Both Grimsby and Plymouth Argyle come into Saturday’s fixture at Home Park looking to return to winning ways. Town are winless in four matches, failing to score in three of those, whilst Argyle suffered a 4-0 hammering at the hands of Devon rivals Exeter, which ended their six-match unbeaten run.

Line-Up: 4-3-3

Midfielder and Sunderland loanee Ethan Robson looks set to return to the Mariners side. The 23-year-old missed fixtures against Leyton Orient and Cambridge before returning for their 2-1 defeat against Leicester City U21’s in the EFL Trophy.

Defender Luke Hendrie remains out injured with a hamstring injury. The 25-year-old also missed the beginning of the season through injury before making 15 consecutive league appearances for Michael Jolley’s side.

Predicted Line-Up (4-3-3)

McKeown

Hewitt, Waterfall, Ohman, Gibson

Whitehouse, Cook, Hessenthaler

Green, Hanson, Ogbu

Style of play: direct

Predominantly playing in an attacking 4-3-3 style, Michael Jolley’s Grimsby make the majority of their attacking plays through the middle of the park. Forward James Hanson often plays the biggest role in this, having scored and assisted nine (5G,4A) of Town’s 20 goals so far this season.

This makes the former Bradford man the most prolific in both categories at the club. Despite such statistics ranking him amongst the top players in the division, Hanson is more of a hold-up player rather than a creator by trade. Though clearly their biggest attacking threat, nine other players have also chipped in with goals this season, so the veteran is by no means alone with their goalscoring burden.

Grimsby are very good in the air, boasting a 55.6% aerial win rate, a statistic that only Scunthorpe can better in League Two this season. This will prove to be a big positive for them heading into the fixture against a Plymouth Argyle side that have been notoriously poor at defending set-pieces this season. Again, Jolley’s side dominate the league rankings scoring nearly half of their goals via this method (eight).

When not attempting to play through the middle, they like to play long balls down the flanks for the likes of Matt Green and Moses Ogbu to chase onto. They average 88 per-game, so it comes as no surprise that they also rank amongst the lowest in the division in terms of average possession (48%). These long balls often hand possession back to their opponents rather cheaply and against more possession minded teams they can often be punished.

Ogbu is the more technically gifted of the pair, looking to run at opposition players and take them on, completing 2.53 per-90 minutes, while Matt Green – predominantly a forward by trade – accumulates just 0.71. The pair have recorded a combined seven goals and assists this season (4G, 3A).

Star player: James Hanson

Hanson has been instrumental to Grimsby’s form this season and suits their system down to a tee. The former Bradford man is enjoying his most prolific spell since leaving the club in 2017 and has registered an impressive five goals and four assists which mean he has contributed to nearly half of their goals in League Two this season.

At 6ft 3in he possesses both physical and aerial traits which bode well in a system that predominantly looks to hit long balls and score from set-pieces. His balance of both goals and assists show that he is an all-round player and in a similar mould to the player that Argyle have in Ryan Taylor.

Weaknesses

Grimsby have been overly reliant on scoring from set pieces this season which has left them struggling for goals against more physical sides. From their 15 League Two fixtures this season, they have failed to score in six of them. From open play, Jolley’s side has scored just seven goals, a record that only Walsall equal. In comparison, Ryan Lowe’s side has 16 whilst still managing a respectable five from set-pieces and are therefore better all-round.

Like Argyle, Grimsby’s achilles heel this season has been defending set-pieces, with seven of 20 goals being conceding as a result of this. Only Scunthorpe (11) have fared worse. With players like George Cooper and Danny Mayor in the side, they are likely to be punished with the right ball played into the box.

Prediction: Plymouth Argyle 2-1 Grimsby

With Grimsby’s attacking prowess from set-pieces and Argyle incompetence of defending them this season, it’s difficult to see Argyle keeping a clean sheet, even if their opponents have only scored once in their last four league games. Should Argyle continue to play their new, territorial style, it could be interesting to see how Grimsby stand up to the threat of many balls being flung into their box by the in-form George Cooper. If Grimsby fail to deal with that and struggle to convert their own set-pieces, then Ryan Lowe’s side should get back to winning ways.


 

From Lowe-ball to long-ball: territory, not possession, is king

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