Ipswich away is the textbook definition of a Championship fixture. On Friday night, two sides with great histories and support faced off in front of 52,000. This should be a premier league fixture, but for the historic terrible mismanagement of both sides. Ipswich however is a far more humbling trip. Nothing glamorous about it, traipsing down to the edge of nowhere on a Monday afternoon. These are the sort of games we’ll be glad to see the back of when we go up.
These lot are currently the longest serving side of the English second Division. Since 2003 they have traveled the country for 46 game seasons, playing everyone from us and the mackems to Crewe Alexandra and Luton Town. After 14 seasons they are set for yet another mid-table finish with no sign of getting out of this league at either the top or the bottom. A stark reminder of how this division can suck the life out of you. We just have to get out of it, that’s the job this season and it’s nearly done.
Had we won on Friday, and we absolutely deserved it, we could have been talking about travelling back from Suffolk with
promotion guaranteed. Alas, two comedy late goals for both West Yorkshire clubs on Friday has kept thing interesting for another week or so at least. Still, we’re 8 points clear (which is basically 9 with goal difference). To suggest any pressure has been added to this game is silly. It’s actually a really nice fixture for the best away team in the league to have to get us one step closer to the end goal.
Ipswich have been the divisions most inconsistent team this season. They don’t score many goals and they love a draw. In fact they’ve drawn 6 of their last 10, 3 of which were goalless. All we really need to do is score a goal and we should be able to see this one off. A goal after 60 seconds again would be nice!
It was really refreshing to see Isaac Hayden back in the side on Friday night. I thought he was excellent and looks like we’ve nursed him back to full fitness. How many manager pre-Rafa would have rushed him back at the risk of further injury? Looks like he’s got this one spot on and think Hayden will make a big contribution to the last few games of this season. Two in three days might be a bit much though and Colback may well be back in for this one. Before anybody panics, he played the whole game in October at St James’ when we beat these 3-0.
The Serbian lunatic had a decent game for us on Friday, got stuck in, held up the ball and won some big headers. I don’t think this was the performance of an international striker though. Once again he had no real shots on goal. As I said above, we just need to score here and Mitro doesn’t give us the best chance of doing this. Rafa will likely pick Murphy for this reason as he has proven his ability to get goals when we need them. Against his old side as well, he’ll be up for it.
The rest of the team will remain largely unchanged I’d imagine. It’s good to have Yedlin back as an option at right back. I thought Gouff was really good on Friday. When he gets forward and involved he’s far more effective than Atsu, he just needs to do it more. Perez is another guilty of wasting chances but he scored twice against these last time out. Alas, away from home he’s been largely hopeless and Diamé should get the nod at number 10 for me. Perez can still provide a good option off the bench (See Brighton away)
In any case, I can’t see us coming away from this one without a win. We’ve managed well without Gayle at times this season and we have pretty much everyone else fit. We are just a much better side than Ipswich and with everything still to play for whilst they have nothing. For once, it really should just be an easy three points.
SIMON CAMPBELL – Follow Simon @simoncampbell11
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