September: it hasn’t been the finest of months for the past two years of Plymouth Argyle’s recent history and 2019 didn’t really stop the emerging pattern. Up until the win at Mansfield, Argyle hadn’t registered a win in the month in 2017, 2018 or 2019. Whilst the victory is a welcome sigh of relief, it doesn’t wholly redeem what was a pretty bad month, at least in terms of results. However, it wouldn’t be entirely accurate to state that our winner was simply the best of a bad bunch. Oldham, Crawley and Cheltenham were three games in which we should have got an overall total of far more than three points before we even mention the game against Bristol Rovers in the EFL Trophy.

Player of the Month: Danny Mayor (11.80)

It should come as no surprise to regular readers that our most fancied player for October is inarguably Danny Mayor. You don’t often hear of players having a ‘wand of a right foot’, that turn of phrase being more generally reserved for their left-footed counterparts, but Mayor’s might just be good enough to force a change to that unofficial style guide. In spite of Argyle having a poorer September than August and Mayor not registering any goals, his performances took a definite upturn.

His performances were on a consistently high level from a creative standpoint. His dribbling abilities (specifically his tendency to cut inside onto his lethal right foot) is simply terrifying for League Two defenders and is consistent in gaining us a crucial 5-10 yards in territory up the pitch. His passing ability is also nothing short of fantastic for this level and in truth his creative spark has been let down by his teammates. He should have registered a hat-trick of assists against Cheltenham but for some of our profligate attackers. More encouragingly, you still sense the best is yet to come.

2. Alex Palmer (10.31)

You can tell from the big gap in scoring that this is very much a ‘best of the rest’ sort of month, the gap between 1st and 2nd being a lot higher than that between 2nd and 5th. Palmer’s performances did take a downturn from his August displays but let’s not let that detract from the fact that it was still a solid enough month for him. His August form was sublime so a drop of some sort is probably to be expected. He had some very capable displays in the month (Port Vale and Mansfield being the main two) but most importantly, his rating is enhanced by the fact that he hasn’t had any stinkers.

In addition, he played every game in the month so he will inevitably do well in our ratings system which prioritises a consistently decent level over a high volume of performance above one game wonders(see below). There’s areas to improve on, sure but this is another decent month for the loanee keeper especially with regard to his shot-stopping.

3. Joe Edwards (10.09)

Like Palmer, nobody can really say Edwards’ September was as good as his August but at the same time, nobody can really say he has had a bad month. From a solely defensive perspective, he’s probably one of the best players in the league. His awareness and reading of the game are excellent attributes and irrespective of their other merits, Edwards is certainly the best shield the back three have out of all the options for the DM role. He had a couple of poor games this month (namely Oldham and Cheltenham) that prevent his rating from being even higher.

He also showed that he offered some attacking qualities in the month. He capped off a fine performance at Crawley with two goals and he could arguably have got an assist at Mansfield with a fine cross from the right wing that George Cooper couldn’t convert. It will be interesting to see whether his future lies more on the wing or deep in midfield, through October and beyond.

4. Will Aimson (9.92)

Aimson missed a couple of games this month whilst recovering from injury, which, given the weighting of our system, does go to show just how good he has been in the games in which he’s played. Our defence still isn’t perfect after his introduction, far from it. What he has done though is provided a much needed rock in the heart of our central defensive line-up. Nearly half of our goals conceded this season have come from headers so Aimson’s success in aerial duels is more than welcome and will hopefully go a long way towards reducing that figure.

His calmness, ability to read the game in front of him and his composed decision making are equally very welcome and it’s safe to say, whilst our other four defenders battle it out for two spots, Aimson will be a mainstay in the team. He’s come close to getting a couple of goals at the other end too, especially on his league debut at Crawley.

5. Antoni Sarcevic (9.53)

Making up our top five is Antoni Sarcevic, who would have probably had a higher score had he not missed the Oldham match due to suspension. There’s been some criticism of Sarcevic in these quarters relating to his continued utilisation in the attacking right-central midfield role where his ability to pass the ball is called a little into question. And yes, not all of his games this month have been good. However it’s important to remember that even if you do agree with this line of thought, that doesn’t mean Sarcevic’s individual performances have been bad either. Far from it, at Crawley and Mansfield in particular he offered a lot in the centre of midfield.

His consistent energy and pressing are to be valued and (especially in those two games) he has shown that even though his passing range is a little more limited, he has shown himself apt at knowing his limits and executing the simple passes well. This is before we mention his good defensive work which itself is commendable. There’s room for improvement but the midfielder showed more good than bad this month on balance.

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.

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 fixate on their positive performances while neglecting to factor in their bad performances when ranking them across a season).