Chennaiyin FC – ISL 6 Analytical Season Preview

Chennaiyin FC – ISL 6 Analytical Season Preview

Chennaiyin FC had a very disappointing season last term as they finished bottom of the points table. The two-time champions, under Englishman John Gregory will however be looking for a turnaround this season and will kick-start their campaign on the 23rd at the Fatorda Stadium against FC Goa.


  • Retained their key Indian players while releasing all except one (Eli Sabia) of their foreign players from last season
  • A good mixture of experienced International players and youthful Indian players
  • The arrival of Goian from Mumbai and the return of Deepak Tangri and Rahim Ali from Indian Arrows are a big boost



  • Chennaiyin is likely to play either in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2 formation
  • With the likes of Edwin Vanspaul and Dragos Firtulescu been signed this season, can expect Chennaiyin FC to pose significant threat using crosses from the wide areas

Expected lineup (4-2-3-1): Vishal Kaith; Vanspaul- Goian- Eli Sabia- Jerry; Dhanpal Ganesh- Anirudh Thapa; Thoi Singh- Crivellaro- Firtulescu; Schembri


1. Dhanpal Ganesh – DMF (#17)

  • The local lad was instrumental in midfield when Chennaiyin won the league 2 seasons back
  • Missed the whole of last season and that affected Chennaiyin’s performances badly
  • Mostly acts as a screen to the defense and is key to breaking up opposition attacks
  • As shown below, his key strength is his physicality which he puts to good use in 1v1 duels
  • An average of 12.35 successful challenges per 90 mins was the best in the league during the 2017/18 season
  • With Goian joining Sabia in the backline and Dhanpal just in front of them, finding penetration through Chennaiyin’s central zones would become hard for any side.

Image: Dhanpal Ganesh Skill-Set (ISL 2017-18)

2. Lucian Goian – CB (#17)

  • The Romanian defender returns for his 4th season in the ISL after Chennaiyin signed him from Mumbai City FC
  • The 36-year old is one of the toughest central defenders in the ISL, with a total of 787 succesful defensive actions from 50 appearances across 3 seasons (ie, an average of 74 defensive actions per game)
  • Chennaiyin replaced the much younger Mailson Alves with Goian, but their decision is vindicated by data that prove that Goian has been the better defender
  • As shown below, Goian trumped both Mailson and Eli Sabia for tackles, interceptions, clearances as well as challenges
  • At the same time, Goian has a lesser fouls rate than the former Chennaiyin FC pairing
  • Although Goian’s distribution and passing accuracy (76.03%) is not that great, with Sabia beside him (passing accuracy- 86.45%) it shouldn’t be much of an issue

Image: Comparison of skill-sets of Goian with Mailson Alves & Eli Sabia (ISL 2018-19 season)


1. Lallianzuala Chhangte – LW (#7)

  • Although Thoi Singh might be preferred in the early couple of games, Chennaiyin’s new #7 can soon be expected to make his mark and be a regular starter on the flanks.
  • In comparison to the Indian wingers that Chennaiyin had last season, Chhangte was much more involved in the final 3rd
  • He scored 3 goals in the 2017/18 season and improved his tally to 5 goals in the 2018/19 season.
  • He attempted 6 dribbles per game and although he succeeded with only 5 of those, he often posed significant threat and the numbers are only likely to improve.
  • As shown below,  he had a much superior shot accuracy (51.72%) than the likes of Vineeth and Narzary and if he can further improve his goal conversion rate (13.04% in 2017/18 and 16.13% in 2018/19) he can bea real asset for the Marina Machans.

Image: Comparing  skill-sets of Chhangte with the Chennaiyin wingers from ISL 2018-19


  • Playoff Possibility: High
  • Chennaiyin have done sensible business this time and having retained John Gregory and the core players, there is a real possibility that they will qualify for the playoffs with a Top3 finish in the group stages