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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Plymouth Argyle Preview

A lucky reprive then on Saturday by the lingering white stuff and subsequently saved from the two-man firing squad of McCormack and Bothryd both eager to draw first blood. Presumably the postponement was encouraged by both sides - one to allow time to lick our wounds and for the other a well earned break after their recent exhaustations.
However, one opponent out of action can always provide an opening for the others and so it proved as Doncaster took the chance to accelerate up the table with a 3-2 away win over Blackpool which gives the fizzies lowest scorers no less than 13 goals in the last 6 games. But after a home defeat by Norwich we now have the apparent advantage of a game in hand to ease the fact that the gap to safety has now risen to double figures eg, 10 points.
Yes, as if you haven't noticed, there's now two teams 10 points away in the safety zone of 20th and 21st positions. Both teams have a vastly superior goal difference but ignoring Barnsley ( currently on four straight defeats ), the weakest of the two appear to be Norwich who now have only 14 games left. Time for a bit of maths so checking their records, over the last 14 they managed only 12 points so lets add another 12 to their current 32 which would give them a total of 44 points for the season. So we have a grand total of 45 to aim for! Thats another 21 on top of what we have from the rapidly diminishing total of 15 games. We need, therefore, a nice simple 7 wins from 15; or 5 wins and 6 draws (with only 4 defeats!).
The question is - can a team with a massive minus 23 goal difference with only 15 games left and an effective 11 points away from safety turn it all around and save themselves? Miracles do happen and perhaps we should have another look at Doncaster. With only a meagre four wins and 13 goals from their first 24 games, since meeting a Doncaster mate of mine at Christmas who had assured me that they were just unlucky, they've managed to won 5 out of 6 scoring those 13 goals.
So what of our next opponents, Plymouth? It's not news really that Argyle are currently a team sinking faster than the Mary Rose. Only a single win in their last 13 fizzy games and toothless as well. Only Doncaster with their paltry, but rapidly rising, total of 24 goals have scored less that shot-shy Argyle with their 28. But earlier in the season the Pilgrims did manage to won 4 games away from home at Watford 2-1, Palarse 2-1, Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 and their last one being a 1-0 at Coventry in November.
Argyle are currently 17th on 35 points and if you need comparison with our fellow strugglers ( at the time anyway) in away games over the last 3 months, they have lost at both Forest and Doncaster and drawn with Southampton.

Current Form One place above the Addicks and 23rd in this little table with only one win in last 8 and with a further 6 winless matches in all competions before that but they are unbeaten in their last two away from home with a goalless draw at Ipswich followed by a 1-1 draw at Preston.

Who They Got? Another ex-Addick returns to the Valley keen to display the talents that got him nowhere at Charlton. Back in August 2008, ex-addicks, or rather Iain Dowie hopefull, Simon Walton signed for Plymouth Argyle - after brief stays at Ipswich QPR and Hull - in what was a club record fee, estimated to be around £750,000. Last December he was placed on the transfer list after being sent off in a league match against Barnsley. But after missing four games, and with manager Paul Sturrock questioning his attitude and temperament, things seem to have settled down and he's returned to the fold and started in the last three - he's Number 4.

DangerMan Number 11 is the loanee from Blackburn Paul Gallagher and he's currently the top goalscorer with 7 goals. But after a now 11 game non-scoring run he's been moved into midfield for the last couple of games and the Pilgrims now have a new little and large strike force of number 25 the diminutive 23 year old Jamie Mackie currently on 3 goals for the season and number 14, the tall one, Rory Fallon, on five but who hasn't scored in 7. In fact strike force is a bit of a misnomer as they only have 2 goals between in the last 20 games.

What's Their Secret? Well, they don't have one really except a seemingly determined leeming-like plunge to get into League One. And there's now only three teams, apparently, in the fail-to-win-club after going behind with, surprisingly, Cardiff joining strugglers Plymouth and the Addicks as completely hopeless after conceding. But whereas the Addicks have managed 4 draws after going behind (Burnley, Ipswich, QPR and Plymouth), the only point that the Pilgrims have managed to salvage after going behind is the one they got against us at Home Park in the last minute. But beware, because before their recent bad run they used to be a first half team and have still arrived at 45 minutes losing only 9 times whereas nobody looks forward to half-time and the quiet little chat with the boss so much as the Addicks with our 13 losing scorelines. However, during the second period there's nobody quite as bad at Plymouth, who have only "won" 4 times in the second 45.
History We're behind in this fixture 25-23 in League games and we haven't done so well as the Valley recently either. In the four games played at home in the last 20 years we haven't won a single one with 2 draws and 2 defeats, the last defeat being last year 1-2. Overall at home its 13-6 in the 30 games.
Team News A week off may well have done us good as we were awaiting the return of several key players, namely Mark Hudson at centre-back who we will definitely see alongside new man Darren Ward. Graeme Murty has also recovered after being subbed after 74 minutes at Bristol and we must be close to seeing our joker in the pack, ZiZi, back in action now that he's back to full training.
Saturday will also allow us to see new loanees Ward and Tresor Kandol - Wards number 12 and Kandol is 36.
As for the formation, its been the 1-2 cup defeat at Sheffield since we played a 4-5-1 with two strikers starting in the last three games. So as neither team are any good at recovering after giving away a goal you would expect a single goal to settle the affair. With this in mind I expect a 5 man midfield to ensure we don't give a silly goal away and a single striker - that of our Player of the Month Chris Dickson - as clearly our strikers can't score goals anyway so why waste time on two of them?
Elliot; Murty, Hudson, Ward, Basey; Sam, Bailey, Racon, Spring, Soares; Dickson
Subs; Randolph, Youga, Holland, Kandol, Burton
Summary So after a fixture where we were planning to play the best form team in the fizzies, we now face the second worse ( after ourselves, of course). Although the Pilgrims are the only team on the planet with fewer wins than the Addicks over the last two and a half months and with only one goal scored in their last six fizzy games. And with it being a game between two sides that cannot recover from going a goal down the first goal is absolutely vital. Our sequence of 3 consecutive games leading at half-time of course, still stands and remember that the last time that happened we managed to win the fourth 1-0 ( at Doncaster).
And to sum up - if we can't beat this lot, at this particular time, we may as well give up now.


Ken Jennings said...

I think it will 'happen' tomorrow. A couple or three goals to the good. I think it will happen basically because it 'has' to happen. Otherwise, what's the point? will we get in yet another loaner to give a press interview about how 'we can fight this thing'?

Besides, the 3 current 'CAFC Picks' leaders all have it down for a win!

So - it could 'happen'.

nelson said...

Perhaps Parky should read out Steve Browns views on League One before kick off - it might inspire them to the win that, surprisingly, everyone seems to expect today. For me anything's possible as the only inspiring we seem to do these days is to the other teams benefit as they all seem to raise their game when the play us.