Another month down and so far, so good.

Plymouth Argyle sit just a point outside the play offs having picked up 10 points from 18 during the month, finishing with an impressive home victory over a strong Doncaster Rovers. However, October was the month in which covid hit the squad, with Will Aimson, Scott Wootton, Niall Canavan, Conor Grant and George Cooper all missing games due to the need to self-isolate.

With that in mind, Argyle’s month looks all the more impressive, and a number of players stood out for their consistent performances.

Player of the Month: Kelland Watts (11.20)

Kell Watts becomes the second player to win our player of the month award this season after a strong September. He was awarded the man of the match award by at least one of our raters in four of the six league games, recording an average rating of less than 7 only once during that time.

His last minute winner against Northampton delivered all three points and secure Argyle’s first back-to-back wins since their return to League One. Meanwhile, in the absence of Niall Canavan and Scott Wootton, the two players to have started in the middle of the back three this season, he stood up and put in a decent performance against table-topping Lincoln City.

Watts had a slow start in September and did not even rank in the top ten players despite starting every game, but he has continued to improve week-on-week since the start of the season. Now hitting his stride on the left of the back-three, he has done impressively well bringing the ball forward but has been equally strong in defence, showing an understanding of defending space that belies his lack of experience.

The main area Watts needs to improve is his strength and aerial presence. While he suits a back-three, he is in a delicate position in which he is not a left-back, may not yet be good enough in centre-back as a back-four. As a player, he’ll need to ensure that he is focusing on those areas so he does not limit his options in future seasons.

2. Danny Mayor (10.56)

Player of the month for August, Mayor takes a (not-so-close) second this month.

Like Watts, Mayor was an example of consistent performance levels throughout the month. Though Argyle returned a strong points total, it was by no means a month full of free-flowing, high-quality performances. Instead, there were lots of players who missed games – either being rotated or missing out through enforced absence. Thus, those who performed consistently rather than blowing hot and cold ranked ranked higher.

He was consistently above average during the month without reaching his best levels, though he came close to that against Swindon, including that beautiful shoulder drop against Doncaster to create the opening goal:

That was his best performance, an in an important game against a tough side who look to be in the play-off race this season. He also created the best chance against Lincoln on a night when Argyle were very blunt in attack. All in all, a strong start to 2020/21 for Argyle’s highest paid player.

3. Joe Edwards (10.26)

Edwards started the season strongly, with a goal against QPR in the League Cup and an assist(-ish) for Conor Grant away to Wimbledon, but since Byron Moore’s return from injury he was relegated to the bench, only returning away to Wigan as a result of George Cooper’s need to self-isolate.

Edwards was fine that day as Argyle lacked creativity, but put in an outstanding performance against Doncaster that may well cement his place back in the team. He netted the all-important second goal as Rovers were threatening to turn the game on its head and put in an excellent defensive effort while offering a threat on the ball when Argyle had the chance to counter attack.

It was that performance more than any other that shot Edwards up into third for the month, despite starting only the final two games of the month.

4. Michael Cooper (10.24)

For Cooper, see the entries for Watts and Mayor. Cooper was yet another who had a solid but unspectacular month, keeping one clean sheet from the six. That will be disappointing for Cooper, both because of the quality of opposition and the relative control Argyle exhibited throughout a couple of games, notably Northampton and Wigan, only for brief periods of pressure to translate into goals.

In a normal month, Cooper probably wouldn’t make the top five based on his performances, but because of the disruption to team selection he was able to take advantage of playing every minute and avoiding any bad performances.

5. Will Aimson (9.24)

Yep. Same again really. Aimson started five of the six and put in no bad performances, but equally no strong ones. His best performance was Doncaster, but overall he was quite average and made the top five for the same reason as Cooper. Like Edwards, Aimson started the season very well with dominant performances against QPR and Blackpool, but dropped off and had an awful game against Wimbledon before losing his place because of a positive covid test.

Previous winners:

September 2020 Player of the Month
  1. Danny Mayor (11.61)
  2. Will Aimson (10.31)
  3. Conor Grant (9.86)

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).