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Kings of Anglia Issue 8 Magazine Offer

Good areas, missing the target and defensive hits and misses... the stats summing up Ipswich’s start to the season

PUBLISHED: 09:34 11 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:51 11 September 2018

Paul Hurst is still awaiting his first win as Ipswich Town manager. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Paul Hurst is still awaiting his first win as Ipswich Town manager. Picture: STEVE WALLER

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Ipswich Town are still looking for their first win of the season following six league games. ANDY WARREN takes a look at the stats summing up the Blues’ start.

Ipswich have drawn all three of their home games this season, including the clash with Norwich. Photo: Steve WallerIpswich have drawn all three of their home games this season, including the clash with Norwich. Photo: Steve Waller

The basics

What is clear for all to see is that Paul Hurst’s Ipswich Town have taken just three points from their opening six Championship games, are out of the Carabao Cup and have yet to secure a victory under the stewardship of their new boss.

That leaves the Blues 23rd in the still-embryonic Championship table with just five goals scored in six league matches and nine conceded. Only QPR and Birmingham have managed fewer goals.

Brentford’s Neal Maupay and Andi Weimann of Bristol City have both scored as many league goals as the Blues have managed as a team, with Gwion Edwards the only Ipswich player to have netted more than once.

Ultimately these stats are the only ones which really matter, but they certainly don’t tell the whole story of the opening month of Hurst’s reign.

MORE: ‘I think there is a lot more to come from me personally’ - Edwards on his start to life at Ipswich

Ellis Harrison is yet to open his account for the Blues. Photo: PagepixEllis Harrison is yet to open his account for the Blues. Photo: Pagepix

The final third

It’s clear the Blues need to find their teeth in front of goal if the new era at Portman Road is to really lift off.

Only five goals have been managed in six league games, but the stat sheets shows they are creating chances and simply not making anywhere near the most of them.

The Blues are averaging a little under 13 efforts on goal in each of their league outings so far – the ninth most in the Championship - an increase of nearly three on last season’s average. They out-shot their opponents in four of the six league games, being narrowly beaten in this statistic by Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday in matches Hurst’s men ended with 10 men.

The problem is Ipswich are averaging just three efforts on target per game, with only Millwall hitting the target on fewer occasions. Of the 18 efforts to have hit the target over six games, 13 have come inside the box, five from outside. Four of the five Ipswich goals have come from inside the box with the fifth coming from a Tayo Edun cross which crept all the way into the corner on the opening day against Blackburn.

Twenty of the shots which have missed the target have come from inside the box, with 14 outside.

MORE: ‘I handled it all quite poorly and wasn’t ready but I have no regrets’ - Bowditch on his football journey

Bartosz Bialkowski can only watch as his half parry of Tom Lawrence's free-kick creeps into the top corner of the goal at Derby Picture PagepixBartosz Bialkowski can only watch as his half parry of Tom Lawrence's free-kick creeps into the top corner of the goal at Derby Picture Pagepix

Defensive end

It’s clear where Ipswich Town’s Achilles heel lies – defending set pieces.

Six of the nine goals conceded in the Championship have come from free-kicks and corners, with Exeter’s goal in the Carabao Cup also coming from a free-kick.

No side have conceded more from set pieces, while only Leeds and Nottingham Forest have allowed fewer goals from open play than the Blues.

The latter part of that shows they are not being ripped apart. Far from it - the stats back up what the eye sees when it comes to a side which appears solid defensively but with one area of real weakness.

Ipswich allow 10 shots per game on average, with only Brentford conceding fewer, and allow less than three shots on target per game on average.

Easy to say, hard to do, but sure up the line at set pieces and the Blues will have a good defensive base to work from.

MORE: Big interview: George Burley on Paul Hurst, Sir Bobby Robson, George Best and his 1,000 games as player and manager of Town

Jon Nolan Ipswich Town's most accurate passer this season. Photo: Steve WallerJon Nolan Ipswich Town's most accurate passer this season. Photo: Steve Waller

On the ball

Hurst’s men had more of the ball than their opponents in each of their opening two games, 56 per cent v Blackburn and 62 per cent at Rotherham, but conceded the bulk of the ball to their opposition in each of their last four league games. They averaged 42 per cent of possession in that run, compared to 48.6 overall (17th).

In terms of positions on the field, Ipswich spend 26 per cent of games in their own third (17th highest in the league), 45% in the middle third (tied for 4th) and 29 per cent in the final third (8th).

