Ipswich Town SWOT analysis: The Threats which could derail the Blues’ promotion charge

Ipswich Town captain Luke Chambers responded well to his mistake against Sunderland. Picture: STEVE

Ipswich Town captain Luke Chambers responded well to his mistake against Sunderland. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Archant

This week we are analysing Ipswich Town’s start to the League One season which sees them top the table at the quarter mark. Next up ANDY WARREN looks at the potential threats ahead for the Blues.

Ipswich Town are top of League One and remain unbeaten at the quarter mark of the season.

This week we'll be looking at the Blues' start to the campaign, putting them through a SWOT analysis to assess the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of Paul Lambert's men.

First up we looked at the Blues' strengths before a view on potential weaknesses and opportunities.

Here, we analyse potential threats which lie ahead.

Skipper Luke Chambers with his hands on his hips after a mistake lead to Sunderland's equaliser in t

Skipper Luke Chambers with his hands on his hips after a mistake lead to Sunderland's equaliser in the 1-1 draw. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Dealing with a setback

Ipswich Town are unbeaten in 11 games and sit atop the League One pile.

But how will Paul Lambert's men deal with defeat or further on-field set-backs? Will they get straight back on the horse and put things right quickly or could a loss shake confidence and throw an element of doubt into the mix?

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A loss will surely come at some point so it will be fascinating to see how Lambert's men respond.

Ipswich celebrate after Luke Chambers scores a last gasp equaliser at Peterborough Picture Pagepix L

Ipswich celebrate after Luke Chambers scores a last gasp equaliser at Peterborough Picture Pagepix Ltd - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

We do have evidence to suggest they will be ok, though.

Luke Chambers' mistake in the game with Sunderland could have shaken the Town captain but he and his side responded to that set-back with a gutsy stoppage-time equaliser to draw at Peterborough just a week later.

Ipswich responded to their worst half of the season, after which they trailed 1-0 to AFC Wimbledon, by scoring twice late on to secure a 2-1 victory.

The signs are good, but responding to a league defeat will be a different test.

Kayden Jackson wheels away after scoring the late winner for Ipswich Town against AFC Wimbledon. Pic

Kayden Jackson wheels away after scoring the late winner for Ipswich Town against AFC Wimbledon. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Enemy on the inside

Luke Garbutt was the latest player to state his belief that Ipswich may have to be their own worst enemy if their promotion charge is to truly be derailed this season.

And you can see where he and his team-mates are coming from.

The strong start to the season has put Ipswich in a strong position, looking down on the rest of the league, and you have to believe they will be in great shape when the business end of the season arrives if they remain hard to beat and keep their standards high.

Paul Lambert's Ipswich Town are unbeaten in the league this season. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Paul Lambert's Ipswich Town are unbeaten in the league this season. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

But, let them drop, and the door could be open to threats from below.

The threat of others

After early wobbles, Peterborough are finding a rhythm while Sunderland will be looking to make progress following the appointment of Phil Parkinson.

Rotherham are battle-hardened at this level and will surely come on strong under Paul Warne while Portsmouth will be expected to improve as Kenny Jackett's men find their feet following summer departures.

Sunderland have appointed Phil Parkinson as manager. Picture: PA SPORT

Sunderland have appointed Phil Parkinson as manager. Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Town's ultra-consistent start has given them a good cushion and plenty of breathing room, but it would be naïve to dismiss charges from elsewhere.

As mentioned in the 'Opportunities' section of this analysis, no side top of the table at this time has gone on to secure automatic promotion since Bristol City in 2015.

Ipswich certainly aren't home and dry.

The schedule

Ipswich Town are through to the next round of the EFL Trophy. Photo: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town are through to the next round of the EFL Trophy. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich could play as many as eight games during a 25-day spell in November as they handle the demands of league, FA Cup and EFL Trophy action. That's a game every three days for more than three weeks.

When you take travel, recovery and the demands of training into account, that's a hectic spell indeed.

Lambert has a big squad, of course, but what are the chances of the busy schedule catching up on Ipswich eventually?

History suggests it's entirely possible.

James Wilson during Ipswich Town's 1-0 win at Fleetwood Picture: ROSS HALLS

James Wilson during Ipswich Town's 1-0 win at Fleetwood Picture: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Town are already into the knockout stages of the Trophy and a prolonged run in that, as well as advances in the FA Cup and possible replays, could see Ipswich encroach on the mythical 60-game mark often used as an example by Lambert when discussing the strains on his group.

The two previous losing EFL Trophy finalists, Sunderland and Shrewsbury, played 61 and 59 respectively in years when they dropped out of the automatic promotion places late on and ultimately lost in the play-offs.

The fear, founded in reality or not, is that Ipswich could suffer the same fate.

Injury concerns

James Norwood, Flynn Downes and Kane Vincent-Young are all injury doubts heading into the weekend vi

James Norwood, Flynn Downes and Kane Vincent-Young are all injury doubts heading into the weekend visit to Accrington. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Ipswich have dealt with injuries well so far this season.

They entered the campaign with 10 on the sidelines but have negotiated that spell well, with the likes of Gwion Edwards, Jon Nolan and Alan Judge all working their way back into the fold.

Before an international-break flurry, which has seen doubts emerge over James Norwood, Kane Vincent-Young and Flynn Downes, Ipswich have stayed relatively free of new injuries aside from a knee problem which sidelined Garbutt for a month.

But it would be an ask for Ipswich to respond should they lose central figures, such as Tomas Holy, Cole Skuse, Luke Chambers and either Norwood or Kayden Jackson, for a prolonged period.

Would the 'next man up' mentality see Ipswich through or would the loss of a key man lead to a decline? Hopefully we won't need to find out.

We must also remember that Freddie Sears, Teddy Bishop and Jack Lankester are all waiting to come back, of course, while Toto Nsiala, Will Keane and Emyr Huws are still not quite at top gear.

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