Bore draw unlikely as Ipswich Town travel to Wolves
Ipswich Town travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers tonight, aiming to secure their first away points of the season, following Saturday’s 2-0 reverse at Brentford.
A lot has changed since Wolves and Ipswich Town limped to a dour 0-0 draw at Molineux back in April.
Former Wolves boss Mick McCarthy returns to his old stomping ground this evening, determined for Ipswich to be more pleasing on the eye, although not to the detriment of his team’s ‘goals against’ column.
The Blues scored just 53 goals in 46 games last season and April’s draw was one of 15 occasions that Town failed to hit the net in a league game.
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As a result, McCarthy dipped into the transfer market this summer and brought in Grant Ward, who made an immediate impact, scoring a hat-trick on his debut, in the opening day 4-2 home victory against Barnsley.
Conor Grant, who will miss out tonight through injury, has added width and creativity to the side, while Teddy Bishop, who was so painfully missed last season, has the hopes of many an Ipswich fan pinned on his shoulders, despite his tender years.
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Then there’s Adam Webster, a ball-playing centre-back, brought in by McCarthy, who is keen for his team to be more thoughtful in possession this season.
Webster’s defensive qualities have yet to fully come to the fore – he was arguably at fault for Brentford’s opener in the 2-0 defeat – and alongside Christophe Berra, is still getting to grips with the rigours of the Championship.
That could benefit Wolves whose goalless point at home to Town in April was the second of four in succession for the Black Country outfit.
Six of that Wolves 11 are likely to start tonight, but it’s amazing what a big-money takeover, a new foreign coach and a sprinkling of exotic continental signings can do to a club and the feelgood factor of its fanbase.
Suddenly the shackles are off at Molineux, the takeover by Chinese consortium Fosun, heralding the appointment of much-travelled coach Walter Zenga and the arrival of Icelandic striker Jon-Dadi Bodvarsson (undisclosed fee), Portuguese wing wizard Joao Teixeira (season-long loan) and fellow Benfica loanee, Helder Costa.
A fightback from two goals down on the opening day at Rotherham saw Bodvarsson score a debut goal and Wolves salvage a 2-2 draw from South Yorkshire. After victory over Crawley in the EFL Cup, they followed that up on Saturday with an impressive 2-0 victory over Reading at home.
Add to that the impending arrival of Congo defensive midfielder Prince Oniangue and the continued speculation that sees £20m-rated Brazilian forward Anderson Talisca linked with a move, and things are suddenly looking up for the former Premier League side.
Saturday’s victory saw visitors Reading enjoy the lion’s share of the possession only to be forced into submission by a relentless home side that pressed high up the field and forced mistakes in the Royals’ final third.
Teixeira received a standing ovation when being substituted, the winger already has two assists for his new club and, but for Ali al-Habsi in the Reading goal, the score could have been even more impressive.
Zenga has his players working seven-day weeks at the moment, clearly keen for their fitness to come to the fore in games, although it remains to be seen if his side – if unchanged tonight – will feel the affects of Saturday’s rigours.
McCarthy has done his homework on Wolves and no-one would like to burst the Molineux bubble more, despite him showing no bitterness towards the club who sacked him in 2012.
And you wouldn’t bet against Town getting something from the Black Country, given their form in upsetting the odds in the past (Burnley, Derby and Middlesbrough away last season), but in order to do that, they must improve defensively – the four goals conceded so far this season, have, in two instances, shown that the set-piece Achilles heel that dogged Town last season has not been eradicated.
Adam Webster should remain in the side alongside Christophe Berra. Further forward, there could be a recall for Teddy Bishop, especially with Conor Grant missing, while Jonathan Douglas could be added to the midfield should McCarthy aim to stifle the hosts.
There are no injury worries for Wolves coach Walter Zenga, so it remains to be seen if he makes any changes from Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Reading.
The Italian’s preference for a high pressing game could see one or two fresh pairs of legs introduced.
Conor Grant suffered a tight groin in training yesterday and will not play tonight. Brett Pitman also miss out with a thigh injury, but could return to the derby clash with Norwich on Saturday.
Luke Hyam (knee) will be out for at least another three weeks, while David McGoldrick (ankle ligaments) will wear a protective boot for the next three to four weeks, before he starts his rehabilitation. He is expected to be out for between eight to 10 weeks.
n Luke Varney could be in the Town 18 for the first time tonight. after re-signing as a free agent last week.