace to seal a 2-0 victory over NorthEast. Thus, he would like to continue with his good form against East Bengal and score on Friday.
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Did You Know?
- The reverse fixture between the two sides was the first game of ISL 2022-23. Kerala Blasters won the game 3-1.
- Harmanjot Khabra of Kerala Blasters is a former East Bengal player and vice captain.
- Kerala Blasters were the runners-up of last season’s ISL while East Bengal finished last.
- East Bengal have never won a game against Kerala Blasters.
The match between East Bengal and Kerala Blasters will take place at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, popularly known as the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata, on February 3rd (Friday). The kick-off time is 7:30 pm IST. The game will be telecasted live on the Star Sports Network. Disney+HotStar and JioTV will also stream the match.
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