Opposition View: Macclesfield vs Plymouth Argyle

Plymouth Argyle’s rearranged fixture with Macclesfield Town takes place tonight. To get an opposition view ahead of the encounter, we sent a few questions the way of Twitter’s Silkmen Army.

First of all, how did you get into supporting Macclesfield?

Macclesfield Town is in my blood. My father and his parents have lived in Macclesfield their whole lives. It’s an important part of who I am; I go with my dad, brothers and grandad and one day will take my children. I love it and it defines me.

Are there any Macclesfield players in particular we should be looking out for this weekend?

I’m always impressed with Corey O’Keeffe on loan from Birmingham. He lides past players in forward areas and is trusted to play wing-back when needed. But Danny Whitehead from Salford is a class act. He was crucial in our promotion season two years ago and is so assured on the ball. Doesn’t deserve to be in a relegation fight at all.

We have to talk about the club’s financial issues, which have hit the headlines in recent weeks. How are things looking on that front at the moment?

Terrible. We’ve been docked six points for not playing against Crewe and the late payment of players that has happened for the last 9 months now. Further sanctions may be coming too for the postponement of the game with you guys first time around. This will put off any future buyer of the club and puts our very existence in extreme doubt. It’s bleak.

What sort of tactical style do you expect to set up with on Saturday?

Mark Kennedy likes the high press system and to play out usually. We do chop and change the personnel regularly but we had three CB’s at the weekend with wing-backs. A couple of CM’s, two 10’s and Joe Ironside up front with his back to goal, holding it up and laying it off. Didn’t work too badly with us cruelly losing in the last five minutes vs Exeter after working back level from 2-0 down.

And are there any real weak links in the side you’re worried about?

We’re short for goals up front. Most games end with both teams scoring fewer than two goals. It’s tight, low risk, low scoring football. Firepower is short at present.

What first comes to mind when you think of Plymouth Argyle?

Probably deserve to be at a higher level. Strong fanbase. Decent ground (been once before). Miles away! 1-1 draw in 2012 with George Donnelly scoring an equaliser in the 94th minute on a Tuesday night at the Moss. I remember thinking you guys won’t be home before 3:00am at best and must have been pig-sick.

In an ideal world, which Argyle player, if any, would you like to sign?

Probably Danny Mayor. Seem to remember him being a crucial part of Bury’s successful promotion winning side of last year. Would do a great job in the blue and white of Macclesfield if he thought Devon was too far away from home.

What are your predictions for League Two in general this year?

Top end doesn’t really concern me too much but it looks like three from four at the top for automatic promotion. I think Crewe are a strong side so expect them to make it. Swindon have goals in Doyle so looks like one of yourselves and Exeter for the other spot. I’ll back you guys to edge it.

Bottom end I’m praying Stevenage’s horrific season continues. It’ll be one of them, Morecambe or ourselves for the trap door and it looks like Boro are currently the worst. No offence to them but long may that continue.

And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?

1-1

Opposition View: Colchester vs Plymouth Argyle

With Plymouth Argyle and Colchester set to do battle, we once again spoke to A View From S2 to get an opposition view on proceedings. The Colchester fansite also answered some questions for us before the meeting back in August.

First of all, how have things been at Colchester since we last spoke?

Generally, pretty positive. The highlight has certainly been the Carabao Cup run to the quarter finals, beating Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur before holding Manchester United until the 50th minute only to lose 3-0. In the league, our 16-match unbeaten run was a bit misleading as there were plenty of draws in the run. Overall, I think 6th is about right given our number of draws.

What did you make of Argyle’s 1-0 win in the reverse fixture?

That seemed a fair result, both teams had chances but Plymouth were more clinical.

Sitting in the play-offs at the moment, what would you say your ambitions are for the rest of the season?

If we didn’t make the play-offs the season would have to be classed as a failure. We haven’t had a better squad since we’ve been in League Two and it would be a huge missed opportunity.

Colchester seem to be draw specialists at the moment, with no side in the league having drawn more. Has that been frustrating to watch?

In a word, yes! One of our strengths has been how strong and settled our defence has been and one of weaknesses has been putting teams to the sword. So, its not much of a surprise to us! Especially when we go ahead and can’t kill teams off.

What did you make of Colchester’s dealings in the January transfer window, with Tafari Moore of course joining from Argyle?

