East Bengal, Odisha start 2021 looking for first wins (Match Preview 45)

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Vasco (Goa), Jan 2 (IANS) East Bengal face Odisha FC in a bottom-of-the-table clash in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Sunday. They are the only two teams that are yet to register a win this season and will be hoping to start the new year with three points.

Both East Bengal and Odisha have struggled for consistency at both ends of the pitch. They have scored just five goals — joint-lowest this season so far — while their defence lines have also been vulnerable.

East Bengal have conceded 13 goals, the most by any team, this year. Odisha, meanwhile, have shipped 11, joint second-highest with Kerala Blasters, in addition to being the only side to not register a clean sheet this season.

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East Bengal have shown signs of reversing their dismal run having drawn three out of their previous four matches. All four of games have also been tight affairs with Robbie Fowler’s team often falling on the wrong side of bad decisions.

“They’ve had a tough time, probably similar to us. They’ve played good at times and faltered at times, giving goals away in silly areas or because of individual areas. We’re probably very similar in our aspect, so it has the makings of a good game,” Fowler said.

“And we’ve seen many times in the league, any team can beat anyone. And it’s up to both clubs now to get the three points. It’s a case of we want it more. I know Odisha wants it (too) but whoever goes out and puts the best performance, will certainly take it.”

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Fowler will have to ensure his side stay alert throughout the game, with his team guilty of conceding after the break. East Bengal have conceded 10 goals in the second half, most by a team while four of Odisha’s five goals have come in the second half.

“I see a lot of similarities in ourselves. We have a very young team who need time on the field. They have a very new team who need time on the field. Their games have been close games, they have played well in periods of games, same as we have. They will be looking for that consistency, the same as we are,” said Odisha coach Baxter, echoing Fowler’s views.

–IANS

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