Crewe Alexandra manager David Artell says that fixtures against the likes of Sunderland are the reason we worked so hard to get promoted from League Two in 2020. Sadly, due to Covid rules, we couldn’t have supporters inside the Mornflake Stadium when Lee Johnson’s side visited last season.
Crewe put on one of their finest first half performances to race into a 2-0 lead but credit to Johnson’s side who stormed back to draw with two late goals. It was a thrilling game but felt like a defeat for Crewe after leading 2-0 against one of the division’s biggest clubs.
Artell is looking for a reaction following the disappointing 3-0 loss at Fleetwood on Saturday and a repeat of those 45, 60 minutes against Sunderland last season would be a welcome boost this evening.
Ahead of the Sunderland encounter, Artell said: “The fixtures come thick and fast in the EFL and League One is tough. There are 11, 12 teams thinking about promotion and play-offs and we know there are some big clubs at this level.
“That is what we worked so hard on to achieve to play teams like Sunderland again. Saturday, it is a trip to Wycombe, who were a Championship side last season. They are all difficult games but that is the challenge. It is up to us to embrace the challenge and have the belief that we can match these teams and take points off them. There is no reason why we cannot do that if we hit the levels we need to.
“The challenge is there. Sunderland will be many people’s favourites for promotion and we have to rise to that challenge. We have to match our standard because if we dip below it, like we did at Fleetwood then we will get a performance like we did on Saturday.
He added: “I am hoping that with the home fans and the atmosphere the Sunderland fans will help generate, will see our players rise to the challenge.”