Both Burton and Plymouth Argyle come into Saturday’s fixture at Home Park looking to bounce back from defeat. Albion have lost their last three games in all competitions by a 4-2 scoreline, whilst Argyle were defeated 1-0 by an impressive Hull side.
Youngsters Ciaran Gilligan and Owen Gallagher will make way for Ryan Edwards and Steven Lawless following the 4-2 midweek defeat to Cambridge in the EFL Trophy
Summer signing and winger Steven Lawless will return for the Brewers after being placed in self isolation.
Defender Michael Bostwick, forward Luke Varney and veteran Neal Eardley all missed the midweek defeat and are all 50/50 ahead of the trip to Devon.
Predicted Line-Up (4-3-3)
Eardley, Brayford, Wallace, Daniel
Edwards, Quinn, Powell
Lawless, Hemmings, Akins
Style of Play
Playing in an attacking 4-3-3 formation, Jake Buxton’s side possess one of the more experienced squads in League One. Like Argyle, games involving Burton this season haven’t been lacking goals. Their eight matches in all competitions have seen a whopping 36 goals, with the Brewers scoring 14 and conceding 22.
The departure of attacking midfielder Scott Fraser will sting greatly for Burton this season, especially considering the lack of recruitment in that position over the summer. Grimsby’s Charles Verman has been brought in but has only started one of their opening four games. Buxton’s side sacrifice some pace out wide for players with physicality who won’t be muscled off the ball easily. The likes of Lucas Akins and Steven Lawless are often effective in this sense coming up against more modern less physical full-backs. Akins, unlike Lawless effectively doubles up as a second forward at times and has proven to be an effective goalscorer. Four goals already this season has set him up nicely to beat last season’s tally of 10 goals with relative ease. Without the likes of Fraser and Boyce, his contribution this season will be vital.
29-year-old Kane Hemmings replaces last season’s top scorer, Liam Boyce. The former Dundee man plays as a target man, scoring 10 times in 25 times for the aforementioned Scottish side last season. Like wingers, Akins and Lawless, Hemmings is more physical than he is pacey, looking to get in the faces of opposition defenders and cause problems from set pieces. Like former Argyle forward Ryan Taylor, the 6ft 1in man is at the forefront of attacking plays, often being utilised for his valuable holding up skills. In a side that lacks pace, this allows Burton to be effective playing the long ball, progressing up the pitch rapidly with Hemmings able to then look out wide for options and then get himself into the penalty area looking for an incoming cross.
Midfielder Ryan Edwards is the engine, playing as a box-to-box midfielder. The Australian contributed to 10 goals last season (5G, 5A) whilst forward Lucas Akins was the only outfield player to feature in more minutes. The 26-year-old plays either side of Joe Powell and Stephen Quinn in their three man midfield. Quinn operates as a tough-tackling defensive midfielder who sits just in front of the back four. The former Hull man links the defence and the attack but can often be reckless. This led to the 34-year-old receiving 10 yellow cards and one red last season. Only fellow midfielder John-Joe O’Toole (11Y, 2R) showed poorer discipline in the Brewers squad. Powell is the more attack minded of the three, being best utilised just behind the front three. He likes to dribble with the ball, transitioning Burton from defence to attack, whilst he is also useful taking set pieces.
Star Player (Lucas Akins)
The 31-year-old has enjoyed the most prolific spell of his career at the Pirelli Stadium, registering 85 goal contributions (60G, 25A) since joining from Stevenage in 2014. Incredibly, the former Huddersfield man missed just eight minutes in League One last season, all of which came on the opening day of the season, coming off as a 82nd minute substitute against Ipswich. Only departed midfielder Scott Fraser (16) contributed to more goals than the veteran (13).
Whilst possessing some pace, Akins is primarily a physical player. Unlike a lot of wingers, he isn’t shrugged off the ball or dispossessed as often. This makes him an effective player not only from set pieces due to his height (6ft 1in), but also when Burton are attempting to slow down play to see out games. Primarily a winger, he can play anywhere across the front line, playing on either wing, attacking midfield and as a forward which allows him to fill in where needed.
The Brewers struggled to put a consistent results together last season and have been slow out of the starting blocks this campaign. However, they only lost consecutive games once all season which proved pivotal to their near Play-Off miss. Burton have already equalled this feat in consecutive 4-2 defeats against Swindon and Portsmouth in League One. The likes of Scott Fraser and Liam Boyce were massive departures during the summer. Should they fail to find consistency in the way they did last season, they could find themselves at the wrong side of the table.
As previously mentioned, Burton’s leaky defence has been a concern. The Staffordshire side have conceded 22 goals in eight games. They have conceded four in each of their last three matches against Swindon, Portsmouth and Cambridge respectively. Whilst there has been no trouble scoring, it’s clear that their gung-ho approach isn’t working. With a lot of quality in League One this season, it could be a long campaign for the Brewers if they fail to address their frailties.
Prediction (3-1 Argyle)
Despite an improved performance last week, Ryan Lowe’s side failed to score for the first time this season against Hull. They will come up against a Burton side that have similarly shipped goals at poor rate this campaign and with forward Ryan Hardie needing to break his goalscoring duck, the Pilgrims will need to be at the top of their game. Buxton’s side possess quality however and the likes of Akins will be keen to punish an Argyle defence that is still unsure of its best combination. All the signs point to a high scoring game and with injuries also a factor, I can see Argyle just about edging this one.