Ipswich Town welcome West Bromwich Albion to Portman Road for the early kick-off on Saturday, one in which will give us plenty of pointers for the rest of the season.
It is very much a pivotal game for both teams, Ipswich will be looking for three points to strengthen their automatic promotion credentials whereas West Brom are currently fighting for a spot in the play-offs.
Despite the Tractor Boys being just one place above their opponents, currently sat in fourth in the Championship table, they sit a whole 11 points ahead of Carlos Corberan’s side. It is a huge game for Ipswich, who have somewhat struggled of late, and gaining all three points is paramount to staying in the fight for an automatic promotion spots.
They cannot afford to lose any ground on Leeds United and Southampton ahead of them, with the three sides seemingly locked in a battle for second place behind runaway leaders Leicester City.
The Baggies on the other hand will be looking to strengthen their chances of a spot in the play-offs and with just a four point gap to seventh, they cannot afford to drop too many points or those promotion ambitions could be dashed. They do face a tough assignment travelling to Portman Road, a ground where few have returned with three points, but given Ipswich’s current form they are in with a shout of a successful return.
Here are a handful of The Real EFL writers’ views on how the game will play out…
“The game comes at a pivotal time in the course of both teams’ seasons and although their current chances of promotion do slightly differ, they both share the same ambition of a spot in the Premier League this year. Ipswich’s home form this season has been nothing short of incredible, losing just one Championship match at Portman Road so far, and that home record no doubt improves their chances.
West Brom’s away record has seriously hampered their chances of being any closer to the top four in the table. Having only managed to gain 15 points from their 14 away matches thus far, they must improve if they want to strengthen their place in the play-offs.
Ipswich haven’t won back-to-back league matches since mid-December and have struggled with consistency in the last couple of months. With just one win in their last five matches, they are a team out of form and the spoils being shared seems the likeliest outcome.”
Ipswich 1-1 West Brom
“Ipswich have spent most of this season in the automatic places, only dropping out recently following an uncharacteristic less than stellar run. Praise has been heaped on McKenna all year, and rightly so, but now he has to earn his money. Winning week in week out is one thing, turning your fortunes around to end poorer runs is where managers stand out. There is however no doubt that he will be able to do that.
West Brom have been consistent this season especially in the defence as proved by their clean sheet tally, which has meant that they’re able to find themselves in a playoff position, showing off some good performances at different points of the season, including in this reverse fixture. However, now at Portman Road, I think this is the weekend where Ipswich show everyone that their first half of the season was no fluke, and that they can put in a solid fight to get into the top two. I’m going for a home win.
Ipswich 2-0 West Brom
“The wheels have come off for Ipswich at present, but they do remain firmly locked in the battle for the top two. The Tractor Boys though need a change of fortunes instantly, and what better way to return to form than to win the day’s early kick-off. That would certainly put the pressure back in the hands of their promotion rivals, who face games that they would be favourites to win on paper, but may prove awkward on the pitch.
West Brom have been excellent at The Hawthorns this season, but have struggled away from the West Midlands. Recent form on the road has been better, with four wins from six both home and away coming in a period that they were dumped out of the FA Cup by Black Country rivals Wolves. The Baggies have their eyes on solidifying a Play-Off place, and victory in East Anglia would put clear daylight between themselves and the chasing pack before the 3pm fixtures.
This weekend’s prime fixture in the Football League promises plenty of fireworks, but it may only need one goal to separate these two.”
Ipswich 0-1 West Brom