Four games to shape a season? Tough run coming up for Blues... so how will they fare?
After two weeks without a game, Ipswich Town return to action after the international break with a daunting run of four matches in just 11 days. Andy Warren breaks down what’s to come during a vital period on the field.
Hull City v Ipswich Town - November 18
The newly-relegated Tigers have not enjoyed their return to the second tier and head into the international break sitting 20th on a run of three-straight defeats.
That run has led to manager Leonid Slutsky to question the mentality of his players and also suggest he wouldn’t be surprised if the club’s owners were considering sacking him.
Not a good sign at all.
All this means things at Hull are not particularly stable, with a lack of cohesion at the back, confused team selection and a negative approach all pinpointed as issues.
They will also be without central striker Fraizer Campbell for the clash with Ipswich after he picked up his fifth booking of the season, meaning the Blues will be left to cope with Nouha Dicko, who has just one league goal to his name this season.
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As long as Mick McCarthy can send out an experienced midfield, with the potential of a return for Emyr Huws, there is no reason the Blues can’t come away with a win from a ground where they tasted victory just once in eight previous visits.
Prediction: Hull City 0-1 Ipswich Town
Ipswich Town v Sheffield Wednesday - November 22
There is something fitting about playing the blue half of Sheffield on a Wednesday. The last time that happened, David Hirst scored the only goal as the Owls claimed a 1-0 Premiership victory at Portman Road in March 1993.
These days Carlos Carvalhal has a daunting group of strikers at his disposal, even though Fernando Forestieri has been sidelined by a knee injury and is still a few weeks away from fitness.
The group of Gary Hooper, Steven Fletcher, Lucas Joao and, perhaps most notably, Jordan Rhodes, have only scored a combined 12 league goals between but can, on their day, pop up in any situatuion. Ipswich fans know all about Rhodes, of course.
Behind them there are also a string of midfield players looking to make their mark for the Owls, with Kieran Lee, Ross Wallace and George Boyd all players to have caused the Blues problems in the past.
A difficult game in front of the Sky cameras for sure - a spotlight the Blues have not exactly thrived under in recent years.
Prediction: Ipswich Town 2-2 Sheffield Wednesday
Aston Villa v Ipswich Town - November 25
It’s then on to Villa Park, where the Blues emerged victorious last season thanks to a dramatic Huws winner.
This time they will be facing a very different proposition, with Steve Bruce’s side now competing at the top end of the Championship table having occupied the middle ground when they met last February.
But they are now without captain John Terry, who has been ruled out until after Christmas with a foot injury, with the former England and Chelsea skipper having helped his new side become one of the best defensive units in the division.
They lost their last game at home to Sheffield Wednesday and will have faced a tough trip to Queens Park Rangers and a home game with Sunderland prior to hosting the Blues, during which they hope to welcome back last season’s top scorer Jonathan Kodjia.
He’s a dangerous customer, as the Blues discovered during his Bristol City days, with Villa hoping he will pick up the slack given they don’t possess a player with more than five goals to his name this season.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-0 Ipswich Town
Derby County v Ipswich Town - November 28
This one is the Blues’ much-discussed game in hand, which is only of benefit if you are able to come away from it with points.
But this is a place Ipswich travel to exceptionally well, with the Blues unbeaten on their last nine visits, during a timespan which will be just a day shy of 11 years when they take to the field for the final game of November.
The Rams are a puzzling team at times, with the significant investment of the last few years not yet resulting in a return to the Premier League. At present they are just a point and a place above the Blues in seventh, having proved something of a streaky side so far this season.
They won three straight games in August before winning just one of their next eight, with a run of four-straight wins then followed by a 4-2 loss at home to Reading. They face Fulham and QPR before welcoming the Blues.
They possess players well known to the Blues, in the form of ex-Norwich man Bradley Johnson, long-time nemesis David Nugent and former star loanee Tom Lawrence, so it feels inevitible at least one will find the net. But the Blues hold no fear of the iPro and should be good value to come home with something.
Prediction: Derby County 1-1 Ipswich Town
PREDICTED TOTAL: Five points from a possible 12