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Opposition Analysis | Chesterfield

Notts County look forward to hosting fellow promotion hopeful's Chesterfield at Meadow Lane on Saturday 26th March and will be looking to make it 3 wins in a week as well as wanting to exact a degree of revenge on the visitors following the 3 -1 defeat suffered at the Technique Stadium just three weeks ago.

Likewise Chesterfield will be looking to bounce back after defeat away at Altrincham earlier this week.

In this report we'll will take a closer look at the Spireites. We'll consider their shape and style of play and look to identify their strengths and where their threats are likely to be, but additionally we'll look at possible weaknesses and how Notts might look to exploit them.

The report is based on Chesterfield's last 6 games but will also consider data for the season so far. All information and data has been researched via Wyscout,, official club websites and local news outlets.

Form - Last 6 Games

Formations & Playing Style

Chesterfield started the season very much playing variations of a back three under James Rowe, predominantly a 3-4-1-2/3-4-2-1 formation. However since Paul Cook returned to take over playing affairs in February he has favoured a back 4 mainly setting up in a 4-1-4-1 formation.

The decision to switch to a different formation may also have been influenced by the unfortunate injury sustained by Kabongo Tshimanga at Weymouth around the same time.

Chesterfield are comfortable in possession but will look to progress and move the ball quickly making them quite direct in their build up play. Direct doesn't always mean long ball, however Chesterfield are certainly not averse to playing it long having recorded the second highest number of long ball passes in the National League for the season so far.

Further confirmation of their direct approach is evident in the number of long goal kicks taken over short goal kicks. Of the 276 goal kicks taken by Scott Loach in the Chesterfield goal this season 226 have been long therefore playing it short in the build up has occurred just 1.3 times on average per 90 minutes.

At 6'4" tall Joe Quigley along with fellow 6 footer Akwasi Asante will certainly be the target for many of those long goal kicks and will be looking to bring any one of four attacking midfielders into play, especially where they can present either of the wingers with a chance to get in behind the Notts back line.

The image below shows Chesterfield's typical shape in a 4-1-4-1 and how they will try to apply direct pressure by getting the wingers in behind the lines in the build up with a long ball from the keeper to the target man.


We've already established that Chesterfield will be direct in their play. Calvin Miller and Liam Mandeville offer a big threat down the wings but more crosses come in from Miller on the left.

The 4-1-4-1 formation allows Chesterfield to get forward in numbers when in possession. When this happens holding midfielder James Kellermann will look to push higher creating a potential overload in their final third.

Chesterfield also have an aerial threat, especially from set pieces as Notts found out to their peril in the defeat to Chesterfield just a few weeks ago.

From the video below you can see how Chesterfield use their shape from a corner to win the second ball, then to move the ball from right to left to pick out the wide player in space. The resulting cross is met by Chesterfield's Laurence Maguire, who picked up the loose ball to start the second phase and was then allowed to attack the resulting cross unmarked.

Video: Chesterfield FC YouTube.

Organisation in defending both the long ball to the target man up front and set pieces will be key to nullifying the Chesterfield threats.

Finally on the occasions when they do build up through the phases Chesterfield's 4-1-4-1 formation lends itself to creating pockets of space between the lines with the additional midfielder sat between the back 4 and attacking midfielders.


Paul Cook will ensure that his Chesterfield players are well organised and drilled in their transitions. The 4-1-4-1 can become an expansive 4-2-3-1 when in the attacking phase but can also become a highly effective 4-5-1 mid/low block when transitioning out of possession.

One weakness that Notts can look to exploit is picking up lost balls. Chesterfield have a tendency to lose possession in the final third and don't have the best record for recoveries in this area.

We've established that Chesterfield commit numbers when in attack, however, Notts have pace and good ball movement in abundance and being ready to counter attack quickly and decisively off the back of ball losses in the defensive third will allow Notts to get in behind the Chesterfield back line and into high value offensive positions.

Again, we can look back at the game at Chesterfield and see how this worked in Notts' favour in the video below. Chesterfield are committed in numbers attacking the final third but a ball loss from a shot presented Notts the opportunity to counter attack with very little resistance resulting in a goal for Sam.

Video: Chesterfield FC YouTube.


Essentially Chesterfield will want to be on the front foot and this could play into Notts' hands. However, it's likely their attacking phases may involve fewer numbers than usual as they look to leave cover in their defensive 60% of the pitch so as not to get caught out on the counter attack.

There is an impressive spine through the Chesterfield team with Grimes and Maguire in the centre of defence, Kahn and Kellermann marshalling the midfield and Quigley and Asante both capable of playing as the target man. Add to that Miller and Mandeville out wide it's easy to see how they have continued to push on even after the loss of Tshimanga.

Based on the last 6 games Chesterfield's most used starting 11 if in a 4-1-4-1 has looked like the set up below.

Ian Burchnall had started to settle on a very attacking 4-2-3-1 but injuries and the introduction of Harry Arter saw a return to a back 3 with Arter playing the deep holding midfielder. This in turn has allowed Palmer to play more advanced alongside Vincent but more importantly brought Rodrigues more into the game in a dominant No.10 role which provides Notts with a multitude of options in the build up both through the middle and out wide.

However plays Notts will definitely be in a healthier position than they were for the defeat a few weeks ago and will take confidence in two very impressive wins against Dagenham and Boreham Wood.

Whatever happens it looks like BT Sport could have picked themselves a humdinger of a game to cover and it certainly won't be one for the feint hearted!

As always thanks for reading. If you find my work interesting please feel free to comment, share and subscribe as it will be very much appreciated.


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