Moore has looked good considering he hasn’t played much football. We were very light in the full back area so having him providing competition is very welcome. Securing Theo Robinson’s loan until summer is good bit of business, he has provided good competition for Luke Norris up front. Not selling any key players was the definite highlight.

Do you think there will be any difference in tactical style from Colchester at the weekend?

I wouldn’t have that thought so, John McGreal hasn’t really deviated from the tried and tested 4-2-3-1.

And are there any real weak links in the side you’re worried about?

Not being as clinical as possible in front of goal. So often we go 1-0 up only to get pegged back.

What have you made of Plymouth Argyle’s season so far?

Very strong in front of goal and can trouble any team in the division.

What are your predictions for the rest of the League Two season in general?

The race to avoid the one relegation place will be interesting and I reckon will go right to the wire. Promotion is anyone’s guess; there’s still so much football left, whoever who is in the play-offs and can put a winning run together in spring will fancy their chances.

And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?

We’ll be hurting from our 2-1 defeat to Cambridge United, but I don’t think we have enough to blow Plymouth out of the water. 1-1.

Telford and McFadzean back soon, Aimson edging closer

Plymouth Argyle manager Ryan Lowe has given updates to injuries within his squad, ahead of this Saturday’s face-off against promotion rivals Colchester United at the JobServe Community Stadium.

After Antoni Sarcevic and Josh Grant were absent from the squad that faced Newport County at Home Park last Saturday, Lowe told reporters that “we will know more in the next 24 hours.”

From injury news of one Argyle defender to another, Will Aimson is edging closer to a return, after being ruled out with a pelvic injury since the end of October. “He is close, but we are holding him back for obvious reasons. We don’t want to rush him.”

“A week after the Scunthorpe game, when he scored twice, he couldn’t get out of bed. That’s not fair on him. He can’t wait to get back playing for Argyle, he’s a good player at this level.” “Fadz (Callum McFadzean) and Telford are on their way back too.”

In other news, Argyle captain Gary Saywer will serve a three-match ban, after getting sent off for a tackle on Newport County player Julian Green. “I think Gaz said that was his first-ever straight red card. He has been sent-off for two yellows.”

“We spoke to good people at the top and we got some advice. The advice we got was that it did look a red card and when you look at it back there are certain elements in there where you go ‘Yeah, you are not getting away with it ’ “.

Telford and McFadzean close to return, Taylor and Aimson still a few weeks away

Plymouth Argyle manager Ryan Lowe has given an update on injuries to his squad ahead of this weekends match against Mansfield Town at Home Park.

“Tayls (Ryan Taylor) is doing some jogging today, and Dom Telford and McFadzean are training with John [Lucas]. Dom will start full training on Monday so he will be back available for Stevenage.”

“McFadzean will be probably 10 days away from him, Aimson is looking like the first week in February, and Tayls anytime in the next two weeks.”

In other injury news Ryan Lowe has confirmed that Josh Grant is ready to resume his loan spell at the club. Grant extended his loan with the club until the end of the season, and was ready to play against Carlisle but Chelsea’s medical staff didn’t want him to play do to an issue with his hip flexor.

“Josh is in today. (Thursday) He has trained the last couple of days with Chelsea so he’s fit and ready.”

Elsewhere, Lowe was adamant that current left wing-back George Cooper would be with Plymouth Argyle until at least the end of the season. Cooper, who has been instrumental to the Pilgrims success in recent weeks on his loan from League One club Peterborough United, was linked with a recall back to his parent club after numerous bids from Championship clubs for star playmaker Marcus Maddison.

“I’m the manager and I’m telling you he’s not going anywhere in January. He is not going back to Peterborough, he’s staying at Plymouth Argyle.”

“We are not buying him (in January) but it doesn’t mean that he can go back. It just means we are not buying him because we haven’t got the money to buy him, but we can buy him at the end of the season.”

The Argyle manager also admitted that he was not looking to do any more business in the January market, after the loan signings of Tyreeq Bakinson, Ryan Hardie and the renewal to the loan of Josh Grant.

This is partly down the the current form of youngster Luke Jephcott, who has scored four goals in two games after his recall from 7th tier Truro City.

“We don’’t need another one now when Luke comes in and scores. Did we think Luke would score four in two? Probably not, but did we know if a chance fell to him in the box would he take it? Yeah, 100 per cent because he’s a goalscorer.”

“So, no, we won’t be looking for another striker. We have got good strikers in the building now.”

