On the opening weekend of the League Two season, Crewe take on Mansfield in a game that is going to be great to watch. Crewe have a solid chance of promotion this year and I expect them to do very well, while Mansfield are favourites to win the league and have put together a formidable looking squad.
With many new faces coming into Mansfield, now may be the best time to play them as they settle down and push for promotion. Crewe know what is required in this league and they are a decent team at home, this is going to be a tough test for Mansfield early in the season.
Crewe had a poor season last year, but they have built a squad capable of changing that this season and I am expecting them to put in some much better performances. Their final pre-season game brought a good win over a youthful Stoke team, giving Crewe a good confidence boost at just the right time.
A good start will only add to that confidence and if they do manage to get off to a good start, I have high expectations from them this season. The right players have been brought into the club and a good mix of new and old faces now remain. I can see Crewe surprising a few people this season with how they perform in the league.
Mansfield haven’t performed too well in pre-season, although with the amount of new signings at the club, that was always to be expected. They have used their games to bed in the new signings and tried to create some team togetherness, something they will need this season.
Their preparation and the amount of players they have brought in might make them struggle to start with and if I was choosing a time to play against Mansfield, it would be right now, before they come together and start performing. Manager Steve Evans will certainly earn his money during August, but I won’t be quick to judge Mansfield until we have seen them a few games into the season.
Crewe will be looking to forwards Chris Dagnall and Jordan Bowery for inspiration. If those two can work together and build up a partnership then they have a great chance of being the best strike partnership in the division. With those two surely going to produce the good going forward and a decent looking defence on paper, especially after the arrival of newcomer Michael Raynes, Crewe have a great chance of upsetting many teams this season. That includes Mansfield in this game.
Mansfield have added a lot of new players so working out their best eleven is going to take time. Centre back David Mirfin and midfielder Will Atkinson were playing at the top of League One last season and they add a huge amount of quality to the line-up. I expect these two to start, with a whole host of new faces making their debuts at some point over the first few games.
Top Betting Tips
Mansfield are rightfully the favourites for promotion to League One and to win the league this season. However, their set up will not help them early in the season and I don’t believe they will have a great start due to so many new arrivals at the club. That makes them vulnerable in the early games, and with Crewe looking like they have a decent chance this season, I am happy to back Crewe to cause a minor upset in this one by winning the game.
Crewe can be backed at 9/4 with Ladbrokes to win the game, a price that I feel offers very good value, especially as they are playing at home. Crewe will surprise a few people this season, and I think their first surprise could come this weekend when League Two favourites Mansfield leave Gresty Road empty handed. I think Chris Dagnall is going to score a lot of goals for Crewe this season and I am also going to back him to be the first goal scorer in this game. He can be backed at 13/2 with Paddy Power and Ladbrokes and will be key to any success Crewe have both in this game and throughout the season.