The Falling Fortunes of Chennaiyin FC

The Falling Fortunes of Chennaiyin FC

In a span of 2 seasons, Chennaiyin went from being the champions of ISL to finishing at the bottom of the table. Looking at the league table, you can see that there are some obvious things pointing out as to what went wrong.



In the league, they went from scoring 24 goals in 18 games to 16 goals in the next seasons but what’s even more remarkable last season were their defensive woes. In ISL4, they conceded just 19 goals in the league. The next season they had conceded 32. That’s 13 goals worse from the previous season.

We at SportsKPI, believe in looking at things analytically. So, we set out to see what went so wrong for Chennaiyin in ISL5. Looking at the plots above, it seems that shot quality faced by Chennaiyin got better in ISL5 as more shots were closer to the goal. To further investigate, we started with their Goalkeeper, Karanjit Singh, and there was something noticeably different between the two seasons Chennaiyin had.

Looking at the shots faced in the 2 seasons, it feels like there is a steep increase in the quality of shots that Karanjit was up against. Shots faced in ISL4 were decent and spread around quite well around the whole goalmouth. Shots faced in ISL5 seem a little too well placed. Further analysis suggested what the reason behind it might be.
For starters, in ISL4, Karanjit had, on an average for each shot, a defensive cover of 1.4 defenders between the ball and goal. This was 6th in the league out of 10 teams and can be considered slightly below average. Despite this below average cover, Karanjit was able to concede 22 goals out of an expected 21 goals. Fairly in line with goals he was expected to concede. This highlights how Karanjit, even with this below average support was able to keep the number of goals conceded in check.

ISL5 was a different story altogether. Karanjit only had a defensive cover of 1.08 defending players between the ball and goal which is in all fairness, quite poor. 14 of the goals conceded by Chennaiyin were 1 vs 1
situations. It shows how the attackers had lesser defensive pressure to deal with while taking the shots consequently explaining the reasons behind the good placement of shots in ISL5.

All of those 14 shots looked something like shown above. No matter how good a keeper is, he is bound to find it difficult to save shots where there is no pressure on the attacker taking the shot. The defenders have been too lose with their marking and weren’t quite able to track the runs of attackers. Karanjit seems to be a victim of poor defense and more than the keeper, it seems the defensive organization and defenders of Chennaiyin FC were at fault for the poor showing in ISL 2018-19.

Looking at the observations that data has provided us with, investing in better Centre Backs and working on having a better defensive discipline might be the way to improve for Chennaiyin FC in the coming seasons.