Big match preview: Ipswich Town v Fulham – everything you need to know
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town are looking to make history when they host Fulham in a Championship fixture today. STUART WATSON previews the game.
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy hopes Fulham are still reeling from the body blow of missing out on promotion.
The Cottagers, now in their fourth year outside of the Premier League, finished last season in scintillating form before narrowly losing to Reading in the play-off semi-finals.
Slavisa Jokanovic’s men are yet to register a Championship victory at the start of this campaign, drawing against Norwich, Reading and Leeds, losing 1-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday last weekend before going out of the Carabao Cup at home to League One side Bristol Rovers in midweek (1-0 aet).
“They absolutely bashed us here on Boxing Day,” said McCarthy, recalling his side’s 2-0 defeat to the West London outfit at the end of 2016. “Their midfield of (Tom) Cairney, (Kevin) McDonald and (Stefan) Johansen absolutely murdered us. That was one of our most inept displays and wasn’t like us over the last few years.
“Away from home we played a lot better, but they still beat us 3-1. They were one of the best teams in the league. They were a really top team.
“Are they suffering from a play-off hangover? I sincerely hope so and I hope it’s still hanging on to them when they come here on Saturday. It does have an affect when you get to the play-offs and you don’t win them. That’s a real body blow.”
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Town, meanwhile, have done the opposite. Following a 2016/17 season to forget, McCarthy’s men have got off to a flier. New signings Joe Garner and Martyn Waghorn have hit the ground running, teenagers Flynn Downes and Tristan Nydam have had exciting breakthroughs and today the Blues could become the first team in the club’s professional history to win their opening five league games.
“Fulham were definitely the best team we played last year,” said Blues striker Freddie Sears. “Here they played us off the pitch and we couldn’t get near them.
“Maybe there is a bit more pressure on them now. Last year I don’t think many were expecting them to be top six, but now everyone knows what a good side they are. It could be a good time to face them.”
He added: “It will be pretty similar to the Brentford game last weekend (2-0 home win) where we might not have much of the ball and look to catch them on the break.”
IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): Bialkowski; Iorfa, Spence, Knudsen, Kenlock; Ward, Skuse; Waghorn, McGoldrick, Sears; Garner.
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Button; Fredericks, Kalas, Ream, Odoi; McDonald, Johansen; Aluko, Cairney, Sessegnon; Fonte.
Ipswich Town team news
• Mick McCarthy is likely to name the team which started last Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Brentford having rested all of his senior players for Tuesday night’s 2-1 Carabao Cup defeat at Premier League side Crystal Palace. • With all three senior centre-backs injured, Town will once again name four full-backs – Dominic Iorfa, Jordan Spence, Jonas Knudsen and Myles Kenlock – in a makeshift defence. • Cole Skuse has been ill this week and Grant Ward had a kick to the calf last weekend, but the midfield duo are both are expected to be fit. • Striker David McGoldrick could be unavailable if his wife goes into labour.
Fulham team news
• Teenage left-back Ryan Sessegnon is playing in a more advanced role after Chelsea loanee Lucas Piazon broke his leg in the goalless draw at Leeds. • Key midfield duo Tom Cairney and Kevin McDonald are still getting up to speed after missing much of pre-season with injuries. • Slavisa Jokanovic also changed his entire starting XI for the Carabao Cup in midweek. The Cottagers’ second string produced a limp home display, losing 1-0 after extra-time to League One side Bristol Rovers.
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy: “Sometimes lots of injuries can make you very close-knit. When it’s the same team that’s playing and you keep winning it’s great, because confidence is high and they are all working for each other.
“But if you start losing and only have 10 to call upon then it can quickly go pear-shaped. I hope we can come back after the international break with a few more options.”
Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic: “Our lack of goals is a worry. We have been the better team but can’t put the ball in the net. We are missing a little bit of speed with the ball. That would make a difference and it’s something we must work on.”
81 – Ipswich have never won their opening five league games in the club’s 81-year pro history
66% – Town’s conversion rate of shots on target this season (12 from 18)
1 – Away league defeat in 10 for Fulham (W6 D3)
January 2015 – Last time Fulham failed to score in three straight games
Fulham 3 Ipswich Town 1
Date: Saturday, April 8
The slick hosts led through goals from Floyd Ayite and Scott Malone, but then rode their luck before Stefan Johansen scored a killer third. Christophe Berra headed in a late consolation. Town were passed off the park in the reverse fixture, Fulham winning 2-0 on Boxing Day.
Key opposition man
Tom Cairney The central playmaker was the beating heart of the slick Cottagers last season and named EFL Player of the Year. He’s carrying a knee injury and struggled to rediscover such form so far.
Ipswich Town (34/13) Draw (3/1) Fulham (6/5)
Paul Tierney (Lancashire) 16/17: Games 32, Yellows 110, Reds 5
Ipswich Town 2 Fulham 0
Fulham are not creating chances. Town look a real goal threat. Momentum is a big thing in football.