“We have got (Ryan) Taylor and Dom (Telford) coming back from injury, we have got Joel Grant, Byron (Moore), Ryan Hardie and Luke Jephcott.”

“We have got no plans to make any signings before the end of the window, but it depends if one or two go out.”

Opposition View: Plymouth Argyle v Mansfield

It’s time for Plymouth Argyle to prepare for another League Two fixture. Ahead of Saturday’s fixture with Mansfield, we’ve spoken once more to Mansfield Matters, who can also be found on Twitter, to get an opposition view on the game.

First of all, how have things been at Mansfield since we last spoke?

It’s safe to say that Mansfield’s plans have failed spectacularly! No matter what we’ve tried, we just can’t find the spark to turn our form around – we’re now under no illusions about the type of battle we’re in, and it’s not one to bring League One adventures like this time last year. It’s difficult to watch and travelling to you guys won’t be for the faint hearted!

You have, of course, switched managers since last time. Where did John Dempster go wrong?

Dempster was onto a hiding from the start, sadly. His inexperience quickly became a stick to beat him with, as the same players who threw away promotion last season and got Flitcroft sacked failed to stand up and be counted for a man with fresh ideas.

He had to go for the sake of trying to freshen things up, but I’m sure he’ll look back on his time with one massive regret – leaving a job he’d done so well in [the academy] for the harsh world of football management. Where did it go wrong for Dempster? Some meeting room somewhere where he agreed to take the job! Harsh, but fair. The players who disrespected him, and performed so badly, should be ashamed.

And how is Argyle legend Graham Coughlan settling into the job?

The festive period hasn’t been kind to Graham who has a massive job on his hands. He comes across really well and I’ve been impressed with his attitude and approach which is essentially improve or else… so expect numerous changes in the summer! I was worried by his lack of experience in management and still am, but I’ve seen much more promise and believe that if we can scrape through and survive, next season will be far better.

You mentioned Danny Rose last time, but who else would you say has been key to Mansfield’s fortunes this season?

Shouldn’t that read misfortunes?! If it did, it’d be far easier to answer! It’s a tough one to answer really as every key player has massively underperformed and that’s why Coughlan has told players, included captain Pearce, they can seek new challenges. We’ve seen a young lad called James Clarke break through at right back. He initially joined from Burnley for the Under 23s, but injuries to White and Gordon gave him the chance and he’s really shone – he’s a really good prospect for the future and will get better with more game time.

What sort of tactical style do you expect to set up with on Saturday?

Coughlan will try and play one sided again to utilise our limited resource with a narrow midfield three, but ultimately after half an hour of trying to play on the floor – our players will panic, go against the tactics, drop in to a 4-4-2 and hoof it long.

And are there any real weak links in the side you’re worried about?

Anytime you get a set piece I’ll be worried, as we just can’t defend!

What have you made of Plymouth Argyle’s season so far?

Exactly where I thought you’d be, comfortable in the play-offs and will be pushing top three when it really matters

What are your predictions for the rest of the League Two season?

It’ll depend on the Macclesfield situation for life at the bottom, at the top I’m surprised Crewe are still in the mix but that’s what sticking with a manager and developing over time does for you! Plymouth will go up, we’ll stutter on and maybe climb, depending on our transfer activity in the last week of the window!

And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?

We’re in poor form, BUT it’s my birthday so you never know, we might sneak it 3-2?!

Opposition View: Plymouth Argyle v Swindon

Happy New Year! Argyle kick off the new decade with a match on 1st January against table-topping Swindon Town. Ahead of kick off, we once more spoke to Richard of the Loathed Strangers Podcast. He took part in our Opposition View ahead of the two sides’ clash in October, and we spoke again to get a perspective on the fixture from the other side of the Westcountry.

First of all, how have things been at Swindon since we last spoke?

Since the 1-1 draw with Argyle at the County Ground, Town have played 11 League Two fixtures and won nine of them which is pretty ruddy great, right?

We’ve been playing some really good stuff and Eoin Doyle’s goalscoring exploits have grabbed national attention and rightly so.

This isn’t a false position but Town have a tricky run of fixtures coming up.

High-flying in the league at the moment, do you think Swindon can go all the way and win promotion this year?

Yes, but it’s with a big fat ‘however’ attached. Swindon have a really tricky month ahead with games against Argyle (a), Bradford (h), Crewe (h), Newport (a), Port Vale (h), Colchester (a) and Exeter (h).

