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‘They’re not infallible, we’re not playing Barcelona....it’s Ipswich’ - Alex boss Artell relishing Town test

Crewe Alexandra boss David Artell is relishing the test of playing Ipswich Town today Picture: PA SPORT

Crewe Alexandra boss David Artell is relishing the test of playing Ipswich Town today Picture: PA SPORT

PA Archive/PA Images

Ipswich Town host Crewe Alexandra in a League One clash at Portman Road tomorrow afternoon (3pm). Mark Heath takes a look at The Railwaymen ahead of the game...

David Artell led Crewe to promotion last season Picture: PA SPORTDavid Artell led Crewe to promotion last season Picture: PA SPORT

Story so far

Crewe were promoted from League Two last season, finishing second in the Covid-19 shortened campaign.

David Artell’s men sit in 15th spot, having played just eight games so far - their match with Oxford was postponed twice because of postive coronavirus tests in the Alex camp.

They’ve won three, lost four and drawn one of their opening games, but haven’t been outclassed in any - they’ve gone down to narrow defeats to Sunderland, Hull City and current leaders Lincoln City, in their last game on Tuesday night, plus enjoyed an impressive 2-1 away win over Doncaster Rovers, and we all know what happened to Town there.

Artell said: “We’ve had a tough start, we’ve played five of the top ten, and we’ve done ok.

“I’m not happy with ok, and none of the players are happy with ok.”

Crewe boss David Artell respects Paul Lambert's side - but says they're beatable Picture: STEVE WALLERCrewe boss David Artell respects Paul Lambert's side - but says they're beatable Picture: STEVE WALLER

Ipswich test

Artell said: “You can’t ask for a tastier game than Ipswich away.

“They’re always good games - I remember playing there as a player. They’re good, they’re competitive, Paul’s a good manager who’s been around the block and sets his teams up well.

“They’re tough games these games, but that’s what we were striving to achieve last year, to play in these games - no disrespect, we don’t want to go to Stevenage or Cambridge. If we’re going four hours, I’d rather go to Ipswich - that’s the bottom line.

“We relish the opportunity, we relish the chance and they’re not infallible - we’re not playing Barcelona or Man City or Liverpool, it’s Ipswich.

“They’re in the same league as us and yes they’ve got a terrific history and they’re a big club, but it’s 11 against 11 on a Saturday afternoon, and that’s what we look forward to.”

Harry Pickering, left, has been a key figure for Crewe so far Picture: PA SPORTHarry Pickering, left, has been a key figure for Crewe so far Picture: PA SPORT

A case for the defence

As previously mentioned, the Railwaymen have not proved pushovers for anyone in League One as yet.

And one of the reasons for that is their sturdy defence. They’ve conceded just seven goals so far, and have yet to let in more than two in any game.

Their back five - keeper Will Jaaskaleinen, centre backs Omar Beckles and Harry Offord, plus full-backs Perry Ng and Harry Pickering – have been consistent and faced up well to the task of battling some of League One’s best attacking players.

Artell said: “We know we’re doing alright on that score, but we can’t get carried away.

“We’ve got to win games, and that means scoring goals as well as stopping them. All round, we’ve got to improve our levels slightly.”

Mikael Mandron, left, seen here playing for Colchester, is Crewe's leading scorer so far this season Picture: PA SPORTMikael Mandron, left, seen here playing for Colchester, is Crewe's leading scorer so far this season Picture: PA SPORT

Ones to watch

While the Alex have been resolute at the back, they’ve not exactly been prolific going forward.

Crewe have scored just eight goals, with three coming via the much-travelled Mikael Mandron, previously of Colchester United, Wigan and Gillingham, to name but a few. He’s started all eight games up top so far.

Pickering has chipped in with two from the back - a third in the EFL trophy too – while youngster Charlie Kirk pulls the strings in midfield.

He’s set up three goals so far, plus created 16 chances, so Town will have to be mindful of his influence.

Veteran striker Chris Porter, who scored 14 goals to lead Crewe to promoton last season, hasn’t started firing just yet, but he’s a physical, experienced option off the bench, while Offrande Zanzala, who scored eight for Accrington last season, is also available.

Betting

Town are overwhelming favourites to win this game, as they should be.

Indeed, according to Oddschecker, 85% of all bets placed on the game have gone on Town to win at 15/14.

A draw is 12/5, with an upset Crewe win available at 14/5 with some bookies.

A 1-0 Town win is the shortest odds at 6/1, but if you fancy Town to score a few you can get 16/1 on both a 3-0 and 3-1 triumph.

If you’re predicting the upset, a 1-0 Crewe win is priced at 9/1.


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