Match Preview: Town head to Sunderland looking to get back to winning ways
Town head to the Stadium of Light on Saturday looking to recovering from back to back defeats against promotion rivals Rotherham and Peterborough. Paul Lambert’s men have a woeful record against the top eight, drawing six and losing four, not winning any of the ten games and taking six points from a possible 30.
The previous defeats as left Town fourth in the table, sitting five points behind leaders Rotherham and two points behind second placed Wycombe Wanderers. Sunderland sit three points and three places behind Paul Lambert’s men, but due to goal difference, a win for Phil Parkinson’s side would see them jump above Paul Lambert’s men in the table.
The Blues go to the Stadium of Light top of the League One away table but face a Sunderland team who are different to crack on home turf. The Black Cats have taken 27 points out of a possible 42 available, winning seven, drawing six and lost just the once, a 1-0 defeat to Burton Albion in November.
Paul Lambert will have to make some decisions ahead of his starting eleven on Saturday. Will Norris has been the preferred choice of late in between the sticks but after last weeks latest howler, surely Tomas Holy will regain his place in the team.
Lambert looks set to continue with a back three and not switch to a more traditional back four, despite being without Luke Garbutt and Gwion Edwards. That would see Luke Chambers and Luke Woolfenden continue as outside centre backs, with James Wilson central. Myles Kenlock and Janoi Donacien will then operate as wing-backs.
Emyr Huws looks set to return to the side, probably replacing Cole Skuse to partner Flynn Downes in the centre of midfield. Alan Judge will continue to operate in the advanced midfielder role.
In attack, James Norwood will be looking to start after impressing as a substitute again against Peterborough. If Norwood is going to return, he will almost certainly partner Kayden Jackson, replacing Will Keane.
Jon Nolan might miss the match with his wife giving birth this week. Teddy Bishop will be joining Gwion Edwards and Luke Garbutt in the stands at the Stadium of Light, but Josh Earl looks set to return to the match day squad.
Town boss Paul Lambert is looking forward Town’s trip to Sunderland and believes there will be as more pressure on the home side to perform: “It’s a great place to play football. If you can’t play there you can’t play anywhere,” the Town boss told iFollow Ipswich.
“The pressure is on Sunderland because they are the home team and with the expectations they have being a big club but there is no divine right for Sunderland or ourselves to win the league.
“Sunderland are in this league for the second year. It’s hard. It’s anyone’s league at the moment and we will go up there and give it a real go.
“It’s a chance for us to bounce back after last week. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong against Peterborough. That performance wasn’t acceptable but Saturday is another game, another opportunity.
“We have injuries and Gwion [Edwards] is suspended so there will be changes but I’ll look to freshen it up anyway.”
Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson will be looking for a reaction following his sides’ defeat at Portsmouth last weekend, their first defeat in ten league outings.
“Every game is huge from here on in and we need to be excited by that prospect,” Parkinson told Chronicle Live.
“Ipswich started the season great but then had an indifferent run. Recently they have been up and down.
“They will be three at the back and we know they are a very competitive team.
“First of all, with games coming thick and fast, that is why we recruited players. If we take points off those around us that will be really important.
“The recent run means we’ve got ourselves back into the pack. We’ve got ourselves into a position where we can challenge, and that’s where we wanted to be. Now, it’s time to take a deep breath, which we’ve been able to do this week with a free week, assess everything and get ready for the challenge which lies ahead, because it’s an exciting one.”
Back in August, Town and Sunderland shared a 1-1 draw at Portman Road. Luke Garbutt gave Town a well deserved lead at the break, after the break a Luke Chambers mistake resulted in Lynden Gooch equalising for the Black Cats.
Historically, Ipswich have had the better of the clashes with Sunderland, winning 23, drawing eight and losing 20 of the previous meetings. The last time Sunderland beat Town was back in January 2007, when a first-half David Connolly goal was enough to seal the three points.
Man in the Middle
Saturday’s referee is Jeremy Simpson, who has shown 63 yellow cards and six red in 19 games so far this season.
Simpson’s last Town match was the 1-1 home draw with Birmingham in April which confirmed our relegation to League One. Simpson booked Chambers, Edwards, James Collins, Toto Nsiala and one Birmingham City player.