4 points clear at Christmas and a win over a challenger. The latest win didn’t come as easily as it seemed initially but 3 points against a playoff side rarely does. That makes it 3 wins in a row for the Imps, at the other end of the spectrum are our Boxing Day hosts, Crewe who have failed to pick up any points in the last 3 games. Here are some things to look out for:
1) The Railwaymen (All Crewe Alexandra stats are League only)
Not only have David Artell’s men failed to get a point in their last 3 games, but they’ve also failed to find the net. When it comes to longer-term form, it’s also pretty bleak. They’re second bottom in the last 8 games table and have lost 6 of those. The latest 3 defeats have all come against top-half sides though, with 2 in the playoffs. In fact, their record against League Two’s better teams shows they don’t really have what it takes to compete with the strongest in the division. They’ve played all of the sides in the top half and only won twice. They’ve only managed 2 points in their games against the top 8 and were thumped 6-0 by Colchester.
However, those 2 draws are worth noting. They managed to hold MK Dons and Bury at home. In fact, their home form is what’s keeping them afloat. They’re 8th in the home table, winning 4 times as many points at Gretsy Road than away despite an extra away game. 86% of their goals scored have come at home too. While they’re certainly sharper at home, their woeful away offence means they’ve still only notched 21 this campaign, the 3rd worst in the division – 20 fewer than ourselves with an extra game.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, they failed to score at Sincil Bank in the reverse fixture, falling to a second-half Tom Pett goal. It’ll be a good sign if Tom can grab another, City have won every game when he’s scored or assisted this season.
2) Lee Frecklington
Pett’s goal against Crewe last time out was set up by Lee Frecklington. The club captain is fast becoming integral to how we operate. He’s one you really notice when absent. The balance he provides to the midfield is evident, with him on the field it takes an average whopping 135 minutes to concede a goal (the second best record in the squad after John Akinde). Perhaps the most telling stat is that, this season, Lincoln have won an impressive 80% of the games Lee has started (bettered only by Grant Smith with 89% but who has made just 9 starts so far). He’s no slouch going forwards either with a goal contribution coming every 3 games. They’ve been important goals too, with his goals or assists winning 3 games, the joint 3rd best record.
3) A new type of analysis from me
I had spent most of the week trying to create a matrix to accurately assess player performance but this proved a little too challenging. As an alternative, I’ve gone deeper with my analysis of team performance when players are on the pitch. I’m not sure how easy the image will be to read embedded in the article so here’s it full size. I’m afraid I’ll have to leave you to pore over these at your own leisure as I’m informed that Christmas isn’t a time to sit on my spreadsheet. Merry Christmas everyone.