If Town negotiate their way through that then promotion is on. I will happily take 1st (obviously), 2nd, 3rd or Play-Off glory (preferably not the stress of the latter).

You mentioned Lloyd Isgrove last time, but who else would you say has been key to the strong first half of the season?

Isgrove has spent most of the period since we last talked out injured! He’s being reintroduced slowly but surely.

Eoin Doyle gets the plaudits; he’s scored in a club record equalling 11 consecutive games (15 goals in total) which has been incredible but the work of the players around him have made this possible.

Town get accusations of being a ‘one-man-team’, and I understand why people would think that, but that simply hasn’t been the case. Goalkeeper Stevi Benda has been great, the returning Paul Caddis and Rob Hunt with centre backs Baudry and Fryers have done the business but our midfield remains the key. The performances of Anthony Grant and Jordan Lyden have been essential in the recent winning streak.

Richie Wellens continues to go from strength to strength in his first full season as Swindon boss. What are your general thoughts on him?

I’ve been a fan since he arrived and it continues with more justification. He’s straight talking and practices what he preaches. He tries to set-up his side to play sensible yet attractive football and he’s turned us, at the time of writing, into contenders. This is all we really ask for beyond the obvious agenda of ‘GET US PROMOTED’.

I imagine there are similarities between Wellens and Ryan Lowe as they were fighting it out for the same players during the summer!

Wellens deserves success at Swindon and I really hope he gets it. Promotion in any way equates to success in my book.

What sort of tactical style do you expect to set up with on Saturday?

I think we will start:

Benda

Caddis-Grant-Zakuani-Hunt

Woolery-Lyden-Doughty-Isgrove

Yates-Doyle

That doesn’t look too bad to be fair but Grant being forced to play as a makeshift centre-back will make a lot of difference to how Town will try and dictate play the midfield. Grant is the engine room, puller of strings and all the other clichés that mean he’s good at what he does but I think it’ll be a case of ‘needs must’ (see below).

And are there any real weak links in the side you’re worried about?

BIG TIME. During the Port Vale game, we lost three players and we already have a centre-back problem as we are technically down to our 6th and 7th choice (which is perhaps unfair on Zakuani as he has loads of experience). As mentioned, I expect Anthony Grant to fill in alongside him.

Swindon Town CBs 2019-2020:

1st Choice: Dion Conroy © – Injured

2nd Choice: Mathieu Baudry – Injured

3rd Choice: Zeki Fryers – Injured (he is a LB who has covered brilliantly at CB)

4th Choice: Tom Broadbent – Injured

5th Choice: Dan Ballard – Injured in August and sent back to Arsenal

6th Choice: Gabriel Zakuani – FIT!

7th Choice: Taylor Curran – FIT! 3 injury-time appearances to his name

8th Choice: Joe Romanski – on loan at Melksham Town

Also out are Ellis Iandolo and Keshi Anderson. The latter scoring a hat-trick against Cambridge United recently. Also, the EFL wouldn’t let Town register Dion Donohue until the January transfer window opens.

What have you made of Plymouth Argyle’s season so far?

I predicted that Plymouth would win L2 this season and I still think they’re in for a more than realistic shot. Argyle are finding form at the right time, scraping victories late on is not a bad trait and if those games in hand go your way then you are right back in title contention.

What are your predictions for the rest of the League Two season?

Exeter have been remarkably consistent but I expect Plymouth and Bradford to be the two clubs to really push Swindon and the Grecians. Cheltenham are wobbling now. Colchester continue to lurk, as do Forest Green. The play-offs will be an absolute nightmare.

And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?

A dominant 3-1 victory for Plymouth Argyle; our centre-back pairing just isn’t strong enough.

Opposition View: Plymouth Argyle v Stevenage

Plymouth Argyle meet Stevenage for the first time this season today. Ahead of the game, we spoke to Stevenage fan Reece from Boro FC Central, who can be found on Twitter, to get some thoughts for this weekend’s Opposition View.

First of all, how did you get into supporting Stevenage?

It just came sort of naturally as a child. Don’t think anything can beat supporting your local team. Went to see the FA trophy finals and since then it’s become more obsessive and now I’m one of few doing every game home and away, much to my sins!

Are there any Stevenage players in particular we should be looking out for this weekend?

