We aren’t quite at the half-way mark of the season just yet, but with Argyle’s last game before Christmas having being played, Kevin McCallister appearing pretty much everywhere and some festive spare time on my hands that should almost certainly be spent on wrapping presents, I thought it was about time to look back on some of the targets I had for existing Argyle players at the start of the season.

For anyone that wants to read the full post, you can find it here, but in summary, the targets are summarised below. As you’ll see, these relate to four players that were with the club during our League Two campaign. They were:

  • Michael Cooper: Keep 12 clean sheets in League One.
  • Will Aimson: Make 40 appearances in all competitions.
  • Danny Mayor: Score 10 in all competitions.
  • Luke Jephcott: End the season as Argyle’s top scorer.

So, how are the boys getting on…

Michael Cooper – Keep 12 clean sheets in League One.

On the face of it, Michael Cooper is perhaps a little behind where I’d have liked him to have been at this stage of the season. At the time of writing, he has three clean sheets from 18 games, whilst perhaps quite interestingly, Alex Palmer, Argyle’s number one last term, tops the League One clean sheet table with ten in the same amount of matches.

With that being said, I think Cooper can be fairly happy with his performances to date. Argyle have just ended a six-game losing streak in the league, of which none of the defensive outfield players in covered themselves in much glory. In fact, there hasn’t been a single centre back throughout the campaign to date that hasn’t contributed to Argyle’s long list of individual errors leading to goals. To say Cooper has lacked protection, would be fair.

And yet despite this, I think many could argue that Cooper has taken to professional football pretty well. By no means has it been perfect, and yes, he has at times been at fault from some of the goals Argyle have conceded, but on the whole, he has looked fairly solid and impressed. His strongest skill emerging in the first half of the season appears to be his distribution, and with the growing trend of ball-playing ‘sweeper-keepers’ in English football ever-growing, this should hold Argyle in good stead. He’s quick to pass the ball, not afraid to play a direct, albeit riskier pass into midfield and has launched Argyle attacks from his 18-yard box.

What’s more, when it comes to hitting that target of 12 clean sheets, it’s well within reach. With another 28 games to play, I’m fairly confident he’ll be able to keep a further nine, in what would mark an impressive debut season for the young goalkeeper.

Will Aimson – Make 40 appearances in all competitions.

Prior to this season, Will Aimson had had a pretty torrid time as a Plymouth Argyle player. Whilst he’d looked like a fairly solid centre back when he had played, his time at the club had largely been marred by injury. In fact, by the time he did start the season this year, such was the delay as a result of his injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic, that Will Aimson had missed almost a year of football.

This season however, it’s a different story entirely, with Aimson having already played 19 times for the club, and avoiding a spell on the physio’s table. What’s more, despite the somewhat questionable run of the recent form mentioned above, Aimson arguably fared the best. He wasn’t without his faults, but there’s a general consensus amongst the Argyle faithful that he’s been Argyle’s most solid centre back in this year’s campaign. If his form continues, and his injuries remain firmly in the past, I highly suspect Aimson will break past 40 appearances and with some ease too.

Danny Mayor – Score 10 goals in all competitions.

Oh Danny boy… In short, Danny Mayor hasn’t scored since I wrote the original piece. Yes, he’s only scored one goal this season, and that was on the opening day in the EFL Cup. Not great Danny…

Now, I don’t want to incite the Green Army here. Danny Mayor is an extremely popular player and with good reason. He’s clearly a very gifted individual. As I said last time, I believe him to be Argyle’s most talented player and that for me is still the case. However, I can’t help but feel there’s something lacking from his game, and that’s largely his direct influence on the scoreline. It’s been suggested that he’s our best-paid player and to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure he has the influence on games one might expect to go with that tag, especially given his relatively attacking position on the field.

Personally, I don’t think we’ll see this target met this season and whilst that’s not to say Danny Mayor can’t have a good season, or indeed an influential role in a positive one for Argyle, it would be in no doubt a disappointment. The Danny Mayor debate will rage on I’m sure, but in the second half of the season he has to be a better decision-maker for me. We’ve seen glimpses of it so far, and the danger he can cause when he gets his head up and decides to pass quickly rather than run down a dead-end of three defenders, but he doesn’t do it enough. Add this to his game, and not only could he prove me wrong and hit 10 goals, he could single-handedly move Argyle up positions in the table. Dare I say it, he’s arguably the only player in the squad with this potential bar Luke Jephcott. Talking of which…

Luke Jephcott – End the season as Argyle’s top scorer.

Wow. What a year this lad has had. Incredible. In terms of the target, I might as well rule it over already, although in truth, I could have done that weeks ago. The young striker has 10 goals to his name, whilst his closest competitors Conor Grant and Joe Edwards have three each. Fellow strike partner from last season, and for parts this term too, Ryan Hardie has two and looks unlikely to catch up, especially given Jephcott’s goal conversion rate of 42%.

At the start of the season, I added to Jephcott’s piece that with a bit of luck he could give Wales manager Ryan Giggs something to think about ahead of the delayed EURO 2020 competition in June and on his current trajectory, I think he’s on course to do just that. Ryan Giggs has shown a tendency to give young players a chance, and with Jephcott hunting down a 20 goal season, which is well within reach I might add, there’s an outside chance he might get the call up in my opinion.

When Argyle last sent a player to a major tournament, Rory Fallon played for the undefeated All Whites, in a World Cup campaign that saw New Zealand draw 1- 1 with the then defending champions Italy. This summer, who should Wales be facing in their final group game. Well of course, it’s the Italians and if you ask me, it’s written in the stars. Go on Jephers!