ITT pre match preview
Written By Ollie Allen
THE START OF A NEW SEASON
As a new season dawns on the horizon, many newspaper outlets, pundits and fans are not predicting the nicest of ends to Town’s upcoming campaign. After the catastrophic season that was last, most Championship fans believe that the time has come for Ipswich to be relegated after fifteen years in the second tear.
The first opponents Town will be welcoming to Portman Road are Birmingham City and personally I feel like we have been given a team in a similar situation to ours. After Birmingham City’s poor campaign last year, which almost saw them relegated, many City fans will be similarly hoping that dropping down to League 1 will not be the case this year.
Birmingham made a good appointment in Harry Redknapp towards the end of last term, one which ultimately led to them surviving the drop. However, a lack of convincing attacking signings has frustrated the City fans which have led to many people questioning Birmingham’s Championship status next season.
IPSWICH TOWN: Ipswich will be without new midfield signings Tom Adeyemi (illness) and Emyr Huws (Achilles). Fellow midfielder Luke Hyam (ankle) and youngster Teddy Bishop (groin) will also be out of Saturday’s clash. David McGoldrick and potential debutants Joe Garner and Bersant Celina are all expected to feature.
BIRMINGHAM CITY: The away side will be without Captain Paul Robinson through suspension and target man forward Lukas Jutkiewicz is also out with a calf injury. Birmingham new boys David Stockdale, Marc Roberts and Cheikh N’Doye are all expected to make their debuts for Redknapp’s side.
Ipswich 1-0 Birmingham (Garner debut goal)
Ipswich 1-0 Birmingham (Garner debut goal)
It'll be interesting to see just how Town respond to the calamitous 6-1 pre-season defeat away at Charlton last week. The squad is certainly looking a bit threadbare but with the expected return of Garner, McGoldrick & Celina, it will give Town a boost ahead of the Championship opener.
Town are marginal favourites with the bookies and I agree with that notion. Harry Redknapp has vented his frustration at not being able to strengthen his squad as much as he would have liked and on paper, Birmingham's squad is no better than a mid-table side. The loss of Lukas Jutkiewicz will hurt Birmingham going forward, so I’m struggling to see where their goal threat comes from.
Defensively they are OK and David Stockdale can be incredibly hard to beat on his day so it's important Town take this game by the horns and try to put Birmingham under some early pressure. I think Town will narrowly see this game out if they play to the level we have seen for most of the pre-season. I also fancy Joe Garner to continue his red hot form and open his league account for Ipswich in an opening day win.
BIRMINGHAM KEY PLAYER
Craig Gardner: If there has been a shining light in Birmingham's transfer business then it’s been the permanent return of Craig Gardner. The former West Brom & Sunderland man returned to St Andrews this summer on a permanent deal after spending the final half of last season on loan with the Blues.
Gardner is renowned for his intricate passing and dangerous set piece delivery so Town will need to make sure they don't give him time on the ball to pull the strings in the middle of the park.
OLLIE'S PREDICTED IPSWICH STARTING XI
Bialkowski, Spence, Chambers, Webster, Kenlock, Ward, Skuse, Dozzell, Celina, McGoldrick, Garner.
Ipswich Town (Garner, Chambers) 2 – 1 Birmingham City (Maghoma)
The bookies have Town just to edge it and I think we will. Even though it is predicted to be a cagey affair in which both teams will be trying not to lose, I think Ipswich have more going for them in the attack.
City are normally a very well organised side but I think that the nuisance that Garner can be to defenders will really keep the opposition’s defence busy and ultimately I can see the Ex-Rangers striker bagging a debut goal. I think Birmingham will get one back with pacey winger Jacques Maghoma scoring it as his electrifying pace will surely give Town’s shaky defence something to deal with.
Due to the potential physical nature of the game, I think that the winner will be from a set piece and as Town normally tend to do quite well when converting chances from corners; a bullet header from Luke Chambers will clinch the three points for me.
Overall, I think it will be an interesting affair and the usual good crowd on the opening day will hopefully rev up the players to put in a performance. Come on the Town!
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