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Preview | Southend United (h)

Southend United visit Meadow Lane on Saturday on the back of two games without defeat, the first time they have managed to do this since drawing with Wealdstone and then Wrexham early in September.


Their recent win away at Altrincham shouldn't be taken lightly and a 1-1 draw at fellow strugglers Maidenhead on Tuesday night must have been frustrating having taken the lead because a win would have seen them up to 18th place and 3 points clear of the bottom three.


As it is the draw sees the Shrimpers occupying that third relegation spot with 15 points, albeit on goal difference behind Maidenhead and Weymouth.


By contrast Notts have made the most of their two weeks off concluding with a team building day at Loughborough University and further strengthening the squad with the loan signing of two footed youngster Jayden Richardson from Forest who impressed with spells at Forest Green Rovers and Exeter City and has made 4 appearances for them over the river this season.


Notts will be keen to play again and on the face of it Saturdays opponents offer an opportunity to put another three points on the board and maintain the pressure on the league leaders.


Current Form:

Last six outings for both clubs below.

Key match actions compared for the season so far.

As expected, league positions would suggest Notts come out on top in most actions and when you factor in the number of shots, progressive play and smart passes it's apparent Notts are the more creative which should in theory be the difference between the two on match day.


Players:

The Shrimpers look like they will be without club Captain John White again who has missed out on the last few games due to an ongoing back injury.


In his absence experienced defender Jason Demetriou has stepped up to the mark and even took temporary charge of playing matters for three games between the sacking of Phil Brown and appointment of Kevin Maher at the back end of October.


Jason Demetriou - Southend United

Up front for Southend is former Yeovil Town striker Rhys Murphy who netted 30 National League goals in two seasons for the Glovers.


Murphy is partnered by 22 year old Sam Dalby who signed on a free transfer from Watford in the summer after turning out on loan for both Woking and Stockport in the National League last season.


Former Sheffield United U23 coach Darren Currie forms part of Kevin Maher's coaching staff so it's no surprise to find a couple of very promising Blades youngsters on loan at Roots Hall.


Centre Back Kacper Lopata started out as part of Brighton's academy and after a short spell with Zaglebie Sosnowiec in Poland's second tier he made a permanent move from Brighton to Sheffield United. Lopata, who has impressed in 6 games for the Shrimpers so far has also represented Poland at U18, U19 and U20 level.

Kacper Lopata playing for Sheffield United U23's

The other loan signing from the Blades is attacking midfielder Zak Brunt.


Those of you who follow myself and Colin Sisson on our Analysts Bar YouTube pod might recall us discussing Brunt at some length after he caught Colin's eye.


A versatile and energetic midfielder Brunt has already played on both wings for Southend as well as central attacking midfielder.


The 20 year old played two games for the Sheffield United first team this season in the Carabao Cup and is a player Notts will need to keep an eye on.


Zak Brunt playing for Sheffield United

Tactics:

Southend have generally switched between a 4-4-2 and a 3-4-1-2 formation this season with the latter being used 34% of the time to date.


They have lacked consistency in goal creation opportunities which is further confirmed by their low goals per game ratio.


Based on previous matches it's likely that Maher will set his team up with a 3-4-1-2 to try and provide a greater presence in the middle of the pitch. This will also make them more compact and help to combat Notts' build up play through the thirds. Additionally the Shrimpers don't allow the opposition much time on the ball restricting opponents to just 7.10 passes per attack so expect Notts to be pressed into moving the ball forward a little quicker than normal.


With Aaron Nemane still out with a hand injury and Dion Kelly-Evans apparently suffering with illness Notts fans shouldn't be surprised to see new signing Jayden Richardson feature.


This is a game Notts should really be able to take by the scruff of the neck. Southend have some good players and have shown at times this season that they can be competitive, however it's inconsistency and an inability to maintain the same levels for 90 minutes that has been their undoing on occasion and this is something Notts should be able to take advantage of.


Odds:

As you might expect the bookies currently have Notts as big favourites for the win at 7/10.


You're looking at 7/2 for a Southend win and 3/1 for the draw.


Based on these odds you can expect Notts to have a 59% chance of winning but historically they would win 68% of these games.


When Southend have odds of 7/2 you would expect them to have a 22% chance of winning, however historically they only win 8% of games when at these odds.


Essentially Notts will be raring to go after their two week break and with the squad being further strengthened you would expect them to come out all guns blazing.


That said we have been down this road before and despite the disparity in league position it would be foolish of Notts not to remain guarded against an opposition that appears to be improving under Kevin Maher.


With Grimsby at home to leaders Chesterfield and Boreham Wood, Halifax, Stockport, Solihull and Bromley all with tricky away fixtures there's an outside chance Notts could bump themselves up to third.


Wrexham have a favourable game at home to Weymouth which could see them in the top three. Defeat for Notts could see a drop to 10th.


As always thanks for reading and if you have any questions about the stats please feel free to give me a shout either in the comments section below, via the contact page on the website or through the usual social media channels.


COYP!

Richard


Notes:

Betting odds 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 or betting industry associated businesses.

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