Norwich City v Ipswich Town: Championship – live!

Norwich City v Ipswich Town: Championship – live!

18-Feb-2018 11:44:01 | The Guardian

“I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for Ipswich since under Bobby Robson they beat Manchester United 6-0 in 78-79 (Gary Bailey also saved three penalties!),” writes Kev Sparke.

Understandably, Kev, as that was a wonderful side. I’d be interested in hearing from more neutrals in fact: which of these clubs has really got you going down the years, both recently and in the past?

McCarthy on Maddison: “You’ve got to be aware of him, you’d be a fool if you weren’t.” He’s a superb player; they’ve definitely set out to keep him quiet here though.

My feeling about this one is that, if Norwich can move the ball around quickly, they’ll be OK. And if Ipswich can stay in it for an hour, it will get very interesting. An early Norwich goal and they might streak away though.

Obviously I don’t have a favourite; I’m here to faithfully document proceedings with a Guardian-style light touch. This, for what it’s worth, was the first East Anglian derby I ever attended:

Whoever wins today – if someone wins – will break the tie of 40 victories apiece in this fixture. Norwich have caught up impressively of late. Supporters of either club: what’s been your favourite?

That’s a ... respectful lineup from McCarthy, who has left his flair players on the bench and matched Norwich up with a back three (which, I suspect, will work out as more of a back five). Plenty of craft and guile, though, in a Norwich side that includes Maddison and the mercurial German playmaker Moritz Leitner. Presumably Ipswich would like to keep this tight for an hour and then see about opening things up.

Norwich City: Gunn; Reed, Zimmermann, Hanley, Klose, Lewis; Tettey; Leitner, Maddison, Murphy; Oliveira. Subs: McGovern, Pinto, Vrancic, Watkins, Stiepermann, Hernandez, Srbeny.

Ipswich Town: Bialkowski; Iorfa, Chambers, Carter-Vickers, Webster, Knudsen; Connolly, Skuse, Gleeson; Waghorn, Garner. Subs: Crowe, McGoldrick, Celina, Spence, Ward, Hyam, Carayol.

Contrary to appearances, this remains one of the country’s biggest regional set-tos. Yet these sides sit 12th and 13th in the Championship, level on points and with play-off hopes barely flickering. How on earth has it come to this?

Norwich must be kicking themselves. They could have smacked this derby out into the long grass, rendering it a Southampton v Portsmouth or worse. Instead they wasted their most recent spells in the Premier League, overreaching with some ill-judged signings and poor backroom decisions, and find themselves four months shy of a parachute payment-free existence. They are rebuilding under Daniel Farke and it has not been all bad: they pass the ball very nicely at times, still have plenty of residual top-flight quality – including a real gem in the form of James Maddison – and are in their best form now since October, when they won 1-0 at Portman Road. Just one defeat in eight league games for them, and none in their last 11 (eleven) East Anglian derbies, so they rightly start as favourites today.

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