We are not a side frequently scoring goals at the minute, or all season, however our defensive record is up there with the best. Scott Cuthbert, Ben Nugent and Paul Digby al very experienced and have been fantastic this season which feels weird to say given the circumstances. If you pushed me for a player to be afraid of, I’d probably go for Dean Parrett at the minute.

Stevenage were many people’s outside pick for the play-offs in pre-season, but it seems to have been a struggle so far. What has gone wrong?

Hard to find on specific things that has led to our downfall this season. We improved our coaching team and our squad and we find ourselves rock bottom. I think maybe the run at the end of last season possibly covered up some underlying issues that weren’t addressed. Ilias Chair was superb for us last season and wasn’t adequately replaced.

Injuries also cost us big time; at one point we had a full XI of players injured. When you have a rut, it’s so difficult to get out and when it’s at the start of the season, it turns toxic very quickly. Mark Sampson when he was caretaker went a long way to fix that but it wasn’t quite enough to win us games. If you’re not winning games, you won’t get out the mess of the relegation battle.

Graham Westley has of course returned as manager. How do you think he’ll get on with the current group of players?

Westley isn’t stupid. He knows which buttons to press and when; the ship needed rocking somewhat. He’ll be demanding but if they work for him, then he’ll work for them. The squad isn’t an untalented squad, however the mentality needs fixing and as seen by Westley in every spell he’s had at the club, he creates a mentally strong dressing room that works for each other. There will be some clashes but it’s time to separate the men from the boys.

What sort of tactical style do you expect to set up with on Saturday?

My prediction is we will set up with a diamond in midfield with two up top who will most likely be Jason Cowley and Elliot List. Pressing is the order of the day; they won’t stop running until they’ve got the ball. The plan is quick transitions and then press high but keep shape. The midfield is where the game will be won or lost, don’t expect a clean game either.

And are there any real weak links in the side you’re worried about?

Goals. Our shot to goal ratio is 20:1. I think that stat tells the story of our season and at places like Plymouth or anywhere for that matter you can’t miss that many chances and expect to get wins.

What first comes to mind when you think of Plymouth Argyle?

Tough place to go. No one ever likes going to Plymouth. Fantastic fanbase. It’s hard not to think of the defensively solid team under Adams. What a team that was. Carey by some distance was best in the division. I think Ryan Lowe is trying to change the Plymouth culture which is equally terrifying given the players at your disposal. I’d be lying if the FA cup loss in 90 plus six at your place didn’t come to mind. That hurt. It was a long way home that night.

Which Argyle player, if any, would you like to sign?

The large majority of them if I’m being honest! I know that it was between us and Plymouth for the loan signing of George Cooper, a player I really like and the sort of player we lack badly at the minute. But for pure goals, I’d plump for Dom Telford.

Do you have any predictions for League Two in general this year?

Obviously the relegation picture is hard to call at the minute with Macclesfield’s troubles but I think Orient are in big trouble. I think Scunthorpe still have a say on the play-off picture and I do fancy Crewe to win the league. I’ve seen every team in the league bar Plymouth this season and Crewe were two times as good as anyone else this season.

And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?

Tough game to call really due to Westley just recently coming in. We probably should have beaten Forest Green on Boxing Day but got a little unlucky. Plymouth seem to have found their stride. I’d take a point and run at the minute and I think that’s how it will go. 1-1, Cooper and Parrett to score.

Callum McFadzean to return before the end of January

Plymouth Argyle manager Ryan Lowe has insisted that his team will not take their opponents lightly, despite facing bottom of the table Stevenage tomorrow.

“We won’t look further than Stevenage, Graham Westley will make them a different animal so we won’t take anything for granted.”

“Graham Westley is his own manager with his own style. I respect him for that, he’s been there and proven it. He’s different, and we have to expect the unexpected.”

“Stevenage will be resolute, they’ve got a few older pros in there, we will treat them with respect. I’m not thinking about Swindon. We always take it game by game. Our main focus is on Stevenage, no question.”

Lowe also spoke about the loans of Josh Grant and Zak Rudden which both end in January, but the Argyle manager was keen to keep close-lipped on the matter.

“We are on with things with both of them. We will keep that in house at the moment, we will give the news when we need to. We have been discussing with Rangers and with Chelsea for the past month. When there is news to be told, we will tell you.”

Before Sunday’s game against Stevenage, Lowe gave an update on injuries to the Argyle squad, including positive news about wing-back Callum McFadzean.

“Callum McFadzean has had some good news, we’ll have him back by the end of January and we thought we were going to lose him for at least three months. He will be grass-based within the next week and we should hopefully have him back for the last week in January.”

