The fortunes of the two sides promoted from Ladbrokes League 2 last term could hardly be more different. While Forfar Athletic sit at the bottom of the League 1 table, Arbroath are up in joint-second, on the back of two outstanding displays.
However, the coming weeks will be a test of the Red Lichties’ mettle. Dick Campbell’s men face three of the top five in the next five games. That includes away trips to Raith Rovers and East Fife, as well as the visit of Ayr United.
But despite a tough run of fixtures awaiting them, there’s plenty of evidence the Angus club can boost their promotion push. Here’s why…
They’re not just beating sides, they’re demolishing them
In the last two games alone, Arbroath’s stats have been a sight to behold.
Their 6-2 defeat of Stranraer on Saturday meant Cambell’s men were the first side to rack up six goals against the Blues in 71 games. Even more impressive was the fact they did so at Stair Park – the only visitors to hit a half-dozen here since the end of 2012.
The weekend before that saw a similarly imperious away win. The visitors chalked up a 5-0 victory over Forfar, the Loons’ joint-heaviest league defeat in the past decade.
Neither scoreline has flattered the visitors, who dominated in every area from possession to shots on and off target and corners, in each game.
Campbell has built a superb midfield unit
Despite winning League 2 last season, Arbroath weren’t the division’s highest scorers – chalking up 63 goals over the course of the campaign. However, despite the step up, they look set to beat that this term, with 16 in the past five league outings.
That’s largely been thanks to the club’s midfield strength. Newboy Danny Denholm has left opponents in knots with his skill, as well as chalking up an impressive six goals in all competitions.
Elsewhere, Ryan McCord is in utterly sensational form, bagging five goals in his last two games from central midfield. The likes of Omar Kader and Blair Yule have backed that up with their classy play.
Admittedly they’re not the division’s stingiest side when it comes to conceding goals, but with so much skill and goalscoring threat in the middle of the park. However, that’s hardly a huge issue when your midfielders are bagging a hat-trick away from home.
Campbell boasts an incredible track record
Since taking the reins at Brechin City in 2000, the current Arbroath boss has recorded five promotions in the SPFL – three of them from this level.
Admittedly, winning successive promotions with the Red Lichties is a big ask, but that’s exactly what the 63-year-old managed at Glebe Park, with comparatively limited resources and a weaker squad.
Even better for fans of the Gayfield club, he’s already led this side to one promotion. Both the boss and his charges know exactly how to handle high-pressure situations, having clinched the league title on the final day of last season against Stirling Albion.
The likes of Ayr United and Raith Rovers may have bigger budgets and – on paper – the division’s strongest squads, but neither possess a manager with Campbell’s record, or a group of players who know how to secure promotion under pressure.
As it stands, Arbroath are 14/1 to win the League 1 title this term. That’s a big ask, but based on present form, they could well mount a surprise challenge.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing