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ISL Monthly Review: December Edition

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What a month of football this has been! The Indian Super League delivered 31 exciting clashes in December, which was arguably the best month of the league since its inception in terms of pure quality. Only three matches ended without goals, and even they kept us on the edge of our seats. Here, we will take a look back at the best moments and players from this month of the ISL. Note that the players in our Team of the Month must have appeared in at least half of their team’s matches in December.

Team of the Month

GK: Rehenesh TP (JFC) – 7.1

Jamshedpur FC’s trusty goalkeeper, Rehenesh TP gets the spot in between the sticks of our Team of the Month. He made six starts in December, conceding only four goals and keeping three clean sheets. The 27-year-old shot-stopper averaged 3.1 saves per match on average this month, as he denied the likes of ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC time and again.

RCB: Mourtada Fall (MCFC) – 7.5

Mumbai City’s Mourtada Fall has been the highest-rated defender this month and just falls short to a teammate for the Player of the Month title. He has helped his side keep three clean sheets in their five matches, letting only two goals in. The Senegalese centre-back has averaged 5 clearances and 2.2 interceptions per match this month, while also winning 13/17 aerial duels. Further, he has also completed nearly 85% of his passes, so he has been solid both in and out of possession.

CB: Stephen Eze (JFC) – 7.4

Rehenesh TP has a fellow Jamshedpur FC man in front to keep him company, as Stephen Eze takes the spot at the very centre of our defence. The Nigerian centre-back also started all of six of Jamshedpur’s matches in December, and like his goalkeeper, kept three clean sheets. To add to that, Eze also went and netted two goals, while making 6 clearances and 2.8 interceptions per game on average this month.

LCB: Benjamin Lambot (NEU) – 7.4

The third centre-back in our Team of the Month is NorthEast United’s Benjamin Lambot, who has helped his side get two clean sheets in their five matches, while also scoring once. The Belgian defender has made 5 clearances and 1.6 interceptions per match on average and has won 69.2% of his aerial duels.

RWB: Asish Rai (HFC) – 6.4

On the very right of our defence, Asish Rai finds a spot in our Team of the Month. While his side, Hyderabad FC, didn’t have the best of months as they won only one of their six matches and lost three on the spin to end their unbeaten start to the season, Rai certainly impressed as he became a key fixture in their back-four. The Nizams’ defence failed to keep a single clean sheet this month, but the 21-year-old full-back certainly did his best as he averaged 2.5 interceptions and 2 tackles per match.

LWB: Ashique Kuruniyan (BFC) – 7

Ashique Kuruniyan also finds a spot in our first Team of the Month, but sadly, this might be the last too owing to his facial injuries which required surgery, and that might have ended his season prematurely. In his four appearances prior to that, the pacy defender managed to win 6.5 ground duels, deliver 4.75 crosses, attempt 3.75 dribbles and make 2 tackles as he marauded up and down the left flank.

RCM: Hugo Boumous (MCFC) – 7.7 *Player of the Month*

Hugo Boumous made only three appearances in Mumbai City’s five matches in December as he missed the last two due to an injury, but he excelled enough to take our Player of the Month title. The Frenchman accumulated 4 assists, averaged 3 key passes and 64 touches per match, completed 5/6 dribbles and completed 84.4% of his passes in a brilliant month of footballing action.

LCM: Ahmed Jahouh (MCFC) – 7.3

Mumbai City have a midfield monopoly in our Team of the Month, and the man to orchestrate it all is Ahmed Jahouh. The Moroccan international was utterly dominant in each of his five appearances, as his side won all but one of them and he was at the heart of it all with an average of 95 touches, 65.6 successful passes, 21.2 long balls and 3 tackles per game. Just outstanding.

RW: Rahim Ali (CFC) – 7.2 *Young Player of the Month*

Rahim Ali has done a stellar job to take our Young Player of the Month title, as he keeps the likes of Adam le Fondre and Igor Angulo out of our Team of the Month. While the two veteran strikers have outscored him, Rahim Ali just about edges them in our ratings as he netted twice in 239 minutes of action for Chennaiyin FC. In that time, he went on 11 dribbles, attempted 8 shots, got 115 touches and participated in 45 duels as well.

ST: Roy Krishna (ATKMB) – 7.1

By his extremely lofty standards, Roy Krishna has had an average December as he only scored in half of the six matches that he has played, but even that is enough for him to book a spot in our Team of the Month. One thing that has been constant this month is Krishna’s commitment, as he has worked extremely hard in every match to carry out his coach’s pressing-based plans. The fact that he has netted all but one of ATK Mohun Bagan’s goals this month tells you all you need to know about his importance to the side and his quality in general.

LW: Jorge Ortiz (FCG) – 7.3

Jorge Ortiz has also had some very good times in December, as he has played a part in all six of FC Goa’s matches and netted two of his side’s three non-Angulo goals. The Spanish forward’s stats are been pretty good for a man who made two appearances off the bench this month, as he has averaged 57.8 touches, 3 attempted dribbles, 2/4 shots on target, 2 key passes and 2.8 free-kicks won per match.

Subs:

GK: Arshdeep Singh (OFC) – 6.8 CB: Peter Hartley (JFC) – 7.2 CM: Matti Steinmann (SCEB) – 7 CM: Jeakson Thounaojam (KBFC) – 7 CM: Rowllin Borges (MCFC) – 6.9 CAM: Rafael Crivelllaro (CFC) – 7 LW: Facundo Pereyra (KBFC) – 7 RW/ST: Adam le Fondre (MCFC) – 6.9 ST: Igor Angulo (FCG) – 7

Manager of the Month:

Sergio Lobera (MCFC)

Sergio Lobera switched allegiances from FC Goa to Mumbai City in 2020 (or more accurately, he was thrown out of FC Goa) and he brought a fair few of his Gaurs with him. So, many were expecting Mumbai City to be FC Goa v2 this season – a team with a very strong squad but consistently disappointing results. Things started that way too, as the Islanders lost their season-opener against NorthEast United. But then, it all took a dramatic u-turn, as they have been unbeaten since and have won all but one of their December clashes. It’s hard to see them stopping too, so the Lob-era has truly arrived in Mumbai.

Goal of the Month:

Vignesh Dakshinamurth (MCFC) vs HFC

We have seen some simply spectacular strikes this month, but there’s absolutely no debate necessary for Goal of the Month. Vignesh Dakshinamurthy’s outrageous strike against Hyderabad FC has it all – a brilliant buildup involving Ahmed Jahouh’s long ball and Bipin Singh’s deft touch, and above all, an insane finish.
Honourable Mentions: Rafael Crivellaro (CFC) vs FCG David Williams (ATKMB) vs BFC

Assist of the Month:

Liston Colaco (2) (HFC) vs SCEB

December produced a number of good assists, but the pick of the bunch certainly was this marauding dribble from Liston Colaco, who just danced past the defenders as if they were mannequins and set it up on a plate for Halicharan Narzary with an incisive pass.
Honourable Mentions: V.P. Suhair (NEU) vs SCEB Rafael Crivellaro (CFC) vs FCG Hugo Boumous (MCFC) vs SCEB

Save of the Month:

Vishal Kaith (CFC) vs BFC

Had this gone in, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy’s Goal of the Month might have faced a little more competition, but instead, Dimas Delgado has to take solace in the fact that his effort drew the Save of the Month. Vishal Kaith did a stellar job to get across in time and reach the ball with his outstretched hand to just tip it away from the corner of his net.
Honourable Mention: Debjit Majumdar (SCEB) vs KBFC Rehenesh TP (GFC) vs MCFC

Miss of the Month:

Lallianzuala Chhangte (CFC) vs FCG

Lallianzula Chhangte’s missing skills this season have been so good that he could have won Miss of the Month with two separate efforts. We’re going with this one, however, as he has denied a begging open goal by skying his shot way over the crossbar. A little more power and he might as well have launched the ball into a low Earth Orbit.
Honourable Mentions: Lallianzuala Chhangte (CFC) vs FCG Rafael Crivellaro (CFC) vs FCG Rowllin Borges (MCFC) vs JFC
Stats courtesy Sofascore.com