Argyle v Derby – previewBy: Jim | February 6th, 2009
Following two creditable away points, at Ipswich and PNE, expectation levels have risen to, oh at least cautious optimism. Described – as so many of our games now are – as a ‘must win’, tomorrow’s clash at Home Park with the Rams will undoubtedly have a nervous edge to it. Derby are, perhaps a little surprisingly, down among the relegation candidates and the new regime under Nigel Clough has yet to bed in properly. But Pilgrims beware: Derby are a team with quality players, if not yet a quality team; and they will have been hugely buoyed from their come-from-behind Cup win over the annoying Billy Davies and his upwardly mobile Forest side. In Kris Commons, Rob Hulse and Paul Green they have players capable of winning a match on their own and with Nathan Ellington, Luke Varney and new capture Chris Porter plenty of options in attack. It’s at the back where they look vulnerable – former Argyle booboy Paul Connolly was always good for one moment of madness per game during his time here; Jordan Stewart similarly so at Watford and I’ve never been totally convinced by Lewin Nyatanga or Dean Leacock, either.
Argyle are injury-ravaged, with Gray and McNamee definitely out, Seip, Cathcart, Barker and Gallagher doubtful. The new formation, with Mackie and Fallon up top, appears to be working though and it’s hard to see Sturrock changing that too much. Walton appears to be being given an extended run in the side, which is no bad thing: but he needs to deliver on his undoubted potential an above all, CALM DOWN DEAR. Some are seeing the partnering of two ‘combative’ midfielders in Walton and Duguid as an essentially negative approach – for me, it’s more Luggy returning to his roots and placing the emphasis for creativity on the wide men. During his previous spell here, he invariably played Frio with Adams or Hodges: and only those who never saw him play could describe Frio as a playmaker. Walton can certainly do the box-to-box thing (though he is overdue a goal). Meanwhile, at this level, width is increasingly dependent on fullbacks getting forward to support wide midfield players – and there’s no doubt that (eg) Clark at RB and Sawyer at left back would be better options than Doumbe/Barker.
Even with everybody fit, I can see Timar retaining his place and being detailed to look after Hulse. Other key battles will be Green and Walton in the midfield and the extent to which our fullbacks, whoever they may be, being able to cope with Commons and Teale. Above all, we need to take the game to Derby early on: if we give them time and space they will kill us. All this then points to a squad something like:
There remains some residual doubt about the game being on – apparently Derby have had to alter their plans to fly down and come by coach. Some forecasts also have heavy snow in the Plymouth area overnight. The groundstaff are apparently confident of being able to cope. Let’s see.