Winner: Ryan Taylor
Argyle have been mightily impressive since Taylor came back in to the side. In fact, since he made his first league start after months out with an ankle injury, Argyle have taken a total of 14 points from a maximum of 18 and climbed clear of the relegation zone as a result.
The difference with Taylor in the side is remarkable to see. A number of different players have tried to play the role this season unsuccessfully – either for lacking the technical capabilities or just not suiting the style that Adams likes, and it is nice to see Taylor back and firing on all cylinders. Another goal marks his third since his return as well(in a mere seven appearances in all competitions), showing he is just about as complete as you can get for a striker at this level. When Taylor plays, the chances of Argyle winning are much, much higher.
Loser: Yann Songo’o
Having had a good season so far, Yann Songo’o might be feeling a little hard done-by after being dropped this weekend. He is the sort of committed, passionate footballer that lots of Argyle fans like to see. He is the sort blood & thunder character who it is very hard to dislike.
But ultimately, he did not start the game against Walsall and unfortunately for him at least, Argyle looked no worse a side. In fact, the fact he wasn’t playing meant Fox could drop a little deeper and completely controlled the game, linking up excellently with Diagouraga and Sarcevic in a midfield trio. It was very fluid, attack-minded and ultimately not a style that plays to Songo’o’s strengths. With the upcoming visit of Bury, currently bottom of the league, this Saturday – it is hard to picture Songo’o getting a look-in again this weekend. This is not the only time Argyle have shown attacking impetus without Songo’o in midfield, dominating the home game against Northampton when he was played at centre-back.
Winner: Antoni Sarcevic
One man to benefit from Songo’o being dropped was that of Antoni Sarcevic. Not only is he quickly becoming one of the most underrated players at the club (you only need to see the replies to Argyle’s announcement of the team-sheet to see why), but he also plays a role which allows David Fox to play to his best.
With Sarcevic sat in front of Fox with Diagouraga, Argyle dominated the middle of the park for large parts of the game. Not only were the three midfielders very fluid on the ball, not just with each other but with the other players around them, but Sarcevic’s pressing frees up more space in behind for Fox to play in, meaning he has more time to dictate the tempo of the game. Fox was man of the match for me against Walsall, but was only able to do so thanks to the brave tactical inclusion of Sarcevic – who has done himself no harm looking towards Saturday’s game at home to Bury.
Loser: Aaron Taylor-Sinclair
If you had told me while I was traveling home from Bristol City in August that Aaron Taylor-Sinclair would turn into a serviceable player for us, I would have turned around and told you to be quiet. The fact is, he’s done even more than that. After Threlkeld injury recurrence and Adams finally giving up on Miller, ATS finally got his chance in the side and performed very well.
For a period of time, he was one of the team’s most consistent performers, but after a hamstring strain just over a week ago, he has been replaced by Oscar Threlkeld with Gary Sawyer moving back to his natural left back slot. When fit again, I would love to see ATS return as one of our two full-backs, but after Sawyer’s good performances and his goal against MK Dons, and Threlkeld going strength to strength post-injury, ATS may face another long wait before he gets another chance in the first-team. After all his hard-work, I just hope that isn’t the case.
Winner: Derek Adams
It is now coming up for a month since Argyle were bottom of the table, being cut adrift and many fans asking questions (rightfully or wrongfully) of the manager and his set-up. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have doubts over Adams being the right man to take the club forward, but never have I been happier to have those doubts dispelled in such a way. Not only are results picking up dramatically, but performances are too. Boosted by the return of Threlkeld and Taylor, and of course the signing of Diagouraga, Adams has done excellently to prove the critics wrong.
Adams suffered heavy criticism for substitutions in Argyle’s draws against Rotherham and Blackpool – in the first case for not bringing on a defensive sub and shutting up shop, and in the other for bringing on a defensive sub and shutting up shop. Against Walsall, he made no substitutions at all despite the tough run of fixtures and will have been delighted to have proven the Twitter tacticians and the online forum experts wrong again.
He is not without fault, but ought to take a large amount of credit for helping turn the fortunes at Home Park around. It seems the only way is up for Plymouth Argyle now, and I can’t wait to see how the team progresses in the rest of the season.