Both Plymouth Argyle and Shrewsbury will be looking to bounce back from disappointing results last weekend. Argyle remain undefeated after two games but will feel as though they should have beaten Wimbledon after their 4-4 draw whilst Shrewsbury are yet to win after a draw against Portsmouth and a 2-1 defeat to Northampton at home.
Midfielder Ollie Norburn looks set for a place on the bench against his former side. The 27-year-old has been missing in recent weeks due to a personal tragedy.
Huddersfield Town loanee Scott High will continue in the midfield. The 19-year-old has thoroughly impressed since joining the Shropshire club.
Right-back Ryan Sears and midfielder Dave Edwards remain injured and are unavailable for selection.
Predicted Line-Up (4-3-3)
Fossey, Pierre, Williams, Golbourne
Vela, High, Walker
Cummings, Clarke, Whalley
Style of Play
Despite deploying a highly successful 3-5-2 formation at former club Wrexham, manager Sam Ricketts has opted to switch to a more attacking minded 4-3-3 system this season. The 2019/20 campaign saw the Shrews score just 31 goals with only relegated Bolton (27) scoring fewer whilst conceding a respectful 42 goals in 35 games. The lack of an out-and-out goalscorer greatly affected their performances with the trio of Callum Lang, Jason Cummings and Daniel Udoh top scoring with just four goals apiece. Ricketts spent the summer bolstering his side’s attacking options with wingers Josh Daniels (Glenavon) and Shilow Tracey (Tottenham) as well as forward Rekiel Pyke (Rochdale) all arriving at New Meadow.
The Shrews like to play a possession based style of football, averaging 58.3% from their opening two matches, as opposed to 50% during last campaign. The switch in formation makes them less direct and able to build up play in a much more effective and timely manner. Central midfielder Josh Laurent will be a big miss after his summer move to Championship side Reading but the club will hope that 19-year-old Scott High will prove to be a worthy replacement. Winger Shaun Whalley is the primary target out wide, effective on the counter, looking to complete long dribbles down the wing in order to cut it back for the likes of Pyke and Cummings in the middle.
Whalley often found himself playing in the unfamiliar role of centre forward or playing in just behind the main striker last season. Himself and new signing Josh Daniels will be tasked with being the Shrews primary creative outlets. The 33-year-old possesses a blistering amount of pace which is likely to cause many problems for an Argyle defence that has been shipping goals at an alarming rate this season. The former Luton man managed a poor return last season with just six goal contributions (2G, 4A) but has an impressive 72 goals and assists in nearly 200 appearances since joining the club in 2015. A season of stability could prove to be the difference for the veteran.
The shift in formation will allow also Cummings to move out wide on the right. The 25-year-old found himself in and out of the Salop starting line-up last season, and despite making just 13 starts was joint top scorer with four goals. The former Hibernian man showed exactly what he was capable of coming off the bench to score a brace in a memorable comeback against Liverpool in the FA Cup last season and with a bit more freedom to be creative out wide could get the chance to replicate such form on a more regular basis.
The Shrewsbury midfield three consists of Josh Vela, Scott High and Brad Walker. Whilst Vela and Walker are more defensively minded, Huddersfield Town loanee High has more of a licence to roam forward and has already scored twice for the club in cup matches against Middlesbrough and Newcastle U21’s. With an eye for goal from range he is allowed to venture forward whilst the likes of Vela and Walker sit in behind and cover the gap to prevent potential counter attacks. At 6ft 1in, Walker is the defensive powerhouse sitting just in front of the back four. Whilst not necessarily the best of tacklers, his physicality and effectiveness in the air allows him to bully his opponents. Vela sits in the middle of the park, often making driving runs with the ball towards the final third but unlike High, he has to be more disciplined in his offensive and defensive responsibilities.
Star Player (Jason Cummings)
Whilst it’s unlikely that Shrewsbury fans have seen the best of Jason Cummings, Saturday’s opponents Plymouth Argyle have seen exactly what the Scotsman is capable of when he is in form. The 25-year-old scored an impressive brace, giving the Argyle defence a torrid afternoon during a 5-1 win for Peterborough in the 2018/19 season. Such form saw him score more than 20 goals in three consecutive seasons with Hibernian between 2014-2017 which earned him a move to Championship side Nottingham Forest.
The former Rangers loanee has looked much more at home playing in a wide role in Ricketts’ system this season rather than last, scoring against Middleborough and Newcastle U21 in the cup competitions whilst following that up with an assist against Northampton last weekend. Whilst not quick by any means, Cummings is a more technical player who likes to run with the ball and create chances with a very impressive 80% pass successful rate. Unlike fellow winger Shaun Whalley however, he can also be more selfish with the ball often shooting from range with just 16 of his 45 shots from last season finding the target.
Whilst Shrewsbury dominate possession in games, they have often struggled to convert this into meaningful chances and goals. This happened last season and as a result, Ricketts’ side only managed to score 31 goals. Whilst they have scored three goals on two occasions in the cup competitions against Middleborough and Newcastle U21’s respectively, they have only scored once in their opening two League One fixtures. Salop have recorded an impressive 58.3% average possession in these games, including almost 70% in their most recent league match against Northampton. Despite this however, they managed just five shots on target, the same as their opponents who spent significantly less time with the ball and lost the match 2-1. Whilst there’s no doubt that Shrewsbury have the players to dominate the possession, it seems that they’re lacking the creativity on the pitch to be effective with it.
Little can be expected other than a low scoring game where Shrewsbury are concerned with 14 of their last 15 League One away games producing fewer than three goals. Whilst Argyle aren’t struggling to score, they’re having a tough time keeping them out at the other end after conceding three goals in cup games against Norwich U21’s and Leyton Orient as well as four against Wimbledon last weekend. A more cautious approach should be expected from the Pilgrims who did excellently to defeat Blackpool 1-0 at Home Park on the opening day of the season. With neither side particularly secure it could prove to be a rather cagey affair.