DAVE ARTELL is looking forward to a head-to-head against Mansfield Town's dangerman tonight.
The Chester City centre half will come face-to-face with ex-Rotherham United team-mate Richie Barker as the Blues clash with Mansfield Town at the Saunders Honda Stadium, (7.45pm kick-off).
Ex-Mansfield defender, Artell, earmarked Barker as Mansfield's main threat as City prepare to extend their unbeaten start to the League Two campaign.
Artell said: “I was at Rotherham with Richie Barker and he is still a close friend.
“I'm looking forward to locking horns with him because it should be interesting – I spent five years on the same side, but I've never been on an opposing team to Richie.
“I rate him as a good player. He is Mansfield's leader and captain and I know he can't be replaced. He is the mainstay of the Mansfield side.
“We'll shake hands before and after tonight's match, but what happens on the pitch will stay on the pitch – as soon as we both cross that white line we'll be on different sides.”
Artell will go into tonight's match with eight stitches he picked up in a head wound after a nasty clash during Chester's 1-0 win at Torquay on Monday.
He added: “I had eight stitches at Torquay after a clash of heads and my head is still sore, but luckily the wound wasn't on my forehead.
“The Torquay doctor stitched me up and our physio Clive Goodyear was also present, but I didn't appreciate them telling me that the cut looked really nasty at the time!
“But I've trained all this week without too much problem and I'll probably have the stitches left in for our games against Grimsby and Notts County.”
Artell, who suffered a knee injury after an unfortunate collision with Scott McNiven on the training ground in pre-season, admits that injuries seem to be part and parcel of a defender's career.
He said: “It's not a surprise to pick up an injury every now and again. Phil Bolland has had two head injuries already this season, but he and I spend the majority of the game heading the ball clear. It does seem part and parcel of playing in defence.”
Artell admits that there will be more than three points at stake for the ex-Mansfield players in the City squad.
He said: “The gaffer and Ganns (John Gannon) have told the ex-Mansfield players in the squad that we can't afford to get caught up in the fact that we're playing against our old club.
“We will all be inspired to play well and we won't kid ourselves that there are bragging rights at stake as well as the three points, but we'll address that.
“The one thing we want to do above everything else is keep our unbeaten run going.
“We've got ourselves off to a good start and we want to focus on another win – it will be business as usual.”
Artell is hoping that Chester can demonstrate their strength and stamina, and not have to play catch-up after producing a breathtaking finish to earn a point at home to Darlington having trailed 4-2 with a minute left.
He said: “We're providing good value for money, but we'd settle for a scrappy 1-0 win tonight rather than a high-scoring contest.
“There can't be many sides in our division that would have been capable of coming away with a point after being 4-2 down against Darlington.
“We've been showing unbelievable stamina and resilience, but that's full credit to the lads who have shown how much strength in depth we've got within the squad.”
Artell is confident Chester can beat Mansfield and he provided a prediction for Blues supporters: “I always fancy us to score so I'll say we'll win 2-0 after a good all-round performance.”
Ex-Stags want to party! Sep 2 2005
By David Triggs, Chester Chronicle
SCOTT McNiven goes into tonight's clash against Mansfield with a point to prove - and he isn't the only one.
Being one of five ex-Stags in the current Chester City squad, the 27-year-old full-back is understandably relishing the chance to come face to face with his former employers.
McNiven knows City's numerous Mansfield connections are sure to give tonight's match an added edge as Chester boss Keith Curle is reunited with the club which sacked him following an internal investigation into an alleged training ground incident last season.
And McNiven, who won a brave fight against testicular cancer last year, has his own reasons for wanting to make his mark against Carlton Palmer's men.
'After what I went through last year, they (Mansfield) promised me a new deal, but they never actually came up with one,' he claimed.
'When that happened, there was nothing 100% certain about me coming to Chester so I was disappointed with how Mansfield worked with me last year. But you have to let bygones be bygones and move on and I've gone on to better things.
'Knowing the gaffer here, he always said, no matter what, that he'd be interested in taking me wherever he was going. I've got a lot of respect for him and I just wanted to play for him. He's stuck with me through good times and bad.'
McNiven added: 'Now I'm looking forward to seeing some of the Mansfield lads again and seeing the fans again. There's a few of us with a point to prove so it should be interesting.
'The Chester lads have made everyone feel welcome and you can see that in the way we are playing. There is a great team spirit at the club. Everyone wants each other to do well, whether they are in the team or not.'
IT'S ALL CHANGE FOR THE STAGS
Evening Post, 02 September 2005
Carlton Palmer said today he would love to name the same team every week. But the amount of football his youngsters have played in recent weeks means they have to rest.
