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This Week's Opposition: Plymouth Argyle

Photo Credit: Plymouth Argyle

Following last week’s 1-1 draw with Barnsley at Fratton Park, the Blues hit the road again and the destination this time around is Devon, where Plymouth Argyle await John Mousinho’s men.

Home Park hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Pompey in recent years - They haven’t won there on any of their last 6 attempts, last tasting victory in August 2015, when Matt Tubbs and Gary Roberts were both on target from the penalty spot in a game which ended 2-1 in the Blues’ favour.

In this season’s reverse fixture at PO4 back in September, the sides could not be separated, drawing 2-2 thanks to Reeco Hackett’s last minute equaliser.

Plenty has changed for both sides since that stalemate at Fratton, so let’s take a look into the challenge that lies in wait for the Blues this time around.

MANAGER

One thing that hasn’t changed however, is the man representing them in the dugout.

The Pilgrims are still managed by 38-year-old Steven Schumacher, who took charge of the side in December 2021 following the departure of Ryan Lowe to Preston North End.

Schumacher had initially been brought to Home Park as Lowe’s assistant 2-and-a-half years prior - The duo arriving together from Bury, whom they had helped win promotion to League One during the 2018/19 season, shortly before the club’s liquidation.

Since Lowe’s departure and Schumacher’s appointment as his replacement, 36 of Argyle’s 65 competitive matches have resulted in victory, earning the gaffer a win percentage of 55.38.

ONE TO WATCH

Since arriving on loan from Aston Villa at the start of the campaign, 22-year-old midfielder Finn Azaz has registered 6 goals and 7 assists across 21 appearances in all competitions.

Azaz returned to the squad just 4 weeks ago for their trip to Ipswich Town, having previously missed 12 weeks of action following an ankle break sustained in a match against Shrewsbury Town at Home Park back in October.

He was used as a substitute for Argyle’s clash with The Tractor Boys on that day and again the following week for the visit of Cheltenham Town, returning to the starting XI for last week’s top-of-the-table clash with Sheffield Wednesday.

Azaz represents the squad number 18 for Plymouth.

TOP SCORER

Two players are tied as Plymouth’s top scorer in League One at present - One is still at the club, whereas the other was recalled from his loan by his parent side in January.

Swansea City winger Morgan Whittaker and Argyle striker Ryan Hardie have both contributed to 9 league goals for Argyle so far this term.

25-year-old Hardie, who joined the club on a permanent deal from Blackpool in January 2021,  has bagged 2 goals in his last 4 matches, having previously gone on a run of 9 appearances without finding the back of the net.

Number 9 is the shirt worn by the Scottish forward.

CURRENT FORM

Steven Schumacher’s side occupy 2nd place in League One at this stage and have been in or around the automatic promotion spots for the majority of the season.

They had been top for a while but recently surrendered that place to Sheffield Wednesday, losing to The Owls by a goal to nil at Hillsborough last time out - That was Argyle’s first league defeat since a 2-0 loss to Port Vale at Home Park on December the 2nd.

Of their last 10 league fixtures, Plymouth have secured maximum points in 5, drawn 3 and lost 2.

The Pilgrims are currently 6 points ahead of 3rd place Ipswich Town, having played the same amount of matches (29).

Can the Blues get back to winning ways, even with the odds stacked against them?

Join Connor Moseley, Jake Smith and Jay Sadler for all of the unmissable action, when Pompey Live returns this Saturday from 2pm!

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