Opposition Analysis | Grimsby Town

Notts County host Grimsby Town in a National League Play-Off Eliminator on Monday 23rd May 2022.


Both clubs have been in similar form heading into this encounter and Grimsby will be hoping for a repeat of their successful last visit to Meadow Lane back in February where a 2-1 win thanks to a late Luke Waterfall goal in added time saw them head back to North Lincolnshire with the points.


Notts on the other hand will hope to reverse that outcome and will be boosted by heading into the play-offs without any injury concerns.


Whatever happens a semi-final trip away to Wrexham awaits the victors.


Our focus for this analysis report will be firmly on Grimsby as we put their form, tactics, players, strengths and weaknesses under the spotlight.


All data quoted in this report is from Wyscout.com and taken from Grimsby's last 8 National League games. Thanks also to Colin Sisson for his invaluable tactical input.


Form (Grimsby Town) - Last 8 Games


P8 | W5 | D3 | L0 | F16 | A9 | GD +7 | xG 19.24 | xGD +9.78

Edit: Following publication it was apparent that the 8 games featured didn't include Grimsby's defeat to Maidenhead, I apologise for this however it does not alter the analysis of the featured games.


Formations & Playing Style

Paul Hurst generally sets up with a back four. In the 8 games analysed he has favoured a 4-4-2 formation which accounted for 42% of the games analysed.


Other formations included 4-2-3-1 (20%), 4-1-4-1 (19%) and 4-4-1-1 (13%).


Hurst will look to press Notts high again as they did on their last visit to Meadow Lane so will likely start with his favoured 4-4-2 which has produced a PPDA of 5.48 and an xG 11.27 from the last 8 games. Of course this could also easily be a 4-4-1-1 and it's worth noting that last time out at Meadow Lane Grimsby started as a 4-1-4-1.


The press will be looking to capitalise on ball losses by Notts in their defensive 60% of the pitch which in turn would offer Grimsby the opportunity to threaten on the counter attack.


When things haven't quite gone to plan Hurst has changed things up to 4-2-3-1 which provides some additional width as well as additional cover in the middle third.


Grimsby have a fully fit squad to choose from for this game with the exception of Aston Villa loanee Arjan Raikhy who despite getting minutes in against Eastleigh still isn't deemed fit enough to start.


Based on this and looking at the last 8 games a 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 formation is likely with the line up below displaying the players and positions with the most minutes for the sample period.

Style of play will have an impact on how a game is likely to be played out. In the visualisation below you can see how Paul Hurst and Ian Burchnall compare in their playing styles.


This further confirms that Paul Hurst will have his team pressing high and with a high challenge intensity whereas Ian Burchnall has a focus on his players maintaining possession and deep circulation of the ball in their build up play.


The values are percentile ratings compared to all managers in the National League this season. For example Paul Hurst has the highest percentile rating for change intensity whereas Ian Burchnall scores highest in possession and deep circulation.


Click on 'combined' or 'separate' to compare the two charts. Hover over or click the charts to see percentile ratings.

Threats

We know Grimsby will press high when out of possession so Notts will have to be careful not to give away possession cheaply in their own defensive 60% of the pitch. Any turnover of possession in the attacking transitions for Notts has the potential for players to be out of position defensively leaving space in behind for Grimsby to capitalise on.


John McAtee and Ryan Taylor are just the sort of players to make you pay for any loss of ball possession. Additionally Harry Clifton and Jordan McGuire-Drew will push high and offer an attacking threat both down the wings and in the inside forward areas, almost as inverted wingers.


The video clip below is a great example of how Grimsby force a turnover and then attack with pace and in numbers, taking advantage of the opposition players being out of position and unable to recover their defensive shape in time to prevent a goal being conceded.


From when the ball is turned over, in a seemingly non-threatening area of the pitch to the point the goal is scored takes just 10 seconds and emphasises how threatening Grimsby can be on the counter.

Video: Wyscout


Notts will need to be disciplined in their build up play and be careful not to get too frustrated or too loose with their progressive passes in order to reduce the number of opportunities for Grimsby to turnover possession, especially in wide areas.


In the 8 games analysed the Mariners have been more threatening down their right flank where they press higher and where approximately 68% of through balls from the middle third are played and where the majority of crosses originate.


Weaknesses

Grimsby will be extremely disciplined in their pressing. However, 74% of their ball losses occur in their middle and final thirds.


Defensively they appear weaker in wide areas, in particular at left back which could be a bonus for Notts where the pace and creative play of Jayden Richardson and Cal Roberts could combine to take advantage of this weak area.


With Kyle Cameron and Richard Brindley back in the starting eleven Notts have the added advantage of being able to progress the ball quickly through the middle which in turn can cause the opposition to be drawn inside to cover creating space out wide for Notts to take advantage of.


It's interesting to see that just under 43% of fouls committed by Grimsby have been down their left side which again suggests Notts could capitalise from any set pieces drawn by fouls in the Notts attacking right wing final third.


If Notts can score first it could force Grimsby in to a change in shape, this would then create more space in between the lines and Notts' deep circulation will invite the Grimsby players higher up the pitch creating space between and in behind the lines for Notts to expose.


The clips below show two goals conceded by Grimsby last time out at Eastleigh. Both goals involved Eastleigh attacking with width and highlight Grimsby's frailties in dealing with the first phase of play which in turn allows Eastleigh to take advantage of the space left in behind as well as the disorganised Grimsby back line.


Video: Wyscout.


Conclusions

Grimsby will bring a high press and high tempo to this game. The first goal will be extremely impactful on how the game develops. If Grimsby get ahead expect them to convert to a compact mid block but still alert to any opportunities to counter.


If Notts make the breakthrough then the game will likely become a lot more open, Grimsby will need to push harder which will offer opportunities for Notts to find more space in their progressive transitions.


As mentioned earlier with Cameron and Brindley back fit and playin, Ian Burchnall can have confidence in a 3-5-2 formation. Both players have pace and positional awareness to cover the space in behind the wing backs, who in turn, can offer support to the back line should either of the aforementioned decide to push through the middle.


From a Notts perspective I can only request that their is patience, both from the players in their build up play and from the fans. This will be a very tight game and the stakes are too high to allow the temptation to progress the ball too early, where a forced error will likely benefit the opposition applying added and unnecessary pressure on the Notts goal.


As always thanks for reading. If you find my work interesting please feel free to comment, share and subscribe, all interaction is very much appreciated.


Richard.

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