Philosophy meets pragmatism at Meadow Lane as the most cultured manager in League Two plays host to arguably its most tactically astute. It’s a heady mix well worth tuning into because the potential exists for these two to serve up a thrilling encounter, so let's kick-off our involvement with a bet on over 3.5 goals at 5/2.
Ricardo Moniz and Derek Adams are both relatively new to English football but it has taken neither man too long to impose his own identity, although it’s fair to say Adams is making a better impression in terms of results. His ability to find a weakness and exploit it, especially away from home, might well be the decisive factor here.
However, lumping on Plymouth at 9/5 probably isn’t the way to go. The early shot data would suggest the price is out of line and the Pilgrims should be clear favourites but there’s plenty of variance in the numbers where Notts are concerned. When Moniz gets his team selection right, the Midlanders can be a match for anybody.
And therein lies the crux of this contest because whereas Adams already knows Notts will line-up 4-3-3, allowing him to set out a particular game plan on a macro level, he cannot possibly have any idea which 11 players will get the nod, which prevents him from dealing in specifics. Moniz rotates on a game-by-game basis and has used 27 different players already this term.
The suspicion is that Argyle can steal a march by exposing early gaps with their chosen formation but the Magpies are capable of matching the current leaders blow for blow once they get into their rhythm. As such, the 12/5 available on Plymouth to win the first half looks like a sensible play, while those who fancy something a bit more exotic might wish to consider the 33/1 on offer about Plymouth to win 3-2.
It’s worth noting that all but one of Argyle’s nine victories this season have been achieved by the Plymouth/Plymouth double result method with interval leads at Wimbledon, Northampton and Wycombe following a familiar pattern from Adams’ days at Ross County. The Staggies would regularly seize the early initiative on the road but seeing those games out was never a formality.
Due respect must be given to Notts for a run of four straight wins on home soil and we shouldn’t be overly judgemental about an embarrassing 5-1 defeat to Sheffield United in midweek. Moniz was convinced his team were good enough to play an expansive attacking game against the Blades on their own patch, a decision that backfired spectacularly.
It’s a fine example of how the Dutchman flies by the seat of his pants. His cavalier personality has taken him to eight different countries in a colourful coaching career but he seldom sticks around in the same job for more than a season, so sit back and enjoy the ride while you can. He will be riding off into the sunset soon enough and this might just prove to be the game for which he is best remembered.
For more information about Mike Holden’s shot-based ratings system, follow this link.