ISL 2020-21 mid-term grades: Kerala Blasters get an F, Hyderabad A+

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The Indian Super League (ISL) has completed 55 out of 110 scheduled league stage matches. At the half-way stage, it's no surprise to see free-flowing Mumbai City and not-so-free-flowing ATK Mohun Bagan leading the way. There have also been a few surprises, like the struggles of Kerala Blasters FC and Bengaluru FC, the latter sacking manager Carles Cuadrat after losing three straight games for the first time in the league. While Robbie Fowler's had a trial by fire with newcomers SC East Bengal, Odisha still haven't found their feet with Stuart Baxter. Meanwhile, the rise of Hyderabad and a rejuvenated Jamshedpur FC under Owen Coyle have been refreshing to watch.

After seven weeks of non-stop action, we take a breather to assess each team, look at what makes them tick (or doesn't), and grade them (A+ being highest, F being lowest).

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Mumbai City FC

Grade: A-

Biggest strength: Sensational forward movement, of players and ball

Biggest weakness: Occasionally prone to an arrogance that leans toward carelessness

Best player: Ahmed Jahouh. He is the puppeteer, and when he's in form, Mumbai blows away teams with absurd ease.

Watchability: 9/10 - never more than three touches away from a wonder goal or a defensive calamity. Gotta love Lobera ball.

What they must improve: They have a tendency of easing off once they take the lead. Remove that complacence, one that borders on arrogance, and it's hard to see how they can be stopped.

ATK Mohun Bagan

Grade: A-

Biggest strength: A patient, disciplined, well-drilled defensive unit

Biggest weakness: Can struggle to score more than once, which is a problem if the opposition scores twice

Best player: Roy Krishna. He scores, they win, everyone go home now.

Watchability: 10/10 if you are into defensive, grind-everyone-down masterclasses. For the rest of us, 2/10 -- Boring, predictable... did we say boring?

What they must improve: Maybe trying scoring more than twice in a match, occasionally? Just in case that particular skill set is required later on at the business end.

Hyderabad FC

Grade: A+

Biggest strength: Exciting forward play -- fast, unpredictable and effective

Biggest weakness: Can be a little lightweight in midfield, and therefore struggle to impose themselves when the going gets properly physical.

Best player: Aridane Santana. The spearhead, the main goalscorer, the one that holds the attacking unit together. Honourable mention for the sensational Liston Colaco.

Watchability: 8/10 -- what's not to like about fast, attacking wing play (from wide forwards and fullbacks both)?

What they must improve: Must learn how to kill off games when they take the lead. Too often, they take their foot off the pedal and let teams back in.

FC Goa

Grade: B-

Biggest strength: A never-give-in attitude that has seen them rescue more points from losing positions than anyone in the division.

Biggest weakness: For large phases of matches, including most of the ones they have won, their attacking play has been disjointed and incoherent.

Best player: Igor Angulo. He has 9 goals in 10 games and leads the golden boot race -- the man plays, the man scores. It's as simple as that.

Watchability: 6/10 -- Fun when they get into high gear, but it doesn't happen often enough.

What they must improve: Angulo takes most of the chances he gets with clinical precision, but they don't create anywhere near enough considering the talent in the squad.

Jamshedpur FC

Grade: A-

Biggest strength: Fast, unpredictable, relentlessly attacking.

Biggest weakness: An error-prone centre-back and goalkeeping core can make being relentlessly attacking a risky prospect.

Best player: Nerijus Valskis. A goalscoring centre-forward can transform a team, and last season's golden boot winner has certainly done that with Jamshedpur.

Watchability: 7/10 -- fun, with a little hint of chaos, and feature in matches that usually have plenty of goalmouth action at both ends.

What they must improve: Defensive solidity. Iron out the errors, and there's no reason they can't be challenging the big two at the very top.

Bengaluru FC

Grade: D+

Biggest strength: Even at their worst this season, they have been a major threat on set-pieces.

Biggest weakness: Even at their best this season, they have struggled to work openings in open play.

Best player: Suresh Singh Wangjam -- runs all day, tackles hard, and passes with his head up. His good work has often gotten buried in overall ineptitude this season, but he's definitely one for the future.

Watchability: 3/10 -- boring, staid, and entirely predictable.

What they must improve: Get Sunil Chhetri the ball more in areas of the pitch he can affect. For most of this season, he's been more auxiliary full-back than left forward.

NorthEast United FC

Grade: B+

Biggest strength: Defensively well organised and often hard to break down in open play.

Biggest weakness: Struggle to create chances in open play.

Best player: Khassi Camara -- a superb defensive screen who's spent the first half of the season putting out fires all over the NorthEast defensive third.

Watchability: 4/10 -- exciting on the counter, but lately reluctant to move forward as much.

What they must improve: They need to rediscover the energy levels and the organisational discipline that made them such a tough outfit to face in the initial stages of the competition.

Chennaiyin FC

Grade: C-

Biggest strength: Chance creation -- no one has created more.

Biggest weakness: Finishing those chances -- no has scored less. The disparity is truly ridiculous.

Best player: Rafael Crivellaro. He was the main fount of those multitude of chances, but he's now out injured. Chennaiyin will hope Manuel Lanzarote can step into those big shoes.

Watchability: 7/10 -- They are arguably the most entertaining team in the league, but the we-won't-score-goals vibe can throw off even the most ardent supporter.

What they must improve: The finishing. Almost everything else is at playoff-spot-taking levels.

SC East Bengal

Grade: D-

Biggest strength: Lately, an offensive unpredictability that makes them an interesting prospect.

Biggest weakness: The defence is still leaky, and finds it hard to handle teams that run at them with pace and intent.

Best player: Bright Enobakhare. He has almost single-handedly made East Bengal an exciting team -- this season of theirs can clearly be divided into two eras, before Bright and after Bright, and the two are poles apart.

Watchability: 2/10 before Bright, 7/10 after Bright -- you just want to see the man run at terrified defenders all day long.

What they must improve: Bright has brought the excitement, it's up to the rest to provide the solidity.

Kerala Blasters

Grade: F

Biggest strength: The attackers seem ever-willing to run and run, and they usually keep creating chances regardless of what's going on behind them.

Biggest weakness: A defence that has the structural integrity of a card house in a cyclone.

Best player: Albino Gomes. He's saved 3 out of 4 penalties faced -- which is an unreal ratio. He's not too shabby in open play either.

Watchability: 6/10 -- their defensive incompetence and constant need to push forward can make for games that are equal parts fun and cringe-worthy.

What they must improve: That defence. Quite elementary, really.

Odisha FC

Grade: F

Biggest strength: Well-drilled and usually hard to break down. Will always give you a fight.

Biggest weakness: A lightweight midfield that struggles to create chances in open play.

Best player: Diego Mauricio and Arshdeep Singh. Mauricio's goals and Arshdeep's saves have been responsible for all six of the points they have won.

Watchability: 4/10 -- can be dull and insipid if Mauricio is not in the mood.

What they must improve: They need to get the ball at the feet of Mauricio, Onwu, Jerry and Daniel a lot more, a lot faster.