Coventry City come into Saturday’s League One clash at Home Park with faint hopes of pushing closer to the Play-Offs, sitting eight points behind sixth-placed Peterborough. Plymouth however, arrive fresh from impressive back-to-back wins over Oxford and Southend. Victory potentially ensures that they climb out of the relegation zone for the first time since the two sides last met in August.
Wolves loanee Bright Enobakhare will look to keep his place in the Coventry side. The 20-year-old attacker made his City debut in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with struggling AFC Wimbledon.
Meanwhile, midfielder and captain Michael Doyle should come back in to regain his place in centre-midfield. The former Portsmouth man was an unused substitute against Wimbledon but Mark Robin’s young defence lacks experience without him.
Left-back Brandon Mason will continue in the team. The 21-year-old has been deputising in the absence of first choice Junior Brown.
Predicted Line-Up (4-2-3-1)
Mason, Hyam, Willis, Sterling
Enobakhare, Chaplin, Thomas,
Style of Play
Coventry play a very possession-based style of football in which they tend to keep the ball on the floor rather than looking to hit the wing with a switch of play and counter-attack against teams in that fashion. City prefer to play the ball out from the back, building up in midfield and overloading the middle of the park in order to dominate and create chances. They lack height going forward with primary attacking threats Conor Chaplin and Jordy Hiwula standing at just 5ft 8in and 5ft 10in respectively. For what they lack in height however, they certainly make up for in terms of their blistering speed which allows them to play on the shoulder of defenders to get into one-on-one positions.
Defensively Coventry are ranked eighth in League One with an impressive 32 goals conceded over their 27 fixtures to date. Chelsea loanee Dujon Sterling has particularly impressed with his high work rate, also chipping in with three assists. Their back four and two defensive midfielders stay rigidly in position when defending so as not to be stretched by opponents, allowing them to defend in numbers. Like last weekend’s opponents, Southend, City are also very keen on ball recovery in their defensive third, and with their formation they are able to get bodies around the ball quickly and effectively to win possession and get themselves out of danger. This can rush opposition players into taking shots or playing passes that increases the likelihood of forcing an error.
Their defensive strength has also proven fortunate as City are one of the lowest scorers in the division, with just 30 goals. The side struggle to get their midfielders involved in goalmouth action further up the pitch. Between them, central attackers Hiwula, Chaplin, Jonson Clarke-Harris and Adamou Bakayoko have scored 63% (19) of the total. Winger Luke Thomas and midfielder Tom Bayliss have also contributed two goals each but Mark Robins’ side will surely be looking to address this problem in the January transfer window. In terms of creating chances though, City have a much better spread amongst their side with six players in the side registering two of more assists this season with Sterling, Bayliss, Chaplin and Thomas all currently level on three apiece.
Operating primarily as a number 10 behind Jordy Hiwula for much of the season, Conor Chaplin has impressed since his move from League One rivals Portsmouth in the summer. The 21-year-old is still developing but has been an ever-present in the starting line-up since breaking into the side last September. The youngster has posted a very respectable nine goals and assists from his 21 appearances so far this season, including two goals in his last three games after netting against Wycombe and Scunthorpe.
He very much played the role of pantomime villain in previous encounters between Pompey and Argyle and will very much be expected to do so once again after notching two goals in five games against Adams’ side. The summer signing has proven himself to be versatile in a number of positions, also playing as a primary striker and also on the wings when needed due to his speed and direct style of play.
Experience is perhaps one of the factors to hinder Coventry this season with the squad lacking leadership when 37-year-old captain Michael Doyle is not on the pitch. Summer signing Abu Ogogo, who was brought in to provide more experience, has struggled to make an impact at the Ricoh Arena. Since playing the full part of the opening four games of the season, the former Shrewsbury man has made just two starts and played 169 minutes of football, largely featuring as an unused substitute. The average age of the squad for the season is just 23.9, ranking them one of the lowest in the division.
In a recent game against Scunthorpe, City looked vulnerable against a Scunthorpe side who deployed their own tactics against them. The Iron were very much in Coventry faces from the first whistle and quick to get the ball back when they lost it, often forcing errors. They opted to attack down the middle rather than out wide which effectively won them the game, scoring two goals in such fashion.
Following seven games without a win, Coventry have now lost just once in their previous five league games whilst Argyle come into the encounter unbeaten in three. Both will be full of confidence and Derek Adams will feel that his side were unfortunate in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. The introduction of Ruben Lameiras in recent weeks has proven pivotal and in red hot form he will feel as though he has a point to prove against his former club. Yet, Coventry have proved difficult to break down and Argyle have struggled with chance creation in recent weeks. With Coventry neither scoring nor conceding many goals this season it would be unsurprising to see this as a low scoring encounter. I believe that the score will be a 1-1 draw.