Dagenham are a side who have had mixed fortunes so far this season, and before their 4-1 demolition job of Bromley on Bank Holiday Monday there had been growing concerns among some of their fan base over the abilities of manager Daryl McMahon.
The Daggers narrowly missed out on a play off spot so last season, and considering the level of expenditure and talent of playing squad at their disposal, they really couldn’t afford to miss out again.
It’s typical Notts have to play Dagenham after they put in a potential season best performance against Bromley, but The Magpies also come off the back of arguably their best performance for some time, with a season high xG of 1.93 displaying how things are beginning to click under new boss Williams.
Despite the result against Bromley it's worth noting that Dagenham actually came out second best in a number of key areas with The Ravens having more shots, more passes, the lions share of possession and a higher xG, although this was inflated somewhat by a Michael Cheek penalty.
What this probably does tell us is that Dagenham made the most of their goal scoring opportunities when they presented themselves, albeit their opener was a somewhat fortuitous own goal.
After 6 games Dagenham find themselves 12th in the league on 8 points having won 2, drawn 2, and lost 2. In fact, prior to Monday's game they had scored 4 and conceded 6 so the +3 GD vs Bromley a well received bonus.
Notts are one of only two National League teams with an unbeaten start to the season and go into Saturdays game looking for their third straight win on the bounce.
Notts did much to improve their performances all over the park against Solihull. In fact the high, aggressive press saw The Magpies territory numbers for the season so far increase quite dramatically.
When comparing playing style strengths Notts are ranking higher than Dagenham in nearly all match actions except long ball play.
As with usual you can combine and separate the radar visuals below for easier comparison.
In terms of personnel Dagenham’s most interesting area is probably in the middle of the park.
Nikola Tavares was signed from part time Wealdstone in the summer, and he joined Dagenham with the ability to play both in a back 3 or at RWB; however, in recent weeks he has been employed as a 6 at the base of Dagenham’s midfield, a role he has taken to extremely well, establishing himself as a key player.
The 23 year old has been involved in 6.13 defensive duels per 90, not a huge number but around what you would expect for a combative midfielder; he has however won 71.43% of these duels, a massive number for a defensive midfielder.
Tavares breaks up play, and uses his experience as a defender in order to do so, supplying the two men either side of him; he doesn’t get on the ball much himself, playing just 27.59 passes per 90. As mentioned Tavares is very much the man who breaks play up, rather than one who starts attacks himself. Notts don’t really have anyone who plays that role, so direct comparisons are perhaps a little unfair, but Jim O’Brien plays 41.02 passes per 90, whilst Geraldo Bajrami plays 42.89. Both have featured as Matty Palmer’s ‘defensive’ midfield partner in recent weeks, and clearly the role they play is much more advanced, as shown by the fact they average around 15 more passes per 90.
To Tavares’ left is Matt Robinson, a former Leicester City academy graduate who has been an ever present for Dagenham for some time now.
Robinson played 3,356 minutes last season, 3rd most in Dagenham’s side, and of the 2 players that played more minutes only keeper Elliot Justham remains with the club. So far this season Robinson is one of just 4 players who have played every minute this, showing how important Robinson is to McMahon’s side.
Robinson has also made 35.3 passes per 90, almost 10 more than Tavares, likely due to being more heavily involved in the build up play. Robinson is an all action midfielder, one who isn’t necessarily great at anything in particular, but a player who may be described as ‘a jack of all trades’. He wins an impressive 70.27% of his defensive duels, but he is a player that Notts can get at.
Robinson has only completed 73.39% of his passes, showing he isn’t a player that’s impervious to pressure.
With two of the midfield 3 almost nailed on, the final spot is often shared between summer signing Omar Mussa, and 24 year old midfielder Mo Sagaf. The final role of the 3 is one that requires a bit more invention and technique than the other two, playing as the side’s ‘playmaker’, complimenting the defensive might of Tavares and the relentless running of Robinson.
Mussa started the last game, and seeing as they won 4-1 it probably isn’t a jump to suggest that he will retain his place in the team. A cultured midfielder, the 22 year old Belgian midfielder hasn’t quite settled at his new club, starting just twice so far, although he has already shown some early signs of class.