Meanwhile, Lowe also explained why Argyle striker Ryan Taylor wasn’t in the squad for the 0-1 win over Cheltenham on Boxing Day.

“Ryan is only on crutches as a precaution, he will be back with us next week. We caught it in time. If he had carried on, he would have been out for probably four to six weeks. He would have broken his metatarsal, but he has just got some sort of inflammation around it.”

Opposition View: Cheltenham v Plymouth Argyle

Plymouth Argyle’s next game will be against Cheltenham on Boxing Day. It seems a while since the Greens last took to the field in the league, but Lowe’s side will be looking to build on a 3-0 win against Morecambe at Home Park last time out. Ahead of the game, we again spoke to Cheltenham fan and journalist Mark Halliwell. Mark answered questions for our Opposition View last time around, and can be found on Twitter.

First of all, how have things been at Cheltenham since we last spoke?

Very good. We have managed to maintain our good away form and are unbeaten on the road since the end of August.

At home we were in great form but recently have been drawing a lot of games, five in the last six at home in all competitions.

There have also been a few injuries and a bit of illness around the squad which has seen us be without a few key players so we have done well to still be in and around it.

Last time we asked this, you mentioned Ryan Broom who was instrumental in September. Are there any other Cheltenham players we should be looking out for?

Broom is sure to be interesting sides in the transfer window and it remains to be seen if bids will come in.

Elsewhere, Alex Addai has now become our top scorer with seven goals, taking his chance with Luke Varney, Reuben Reid and Tahvon Campbell all out recently.

In midfield, Jake Doyle-Hayes has been in outstanding form while at the back Jacob Greaves has also been superb this season.

Cheltenham were 3rd coming into our last meeting, and are 4th now. Is promotion beginning to feel like a realistic goal?

Expectations among the fanbase are definitely rising.

A lot of the clubs around us have much bigger budgets than us so we are punching above our weight but we have shown we can compete with the best sides in this league.

It will be interesting to see what we do in January and who we can hang on to but there is no reason why we can’t stay in and around the top seven.

Before September’s meeting, Cheltenham had one of the best attacking records in the league. Now, you have the best defensive record. Has anything changed to cause that?

Our back three have been outstanding. Michael Duff says he has the four best centre backs in the division and he has a tough choice to leave one out.

Our skipper Ben Tozer has led by example and alongside him Charlie Raglan, Will Boyle and Greaves have fitted in alongside when called on.

Behind them, goalkeeper Scott Flinders has performed well when needed and in my view is one of the best in the league.

What sort of tactical style do you expect to set up with on Boxing Day?

It’s not a secret that we will be a 3-5-2. We usually set up that way and it would be a major shock if we did anything else.

And are there any real weak links in the side you’re worried about this time around?

I’d hope some of the injuries might clear up.

We’ve had no Varney, Chris Hussey and Campbell recently among others and it would be nice to have some of them back.

The injuries have tested the depth of the squad – and with lots of games coming thick and fast we need players back to increase our options.

What have you made of Plymouth Argyle’s season so far from an outsider’s perspective?

I think they are underachieving. I expected them to be right at the forefront of the promotion race.

I know they have had a new manager and a lot of changes but I expect them to come through in the New year to challenge for the top seven at least.

How do you see the rest of the League Two season panning out in general?

Swindon look strong and I think there will be a big battle to go up with them, if they keep Eoin Doyle, and for the play offs.

Teams like Argyle, Colchester, Newport and Scunthorpe are all below the top seven but I think they still have a say in the promotion fight along with those already in the mix.

And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?

Given our recent run, it will probably be a draw… but I’ve got to back us so I’ll go for a tight 2-1 win.

Preview: Macclesfield v Plymouth Argyle

Both Macclesfield and Plymouth come into Saturday’s League Two encounter at Moss Rose in very contrasting form. Whilst the Silkmen are winless in their last eight matches, drawing the last four, Ryan Lowe’s side have won five of their last seven, including last weekend’s comfortable 3-0 win over Morecambe.

Line-Up

  • Defender James Pearson is the only confirmed absentee for Macclesfield through injury.
  • Defender Theo Vassell as well as midfield pair Theo Archibald and Ben Stephens remain doubts after missing the trip to Walsall.
  • Midfielder Connor Kirby will be available again following suspension.