In terms of positions of attack, 45 per cent of the Blues’ possession comes down the right flank, where new signing Gwion Edwards is deployed. By contract, 32 per cent comes down the left, where Hurst has yet to find a real answer in terms of personnel, while 23 per cent comes down the middle and through the central striker.

Ipswich average 12 dribbles a game (16th most in Championship), with two thirds classed as ‘successful’.

They have made 2018 passes so far this season at an average of 336 a game (19th in division). In total 481 of those are classed as long with 169 of those ‘accurate’.

But it’s what they do with that possession which counts, of course. It’s already clear the Blues are not turning their time in the opposition third into goals, while no side have averaged more than the 20.3 ‘unsuccessful touches’ than the Blues have so far. They are dispossessed a little more than 10 times in a game, which puts them in the middle of the pack in this regard.

Overall they complete just 63.4 per cent of their passes, the third-worst in the division.

Town fans react after Gwion Edwards hit the crossbar against Villa. Picture: STEVE WALLERTown fans react after Gwion Edwards hit the crossbar against Villa. Picture: STEVE WALLER

More support is needed for the central striker, both from midfield and wide areas, while the Blues need to do a better job of keeping the ball.

But the stats show they are getting in the right areas, so maybe’s it a question of players gelling and learning how their team-mates playing style? That would be no surprise, given 12 new signings were brought in this summer with the majority starting.

MORE: ‘It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what our problem is’ – Chambers on set-pieces frailties and referee frustration

Luke Chambers celebrates with goalscorer Gwion Edwards after Ipswich Town took the lead against Norwich City. Photo: Steve WallerLuke Chambers celebrates with goalscorer Gwion Edwards after Ipswich Town took the lead against Norwich City. Photo: Steve Waller

Individuals

Trevoh Chalobah is the Blues’ leading passer at an average slightly under 40 a game, with a 70 per cent success rate, with Jon Nolan (77.4) Cole Skuse (71.7) and Toto Nsiala (71.4) the only players with a higher mark in terms of accuracy. Nolan is the only Ipswich player to crack the top hundred in the league in that regard.

Gwion Edwards averages the most shots (1.8 a game) and most dribbles (2.8, third most in the Championship) of any Ipswich player to have played more than three times while he is also the 11th most-dispossessed player in the league.

He averages less than a cross a game, though, with Grant Ward (2.3) topping the table there.

Jon Walters, who made his second Ipswich debut against Norwich, had three efforts on goal in that game while Edwards and Chalobah have managed 11 each in their six appearances.

Strikers Ellis Harrison and Kayden Jackson, signed in the summer, have had eight and six efforts on goal respectively with Welshman Harrison hitting the target three times and Jackson just once. Both are yet to open their Championship accounts.

Janoi Donacien (3rd) and Edwards (tied 5th) both make the top 10 in terms of tackles made per game, while Nsiala is the Blues’ top interceptor at 1.8 per game. Skuse, who led Europe in that stat last season, is 46th in the Championship at this early stage.

Nolan is the 23rd most-fouled at an average of two a game, while Edwards dishes out an average of 2.3 fouls a game to sit inside the top 10.

Skipper Luke Chambers knows the Blues must improve.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comSkipper Luke Chambers knows the Blues must improve. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

MORE: Flynn Downes arrived in Ipswich Town in tears... but now he’s one of the jewels in the Blues’ crown

The conclusion

As captain Luke Chambers said recently, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where Ipswich Town’s problems lie.

The manner in which they are conceding stands out like an unmarked attacker in the penalty area at set pieces, while they are not clinical enough in front of goal.

They are defending well, aside from set-pieces, and have a solid base without being able to give themselves an attacking platform to work from. They are playing the game in the right areas (suggesting the system itself is working) without being able to execute their plan when it really matters.

Hurst will have had two weeks with his players on the training ground when they face Hull on Saturday, where the Blues boss will again be looking for his first win as boss.

That’s the stat which really counts in all of this.

Paul Hurst is still waiting for his first win as Ipswich Town manager. Photo: Steve WallerPaul Hurst is still waiting for his first win as Ipswich Town manager. Photo: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town stats

Goals scored – 5 (ranked 21st in the division)

Goals conceded – 9 (8th)

Average possession – 48.6% (17th)

Av pass success percentage – 63.4% (22nd)

Av shots per game – 12.7 (9th)

Av shots on target p/g – 3 (22nd)

Av aerial duels won p/g – 35.3 (3rd)

Av tackles made p/g – 19.5 (3rd)

Av interceptions p/g – 9.2 (15th)

Av dribbles p/g – 8 (15th)

Discipline – 9 yellow & 2 red (12th)

* all stats provided by WhoScored.com

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