The other option, Sagaf, has completed 81.25% of his passes and has also played a key pass, his assist for the only goal against Maidenhead, so he too presents an interesting option, and it will be one of the uncertainties in the Dagenham starting 11.
In addition to Dagenham’s fascinating midfield options, they also have two of the best attackers in the league in Junior Morias and Paul McCallum, a duo who have fired 6 goals between them and 30 the season before. In fact, before left wing back Mauro Vilhete added the 3rd against Bromley the duo had scored 100% of Dagenham’s goals, underlining their reliance upon Morias and McCallum for their goals.
The pair also compliment each other extremely well, and the balance throughout Dagenham’s side is actually really impressive; just as the midfield 3 all have different skill sets, so too do the front 2.
McCallum is a 6' 3" forward who is dominant in the air and is equally adept at striking the ball. Jamaican striker Morias on the other hand is a 5' 8" pacey forward who is able to run off of McCallum, and one who often drifts into wide areas to help support the wing backs who provide much of Dagenham’s width. The pair therefore have extremely different, yet complimentary styles, and could be a real handful for Notts’ back 3 on Saturday.
Dagenham operate a very similar system to Notts, sharing a back 5 system, with the key distinction being that McMahon likes to operate with 3 central midfielders, whilst Williams favours just the 2.
It therefore makes for a fascinating tactical battle, and as is so often the case when two similar systems play it may simply come down to who has the better personnel on the day.
Dagenham will be without central defender Emmanuel Onariase, after he received his second yellow in the 94th minute on Saturday, and his replacement is likely to be Yoan Zouma, who came on as a sub in their 4-1 victory, as usual first choice centre half David Longe-King continues to suffer with an injury.
Nikola Tavares also limped off on Monday, and he has been a key figure at the base of their midfield; whether he will be fit for Saturday remains to be seen.
Dagenham have scored 8 and conceded 7 goals in their first 6 games with an average xG of 1.26 per game and an average xCG of 1.44 per game.
They are averaging 10.50 shots per 90 mins with just 31.70% of those attempts on target.
At the other end of the pitch Dagenham have faced an average of 8.17 shots per 90 mins with 46.90% of attempts faced on target.
Prior to the Bromley game Dagenham had an average xG of just 1.23 and what makes the win on Monday more interesting is that they have had games where they really haven't had their shooting boots on. For example, in the defeat to Yeovil they had 11 attempts on goal but only found the target with one of those attempts.
By contrast Notts are averaging 2.17 goals per game with an average xG of 1.50 so performing better than expected in front of goal.
Defensively Notts are conceding 1.00 goals per game with an xGC average of 1.15 suggesting there is some stability growing at the back.
Despite being the away team the bookies have Notts as favourites and the best on a Notts win at time of writing is 5/4.
Dagenham on the other hand are currently at 19/10 and you can get around 12/5 for the draw.
Based on these odds the expected chance of a Notts win is 44% but historically they win 37% of games when at these odds.
Dagenham's expected win at 19/10 is 34%, however, historically they only win 18% of games when at these odds.
Dagenham may have to play a makeshift defence, as both Mauro Vilhete and Sam Ling have been tasked with playing out of position, with the former filling in at LWB whilst the latter slotted in at CB, and they may be asked to once again play in these unfamiliar roles.
As a result, Notts may feel they are playing Dagenham at a good time, but will still need to guard against complacency; The Essex outfit are still a capable side and dangerous side, one who put 4 past a Bromley side who had just kept 4 clean sheets in a row.
For Notts County Stats:
Richard Ogando - @notts_stats
Tom Williams - @tomhwilliams23
Colin Sisson - @colin_sisson
Daryl McMahon | Matt Robinson - daggers.co.uk
Nikola Tavares - sportsclub.co.za
Omar Mussa - eastlondonadvertiser.co.uk
Betting odds and score predictions are only used as another means to assess current form and sporting industry expectations of possible result. Notts County Stats do not endorse any form of gambling.