Plymouth Argyle’s promotion hopes took a hit in November as the team picked up 4 points from 12 in a tough run. Fleetwood battered Argyle’s poor defence, Peterborough threatened to do the same, while Pompey created little but still managed to score twice and take a point from Home Park.

However, there was positive news in the FA Cup as Luke Jephcott netted two goals and Mike Cooper kept two clean sheets as Argyle saw off two off the strongest possible sides at this stage by knocking out rotated Charlton and Lincoln sides.

All in all then, a positive month, but one that Argyle will need to build on in December to prevent the play-offs from slipping out of reach, while the club is still without an away win – or clean sheet – in the league.

Player of the Month: Joe Edwards (11.86)

Joe Edwards continued his strong end to October with a solid November to net the player of the month award. After struggling to break into the team following Byron Moore’s return from injury, it seemed as though Edwards was set for a long period on the bench twiddling his thumbs. Then, with George Cooper’s covid-enforced absence, he returned to the team at right wing-back with Moore switching to the left and it’s all clicked into place.

His surging runs infield from the wing have been a hallmark of his performances, starting with his goal against Swindon and ending with an outstanding display against Lincoln in which he was the beating heart of Argyle’s attacking play, receiving scores of 9 from every rater.

At the other end, Edwards has paired well with Will Aimson to make the right wing the more defensively solid flank of the defence. His work-rate has been particularly impressive, driving up the wing in possession and flying back down the other end when the ball is lost. A well earned award.

2. Luke Jephcott (10.38)

With five goals in the month, including two winners in the FA Cup, Luke Jephcott unsurprisingly takes second place. After injury interrupted Jepchott’s start to the season, appearing in only two of the first seven games (excluding the EFL Trophy, of course), the Welshman has finally reached the level of fitness required to make himself a mainstay in the team.

He has 8 goals from as many starts, a remarkable goal-scoring rate that he surely can’t keep up for the entire season, can he? It’s not just the rate of goals, it’s the technique involved: his awareness of space, timing of runs, understanding of his teammates play, and the calm, clinical nature with which he is finishing chances. If Argyle had another striker even half as composed as Jephcott, they might be in the top 4! Just think how many big chances have been missed by Telford, Nouble and Hardie!

Given Argyle seem to struggle unless they get the first goal, Jephcott’s early strikes against Swindon, Charlton and Lincoln all set them on the path to victory, making his goals all the more important.

If he keeps up his current form, he’s surely a favourite for player of the month in December.

3. Michael Cooper (10.12)

For a player with only two league clean sheets, Cooper is still ranking highly in our player rankings tracker (at the time of writing, he’s the third-highest ranked player and looks like he’s going to move back into second in a game or two). This is partly because there has been heavy rotation throughout the season, yet Cooper has been an ever-present along with Danny Mayor and Kelland Watts.

Cooper finished 4th in the September and October player of the month results, but finishes third here. He put in good performances against Portsmouth and Peterborough, regardless of results, but his two best performances were against Lincoln and Charlton. Cooper spilled a couple of shots against Lincoln, both of which could (should?) have ended up in the back of the net, but otherwise he was solid, and made two good saves to keep out Charlton in first round.

An awful performance against Fleetwood sandwiched these games, but comparatively Cooper was one of those who received a higher rating than some of the players around him.

4. Ryan Hardie (9.70)

Ryan Hardie had a stop-start month to match his stop-start season, but makes the player of the month top five for two reasons: his superb, double-assist performance against Swindon Town and his comparatively better performance against Fleetwood, as he was one of few to come out of that game with a respectable score. It was hardly the greatest month for Hardie, but surrounded by bad performances and consistent rotation, he makes the top five.

5. Panutche Camara (9.21)

Like Hardie, Camara did not have a great month (he actually received a score of 1 from one of the raters for his efforts against Fleetwood, when he was substituted after 11 minutes. His average rating for that game was less than 2, so not much better. That performance aside he had an above-average month, putting in hard-working performances against Swindon, Charlton and Lincoln. Given the nature of the game, it was odd that Camara didn’t start against Peterborough, regardless of his performance against Fleetwood on the weekend. That seemed like a game for him, but Lowe thought otherwise. Perhaps he wasn’t in the right mental state.

Previous winners:

September 2020 Player of the Month
  1. Danny Mayor (11.61)
  2. Will Aimson (10.31)
  3. Conor Grant (9.86)
October 2020 Player of the Month
  1. Kelland Watts (11.20)
  2. Danny Mayor (10.56)
  3. Joe Edwards (10.26)

How we calculate the score

Each player receives a match rating from 1-10 and one player from each match receives a man of the match bonus. Players who played fewer than 15 minutes of a match do not receive a match rating unless they made a significant impact. The players are scored by a variety of individuals who have witnessed every match this season.

The scores are aggregated and weighted against the number of appearances, before the man of the match bonus is added. In this way, we are ranking the impact of a player across the season. The more often they have played and the better they have performed, the more of an impact they have made on the team’s season, and therefore the higher they rank.

The formula also adds weight to higher scores. A player who gets 6s and 7s every week would average out at the same rating as a player who got a 9 one week and a 4 the next. Yet, that 9 rating implies a player made a match-winning impact and that should be rewarded. So, players who score higher ratings receive higher scores, even if their average rating is the same as a player who gets consistent middling-scores.

This way of ranking players enables us to be more impartial when speaking of the impact made by each player across a season, as it significantly reduces:

  • recency bias (players who hit a spell of form often have their season-wide impact overstated because of their recent performances).
  • statistical bias (players with lots of goals or assists relative to their position tend to be rated above those whose performance levels have been consistently superior but are not involved in goal-scoring, often because it is hard to visualise a player’s impact across a season without resorting to these stats. It explains why attackers, or defenders involved in a high-number of goals, predominantly receive most recognition throughout a season – we’re looking at you, Garth Crooks).
  • conformation bias (fans who favour some players tend to fixate on their positive performances while neglecting to factor in their bad performances when ranking them across a season).