 

Predicted Line-Up (3-4-1-2)

Evans

Welch-Hayes, Kelleher, Cameron

Archibald, Kirby, Harris, O’Keeffe

Gnahoua

Osadebe, Ironside

 

Style of Play

Predominantly playing in a 3-4-1-2 formation, Daryl McMahon’s side look to vary their play with a mixture of short and long balls, unlike most sides who to tend to dominate in one particular element. Attacking pair Joe Ironside and Arthur Ghanoua compliment each other in that they are both completely different types of forwards.

Whilst Ironside is the shorter of the two at 5ft 9in, he’s much more effective in the air, winning duels and flicking the ball on. Ghanoua however, is much faster and likes to run with the ball at opponents before either firing a shot away or passing to a teammate.

The 27-year-old completes nearly two successful dribbles per game whilst maintaining a passing accuracy of 70%. The attacking duo have five goals and assists between them so far this season (4G, 1A). Whilst not overly impressive, Macclesfield have scored just 19 league goals this season, with only the bottom two and Walsall managing to score less.

The Silkmen heavily rely on the creativity that they have in midfield, particularly through duo Emmanuel Osadebe and Theo Archibald. The pair have scored four apiece as well as registering a further four assists between them.

With Osadebe playing through the middle and Archibald playing down the right wing, the two utilise their abundance of pace in order to create problems for their opponents. They often like to hit the ball out wide and work the ball into dangerous positions in the middle of the final third. Unlike a lot of sides in League Two, Macclesfield aren’t particularly crossing orientated, with their tally of 14 per-game ranking them amongst the lowest in the division.

Corey O’Keeffe and Connor Kirby add a bit of bite to the Silk midfield. Birmingham loanee O’Keefe is the more creative of the duo, looking to win the ball and run with it whilst Kirby often looks to make an immediate pass into space. O’Keeffe averages 3.58 successful dribbles per 90 minutes, the best at the club by some distance whilst the pair also average more than two tackles each.

They both tend to sit a little deeper in the midfield in order to provide cover whilst attacking midfielder Osadebe goes forward and shield the back three. This allows the defenders to push out wide a little more so that they are less vulnerable down the wings as well as in the centre of the park. Against a side like Argyle who are particularly threatening down the left side, this will be crucial.

Star Player

In a side struggling to score regular goals this season, attacking midfielder Emmanuel Osadebe looks to be the Silkmen’s most dangerous player. In a side with a little more quality, he’d probably have more to show for his efforts.

His tally of four goals already this season surpasses his career total of three goals in over 60 league appearances the 23-year-old had prior to his move from fellow League Two side Cambridge in the summer. Along with his two assists, his six goal contributions this season account for nearly a third of Macclesfield’s goals.

Despite standing at 6ft 2in, the former Tottenham man possesses a lot of pace which he uses to run at opponents and create problems in the final third. His physicality ensures that it’s difficult for defenders to tackle and wriggle him off the ball and if given time and space he will look to punish opposition sides. Despite naturally being  a winger, Osadebe has done well to adapt to a more central position with manager McMahon attempting to play a system that includes both him and Troy Archibald.

Weaknesses

Scoring goals is the obvious achilles heel for Macclesfield this season and despite the ongoing turmoil at the club, they’ve remained resolute. Despite being winless in eight matches, the Silkmen have conceded the same amount of goals as top of the table Swindon (22) whilst only losing one game more (six).

A goalscorer will undoubtedly be their top priority in January and on paper. Should they find someone who can contribute a few goals they look likely to survive for another season provided the players’ heads haven’t been turned during the ongoing financial crisis at the club.

Whilst remaining solid at defending from out wide, Macclesfield are very susceptible to conceding shots in the middle of the park with 71% of shots against them coming from the middle. This often happens when more possession orientated sides find the gaps between the midfield, and the defence and with a back three they are vulnerable.

Prediction (2-0)

Coming into the game, Argyle will be looking to avenge their midweek FA Cup exit at the hands of League One side Bristol Rovers in which they did not look out of place against their higher ranked opponents. With a lot more quality in their side and an in-form George Cooper alongside Danny Mayor, Ryan Lowe’s side will certainly fancy their chances against a side winless in eight.

The Silkmen are no pushovers despite appearances, however, and despite their off the pitch drama, they’ve actually conceded fewer goals than the Pilgrims. That being said, should Argyle score first, with McMahon’s side struggling for goals it could well kill the game off.