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Gillingham's 2020/21 EFL season so far compared to their previous campaign

Gillingham are managing to match last season’s start to the campaign despite it being manager Steve Evans’ toughest task yet.

Evans, now with 500 Football League games behind him as a manager, has been tested with numerous injuries, training issues and a run of games against some huge clubs for League 1 but the stats paint an encouraging picture.

Gillingham manager Steve Evans gets his message across on Saturday Picture: Keith Gillard
Gillingham manager Steve Evans gets his message across on Saturday Picture: Keith Gillard

The Gills’ 15th position may not look so good at first glance but it’s no worse than last season, infact it’s exactly the same, and by the time football was halted last season, the team were challenging for a play-off place.

Last year Gillingham came away from a goalless draw at Portsmouth sitting 15th in League 1 with 14 points off their first 12 games. The Gills only took one win from their four games after that but had a super second half of the season, which included a 15-game unbeaten streak.

Last season the Gills started with games that included against teams who ended the season (on PPG average) sitting first, third and fourth in the table.

The Gills have had a similar run if you look at the current table, having already played Hull (first), Ipswich (third), Portsmouth (fourth) and Charlton (fifth). It might be argued those four are bigger than the leading sides last season and the Gills have also had to face Sunderland (8th) and Fleetwood (7th) so far too.

The average positions of the teams faced between the years is pretty much the same too, but what Evans didn’t have to cope with last season was a flurry of injuries to key men.

Captain Kyle Dempsey picked up an injury in the first league game and he’s only just got back up to speed in the last few weeks. Vice captain Stuart O’Keefe broke his leg just 10 days into the new campaign.

Playmaker Jacob Mellis suffered a serious knee injury that looks like keeping him out for much of the season - although it's not as bad as first feared - while Connor Ogilvie, Ryan Jackson and Alex MacDonald have all been in and out of the side after being sent off.

Loan player Tommy O’Connor was a key man last season but has been troubled by hamstring injuries and manager Evans was furious that he played on Wednesday for Republic of Ireland under-21s despite a twinge. Matty Willock and Scott Robertson have had issues too.

It’s no wonder the team is still taking shape.

Evans recently spoke about the issues they have had with training and that’s on top of a summer where they were playing catch-up after not wanting to offer contracts before a return date was known. Losing players like Max Ehmer, Brandon Hanlan and Mikael Mandron was a blow.

Saturday's game against Charlton shows the team that was put together in the summer is more than capable of challenging at the top end.

The Gills are now preparing for a game against AFC Wimbledon, the team who ended that 15-game unbeaten run last season. Winning that will mean the stats are looking even better and with a run of games against those lower down the league, the team will be confident of working their way back up towards the top half.

More on the Gills;

'We can be up there' says Gills defender

Gillingham v Charlton top 10 pictures

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