And there may be changes as Palmer goes into tonight's showdown with Chester City, when they will be looking to put Monday's 3-2 defeat against leaders Notts County behind them.
Changes are expected again. Chris Beardsley has broken his leg and Adam Birchall is off on international duty with Wales.
Palmer said: "If I had my way, I would play the same 11 all the time but with young lads you just cannot do that.
"They had three games in the first week of the season, when a couple of them were away on international duty, and then they had to play Stoke and go to extra-time. I had to make changes."
Palmer said the fact his team have conceded eight of their nine goals from set-plays highlights where the problems are.
But they are determined to learn from their mistakes, which he believes are inevitable in a young team.
Stags were caught by two goals in the last eight minutes against the Magpies after it seemed they were on course to beat Notts for the fourth consecutive game.
Palmer said: "I thought we did really well on Monday and we were the better side but we were undone by set-pieces.
"They had run out of ideas before then.
"But the simple fact is that if we hadn't conceded goals from set-pieces, we would now be in the top three. That's the situation.
"We are a young and inexperienced side and we are going to make mistakes so all we can do is look to get that right on the training ground.
"I don't believe we are off track at all.
"We have not got the points and there is no argument about that.
"Only one team has scored more goals than we have. (correction by Martin - three: Darlington, Wycombe and Rochdale).
"But eight of the nine goals we have let in have come from restarts."
The game will see Keith Curle lock horns with the Stags for the first time since he was dismissed in November.
But Palmer, who took over on a caretaker basis while an internal investigation was conducted at Field Mill, is not interested in the politics behind the scenes.
"All I want to do is get on with a the game of football," he said. "I am not interested in that at all."
Former Stags manager Keith Curle said his focus was on his Chester City side's performance tonight rather than past history between him and the Field Mill club.
Curle was dismissed after an internal disciplinary inquiry at Mansfield in November and is pursuing action in the High Court over his alleged unfair dismissal. He said: "I left Mansfield in acrimonious circumstances but, as I said in my interview for the Chester job, I don't carry any baggage around with me.
"I'm still awaiting a date for a court hearing against Mansfield following my sacking, but I'm going to leave that in the hands of the barristers.
"Tonight is about a football match and I'm going to focus on that.
"I know most people will think the match will have an edge to it, but I'm bigger than that. The only important thing to me is that my players are mentally and physically fit for the game."
Former Stags men Scott McNiven, Dave Artell, Tom Curtis and Luke Dimech are all included in Chester's squad.
Keith Curle was today masterminding the downfall of his former club. The Chester City boss will oppose a number of familiar faces when the Blues entertain Mansfield Town tonight. But Curle admitted his focus was on the match rather than past history between him and the Field Mill club.
Curle told the Chester Evening Leader today: “I left Mansfield in acrimonious circumstances but, as I said in my interview for the Chester job, I don't carry any baggage around with me. I'm still awaiting a date for an unfair dismissal court hearing against Mansfield following my sacking, but as far as I'm concerned I'm going to leave that in the hands of the barristers. Tomorrow night is about a football match and I'm going to focus on that.
“I know most people will think the match will have an edge to it because it is against my former club, but I'm bigger than that. The only important thing to me is that my players are mentally and physically fit for the game.”
Curle will be determined to see his team making an impression against Mansfield and extend the Blues unbeaten start to their League Two campaign.
He added: “We've had a pleasing start to the season, but that's now history. We have to start moving on. I believe we can get six points from our next two home games.
“I didn't bring players to Chester because they were ex-Mansfield players. I know what they can do and I want to see their football doing the talking. They are all good players and I brought them to Chester to be part of a side that will finish in the top six of this division – that is the target we have set ourselves. The ex-Mansfield players will be motivated individuals going into tomorrow night's match and I know they were looking forward to the fixture as soon as the fixtures were released. There is a lot of excited anticipation, but the players who were at Mansfield have nothing to prove as far as I am concerned.”
Curle will be expected to name Dave Artell, Luke Dimech, Scott McNiven, and Tom Curtis in his squad who were all signed from Mansfield during the close season. But Curle revealed he wouldn't be fooled by the poor start Mansfield have experienced to their season.
He added: “I had Mansfield watched in every one of their home games this season and one away game. They normally start games well and I won't be fooled by their league position. They have had a big change round in personnel and now have a mix of experience and youth players in their squad. I know that if we allow Mansfield to play they will hurt us so we must be prepared to work hard.”
Curle earmarked Jake Buxton as a dangerman from setplays and the City boss gave special mentions to defender/midfielder John Baptiste and midfielder Simon Brown.
Latest | September 2005