Stuart Watson’s Sunday Verdict: Forget about form – Ipswich Town can beat Norwich City
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Consider this an East Anglian derby rallying cry.
Ipswich Town host bitter rivals Norwich City at Portman Road this Sunday lunchtime. Can they beat the Canaries for the first time since 2009? You bet they can.
This is probably not the comment you were expecting after the Blues were defeated 1-0 at Sheffield United on Saturday. After winning their first five games of the season in all competitions, Mick McCarthy’s men have now lost six of their last eight. Renewed hope, followed by the sense of another false dawn.
The average position of the six teams beaten so far is 20th. The average position of the five teams they’ve been beaten by is seventh. Too good to go down, nowhere near good enough to go up. Sixteen years in the second-tier and treading water as others go through cycles of agony and ecstasy around them. Welcome to the Championship, also known as ‘Ipswich Town and friends’.
Sunday’s visitors aren’t friends though. They’re enemies. And there is a score to settle.
Suppress all feelings of anxiety and apathy. Nurture a sense of anticipation and passion. Form, as they say, does go out the window on derby day.
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The Canaries will be feeling pretty chirpy. They’re unbeaten in eight now following their last-gasp equaliser against Hull at Carrow Road on Saturday. They’ve conceded just three goals in that spell.
They are not a side to fear though. The gap in quality between the squads has undoubtedly narrowed since those play-off clashes two years ago.
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Alex Tettey, Alex Pritchard, Marley Watkins and Steve Naismith are among their key absentees. Their build-up play, from all reports, is slow. Many of their German imports will be sampling this fixture for the first time.
Following two 1-1 draws in this fixture last season, Town can restore bragging rights and reignite the feelgood factor.
Firepower is often the difference on frenetic occasions. The Blues will have that if Bersant Celina, David McGoldrick, Martyn Waghorn and – if fit – fiery front man Joe Garner are all unleashed. The latter could certainly ruffle a few Canary feathers.
Please Mick, throw caution to the wind for this one. Attack is the best form of defence.