The Blues’ Sky Bet League Two season continues this weekend as we make the relatively short trip to Crewe.
After a promising second half performance against Barnet last week, the Blues will be hoping to go one better than the point they picked up at Brunton Park last week.
But Saturday’s hosts will be keen to reverse their own disappointing run of form and pick up a vital home victory.
We put Crewe under the spotlight ahead of our trip to Gresty Road:
Looking to Bounce Back
Crewe boss David Artell has said his side are targeting a more ‘complete performance’ when the Cumbrians come to town as they target a response following back-to-back defeats.
The Railwaymen’s start to the season has been mixed, and they currently sit only three points and three places above the Blues in 15th.
For while their last two outings have ended in defeats to Exeter and Cambridge, their prior form was rather more encouraging.
They defeated Chesterfield 5-1 and picked up wins against Port Vale and Barnet with further points coming from draws with Newport and Mansfield.
There’s enough from those results to suggest that Artell’s men certainly have the potential to hurt teams, and they’ll be looking to bounce back to their previous form this weekend.
There’s a number of familiar faces in both camps this weekend who will be keen to get one over on their former employers.
Centre back Michael Raynes departed Brunton Park after two years this summer and made the move to Crewe where he has eight appearances in all competitions so far this season.
Meanwhile in the Blues’ camp, both Mark Ellis and Shaun Miller will be returning to a familiar haunt.
Ellis spent two years at Gresty Road, making over 90 appearances for the club during a successful spell.
Miller began his career at Crewe and was at the club for over six years where he impressed many with an excellent goal return before moving to Sheffield United.
What Does History Tell Us?
The two sides have met regularly over the years and there’s literally nothing to separate them with both teams having claimed 36 victories apiece from our 86 meetings.
In recent years it’s Crewe who have slightly shaded the meetings however, with the Alex unbeaten against the Blues in our last three meetings.
United’s last triumph over Crewe came back in 2013 when goals from Matty Robson and Sean O’Hanlon saw the Cumbrians claim three points at Brunton Park.
Watch highlights of last season's away game here:
Eight Years and Waiting
While the trip to Gresty Road is one of the shorter ones for United, it hasn’t been a particularly fruitful journey in recent years.
You have to go back to March 2009 for the last time the Blues won at Crewe, as they triumphed 2-1 thanks to goals from loanee Gareth Taylor and Joe Anyinsah.
Keith Curle will be hoping to reverse that record this weekend.
Ones to Watch
+ Ben Garratt - A product of Crewe’s famous youth academy, the young goalkeeper has now made over 170 professional appearances after bursting onto the scene in 2012/13. The 23-year-old won the Railwaymen’s Player of the Season accolade in 2015 and 2016 and has also represented England at U17 level in the 2011 World Cup. Garratt has now become a key member of Artell’s squad and will be pivotal this season - he certainly provides a reliable last line of defence for Crewe.
+ George Cooper - Another player who came through the Railwaymen’s renowned youth setup, the creative midfielder enjoyed a phenomenal 2016/17 campaign. A regular starter under Artell, Cooper netted ten times and claimed a further 14 assists in his 53 appearances, with sides starting to sit up and take notice of the 20-year-old. If he can perform as well this season, then Crewe will have a real attacking threat on their hands.
+ Chris Porter - Porter offers a bit more experience in a relatively young Crewe side having spent time at the likes of Oldham, Motherwell, Derby County and Sheffield United. His most recent spell came with Colchester United, where his 16 goals last season encouraged Artell to pull out all the stops to lure him to Gresty Road this summer. A physical presence and a fine finisher, Porter could be the man to fire Crewe up the table this season. And with a partnership with Chris Dagnall starting to blossom, it could see the Alex cause opposition teams plenty of problems.