MATCH PREVIEW: Ipswich Town know a top-six finish is now in their own hands, but Watford won’t have given up on the play-offs following Good Friday results

Ipswich Town

Ipswich Town - Credit: Archant

Watford v Ipswich: Ipswich Town head into this afternoon’s match at Watford knowing that a top-six finish is now in their own hands following a very Good Friday.

Overview

Ipswich Town head into this afternoon’s match at Watford knowing that a top-six finish is now in their own hands following a very Good Friday.

Yesterday saw Bournemouth lose 4-2 at home to 10-man Sheffield Wednesday, Reading thrashed 3-0 at Wigan and Brighton held to a 1-1 draw at Huddersfield.

Four wins from the final four matches would therefore guarantee Mick McCarthy’s men a place in the play-offs, though there are likely to be plenty more twists and turns to come.


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Today’s opponents may be 13th in the table, but should they win both their games in hand then they would be right back in the top-six mix. Undefeated at Vicarage Road since January 11, Bepe Sannino’s men will have also been bouyed by results elsewhere.

Town host Bournemouth on Easter Monday, then travel to second-place Burnley before finishing the campaign with the visit of mid-table Sheffield Wednesday.

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Quotes

Mick McCarthy, Ipswich Town manager

On a busy Easter schedule: “Two games in three days is just what we need at this stage of the season. Bournemouth will have had an extra day’s rest than us on Monday. It’s slightly unfair, actually. We’ve coped with it all along though and we’ll cope with it again

On how many points will be required to finish in the top six: “I don’t know, I haven’t got a clue. We could go to Watford and get beat, everything would be doom and gloom, then win the last three and be back in it. I just do not know. I don’t look at everybody’s fixtures. You get twisted doing that.”

On Watford: “They’re going well. They’ve had some good results since the new manager came in. They play 3-5-2 well. It will be a hard game; a full house, apparently.

“I don’t know if they can get in the play-offs. I don’t look beneath us, I look above.”

Beppe Sannino, Watford manager

On Ipswich: “Mick McCarthy was very kind to me on my debut in English football. Ipswich have good qualities, the table tells me this and they’re on a good run.”

On top-six hopes: “The table is saying we are still in contention for the play-offs, so while we have this chance we will fight and approach the game in the right manner.

“All matches are difficult – our target is to get the maximum from the next five games. Mathematics give us the possibility, we must try to do it.”

Stats

– Ipswich have won just one of their last 18 games against Watford. The 1-0 victory at Vicarage Road in August 2012 came courtesy of Michael Chopra’s last-gasp goal.

– Watford have conceded 10 goals in the last minute or later this season, those lapses costing them nine points.

– Sannino’s men would be second in the table had matches finished at half-time.

– Ipswich have dropped 28 points from winning positions this season (only Blackpool and Yeovil have a worse record), but have claimed 18 points from losing positions (only Leicester, Wigan and Derby can better that).

– Only Leicester, Derby and Nottingham Forest have scored more home goals in the Championship than Watford (35) this season.

Form

WATFORD

Sat Apr 12: D 2-2 (a) Millwall

Tues Apr 8: W 3-0 (h) Leeds

Sat Apr 5: D 1-1 (h) Burnley

Sat Mar 29: W 4-1 (a) Sheff Wed

Tues Mar 25: D 3-3 (h) Blackburn

IPSWICH TOWN

Sat Apr 12: W 2-1 (h) Derby

Tues Apr 8: D 1-1 (h) Nottm Forest

Sat Apr 5: L 2-0 (a) Blackburn

Sat Mar 29: W 2-0 (a) Huddersfield

Tues Mar 25: W 2-1 (h) Doncaster

Likely line-ups

Watford (3-5-2)

1 Manuel Almunia

12 Lloyd Doyley

6 Joel Ekstrand

4 Gabriele Angella

21 Ikechi Anya

19 Marco Faraoni

27 Marco Cassetti

28 Daniel Tozser

22 Almen Abdi

10 Lewis McGugan

9 Troy Deeney

Ipswich Town (4-4-1-1)

22 Dean Gerken

4 Luke Chambers

6 Christophe Berra

5 Tommy Smith

3 Aaron Cresswell

11 Paul Anderson

8 Cole Skuse

19 Luke Hyam

12 Stephen Hunt

25 Jonny Williams

9 Daryl Murphy

Team news

WATFORD

– Key duo Lloyd Doyley and Christian Battocchio could return to action following injury.

– Defender Marco Cassetti serves the final match of a two-game suspension.

– Winger Ikechi Anya is a doubt (Achilles).

– Loanee Arsenal striker Chu-Young Park is out for the season (toe).

IPSWICH TOWN

– Aaron Cresswell was rested last weekend due to a tight groin, but will go straight back into the side at the expense of Tyrone Mings – despite the latter having helped create both goals in the 2-1 home win over Doncaster.

Asked if Mings had made it hard to drop him, Blues boss McCarthy said: “Yeah, but I will. I’ve said on numerous occasions how pleased I am with Ty, but Cressy is arguably the best left-back in the division.”

– Centre-back Tommy Smith (sore calf) and winger Paul Anderson (tight hamstring) haven’t trained fully this week, but are expected to play.

– Striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake has suffered another injury set-back (hamstring). McCarthy has recalled teenager Jack Marriott from his loan spell at Skrill Premier side Woking as a result.

– Top-scorer David McGoldrick will not play again this campaign after suffering a set-back in his recovery from the cruciate knee injury sustained in February.

Head-to-head

Only Ross McCormack and Jordan Rhodes have scored more Championship goals than Watford striker Troy Deeney this season.

The 25-year-old has already surpassed the 20 he netted during the Hornets’ run to the Play-Off Final in 2012/13, his goal in the recent 3-0 home win over Leeds taking him to 21 league strikes for the campaign.

And it’s at Vicarage Road where the front man has been most deadly of late, having scored in his last eight consecutive home outings.

He won’t be given an easy ride by Ipswich’s recently crowned Supporters’ Player of the Year, Christophe Berra, though.

The Scottish centre-back has been in imperious form and must go down as one of the best free transfer additions of the season. Will make his 40th consecutive start today.

Last meeting

Ipswich Town 1 Watford 1

Ipswich Town missed a golden opportunity to secure their first home win against Watford since 2004 in an instantly forgettable 1-1 draw last December.

In a dire match short on goalmouth action, the Blues broke the deadlock when David McGoldrick scored from a hotly-disputed penalty (73). Troy Deeney slid in to convert Marco Cassetti’s deflected low cross to level things up (81), with Luke Hyam heading against the crossbar as the goal gaped at the death.

Prediction

Watford 1 Ipswich 2

Watford have scored 22 goals in their last nine games and have not drawn a blank at Vicarage Road since January 11. Bepe Sannino has given the Hornets their sting back, but nine points dropped courtesy of last-gasp goals has seriously dented their top-six hopes.

There will be times when Ipswich have to ride the storm, but if Mick McCarthy’s men – set to be roared on by another superb away following – can get to the latter stages on level terms then you wouldn’t bet against them snatching it.

Live updates

Follow @Stuart_Watson on twitter for live match updates. Team news, report and reaction to appear on this website.

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