The fifth gameweek of the league saw a few closely-fought clashes.

In no time, the I-League 2020-21 season has completed Gameweek 5 and the league is only getting better with every passing day. Teams have figured out their initial flaws and have worked on them to become better versions of themselves. While there is hardly anything to separate the sides in the points table.

League leaders Churchill Brothers could only manage a draw against the high-flying TRAU FC, as Aizawl FC got the better of NEROCA FC. Chennai City FC got back to winning ways against Indian Arrows, RoundGlass Punjab continue their struggle with a draw against Sudeva Delhi. Lastly, Gokulam Kerala and Real Kashmir also shared the spoils in an intense week full of action:

Here are the top highlights from Gameweek 5 of I-League 2020-21:

5. Is Papa Diawara the answer to RG Punjab’s goalscoring woes?

After starting the season with a win, Round Glass Punjab have gone from bad to worse with every passing game. This week they came up with another goalless against Sudeva Delhi. This was Punjab’s second consecutive stalemate and in both games, they have failed to break the deadlock. The forwards have not lived up to expectations till now for Curtis Fleming’s side.

The Northerners lack that firepower upfront, as players like Aphaoba Singh and Ashish Jha are still very raw for the I-League. However, even the experienced players have been wasteful for the Warriors. Hence, they have not scored since their loss against Gokulam Kerala. Players like Pritam Singh, Telem Suranjit Singh, Chencho Gyeltshen have not been clinical enough to take their chances.

Therefore, they have decided to sign former Mohun Bagan forward Papa Babacar Diawara. The Senegalese was sensational for the Mariners last season, as he guided them to the I-League title and now with RG Punjab, he will look to carry that reputation forward. Hopefully, he will have the answers that the side need right now.

4. Chennai City paper over cracks with win over Indian Arrows

WATCH: Chennai City Vs Indian Arrows (1-0), I-League 2020-21

The Southerners started the season with a brilliant win over Gokulam, but HAVE failed to sustain the winning formula. While the win against the Indian Arrows will bring in positivity after two successive losses against Real Kashmir and TRAU, the team are far from their potential best. Head coach Satyasagara and his men would still look to improve. The forwards have been very wasteful in front of goal. While the defensive organization of the team also looks all over the place.

The foreigners will have to take more responsibility at either end of the pitch. Starting from Iqbal Hussain in attack to Elvedin Škrijelj in defence, they need to step up and lead the local players. Among Indian players, only Vijay Nagappan and Sriram Boopathi have been consistent. Chennai City are a solid team full of talented players, they just need a morale-boosting win to bring their campaign back on track.

3. Attack the best form of defence for Churchill Brothers

Churchill Brothers have been the most consistent side this season and it is mainly due to the brand of football Fernando Varela likes to play. The Red Machines take the attack to the opposition and have a great balance in their midfield and defence, which compliments their free-flowing attackers. With Clayvin Zuniga and Luka Majcen combining upfront, the former I-League champions have a very potent attack. Some of the young Indian talents have also complimented the foreigners really well.

After the draw against TRAU, Varela will have to make some necessary tweaks and believe in his players, who can turn up once again in a few days’ time against Aizawl FC. The Red Machines need to be consistent with their attacking approach and if they take most of their chances they will end up on the winning side more often.

2. Have Aizawl FC decoded the Law of success?

Ever since Yan Law’s arrival, there is a change in attitude at Aizawl FC. The Reds were tremendous in their win against Gokulam Kerala, but backed it up with a heartbreaking draw against Indian Arrows. Hence, they were eager to turn their season around with a win against NEROCA. It was another team effort from the former champions, as they showed that they may be a young side but aren’t pushovers.

Malsawmzuala has been the main man upfront and even against NEORCA he stepped up to score the winner. Apart from him, Alfred Jaryan has led this side brilliantly. Players like Laldinpuia, Ramhlunchhunga and Brandon Vanlalremdika have all played their roles and made this team a force to be reckoned with. Currently, at third with seven points and only four points behind league leaders Churchill with one game in hand, Aizawl have made their intent clear.

1. One step forward and two steps back for Real Kashmir & Gokulam Kerala

It has been a bumpy road for both Real Kashmir and Gokulam Kerala. Both teams have struggled for consistency so far in I-League 2020-21 and have also failed to string together positive results. The Malabarians have been highly inconsistent, as they have not managed to build on their big wins over RG Punjab and NEROCA. It is an area where head coach Vincenzo Annese will have to take extra care, especially because of the shorter format of the league this season.

Similarly, Real Kashmir are still unbeaten in the league, but they have not been at their best in any of the matches. The Snow Leopards have struggled to take their chances upfront and that has resulted in drab back-to-back draws against Sudeva and Gokulam. David Robertson will have to make the necessary tweaks, but the foreign forwards in Dipanda Dicka and Lukman Adefemi have not been at their best.

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