Plymouth Argyle v Oldham Athletic Preview: progression post-Sheridan?

Shez managed both the Latics and Argyle – bbc.co.uk

A tale of two clubs who have been heavily influenced by John Sheridan. The former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder left Oldham Athletic more recently – three months ago – but remnants of his defensive ideology are more evident at Home Park, where he departed back in May 2015.

Oldham very quickly changed their recruitment policy and adopted a more exciting, expansive brand of football under Richie Wellens, who has led them to nine victories in 17 games.

By contrast, Plymouth Argyle are in a higher division this term, but their football suggests they have reverted to Shez-like stabilization. In theory, this would have made the team harder to beat – they got the result they wanted through defending deep, for example, at Anfield in the FA Cup last season.

The problem is that they are not just parking the bus for the glamourous encounters, they are doing it for games that they would hope to win. Results have improved a little since Aaron Taylor-Sinclair has come in at left-back and Toumani Diagouraga has added some presence and composure in central midfield.

However, their lack of natural pace and width in the transitional phases of play has always hindered them going forward. That is something that Derek Adams, who has seen his side score just 18 goals in 22 League One games with no player netting more than three, will look to address in January.

By contrast, Wellens can enjoy the festive mulled wine with a little more relaxation. His side have shipped just five in their last six in the league and showed their attacking capabilities when they thrashed Northampton. That 5-1 romp featured two goals from Jack Byrne including a wonderful curling opener, the type of goal that is hard to imagine any Latics player scoring in previous regimes.

Goalkeeper Johnny Placide made a clumsy error in that match – at a time when the consequences were less than severe – but he has been otherwise impressive in recent weeks. The Haitian is very much a front-foot goalkeeper in the Rene Higuita mould and perhaps, given developments at a certain Champions League club down the road, high-risk goalkeeping is the direction of the modern game.

Plymouth would settle for goalkeeping of any kind, having used seven different stoppers already this term. The latest is Kelle Roos, who opposed Argyle in the 2016 League Two play-off final and has shipped just two in his first two and made a key late save to preserve the points against Gillingham.

Oldham are a reformed side though and, looking full of fresh ideas under Wellens, they might enjoy a fruitful trip to the West Country.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 1-2