Full Steam Ahead For The Tractor Boys
Ipswich v Derby
Second place plays third place in this Saturday’s early Championship game as Derby travel to Ipswich with top spot in the division up for grabs.
Last Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Southampton in the FA Cup made it 12 games without defeat for Ipswich.
27 points from a possible 33 in their last 11 Championship games have moved the Tractor Boys up in to the automatic promotion positions and within a couple of points of leaders Bournemouth; victory here would see Mick McCarthy’s men move, at least temporarily, to the summit.
Daryl Murphy is the division’s top scorer with 17 goals, scoring 13 goals in his last 13 Championship games and four in his last three starts. Defender Tommy Smith has two in his last two league games. At the other end, goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski has kept three clean sheets in his last four starts.
Derby are also back on the front foot and have now won three games on the bounce without conceding following a tricky period of just one win in five throughout the early part of December.
Chris Martin’s late penalty against Southport last weekend spared the Rams’ blushes as they emerged 1-0 winners against the Conference outfit. The 90th-minute winner was Martin’s 17th goal of the season in all competitions, and his third in his last four games.
Darren Ambrose has extended his contract with Ipswich until the end of the season after he scored on his first start of the campaign in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Southampton. Ambrose’s inclusion in the starting XI at the weekend was one of a number of changes Mick McCarthy made for the FA Cup game; we should expect the Tractor Boys to revert to a more familiar starting line-up here.
McClaren also made several changes to his starting line-up last weekend and we should expect the likes of Jonny Russell, Chris Martin, Jordan Ibe and Will Hughes return to the team. Darren Bent has recently joined the club on loan and could make his debut for the club at some point.
Chris Martin and Christophe Berra scored the goals in a 1-1 draw at Pride Park earlier this season, while Ipswich won the fixture at Portman Road 2-1 last season; Berra again on the scoresheet for Ipswich, as he also was in a 4-4 draw between the teams earlier in the 2013/14 campaign.
The odds compilers can’t split these two teams in the betting, with both sides available to back for the win at odds of 13/8 and the draw 23/10.
The same applies in the Draw No Bet market where Ipswich and Derby are each available at odds of 20/23. Backing the home side here looks to be the best value bet of the match, given their respective recent runs of form.
Considering his scoring record against the Rams (three in three), it would be folly to ignore Christophe Berra at odds of 11/2 to score anytime this weekend, while Darren Bent has an exemplary record of scoring on debut and is 13/8 to keep that up with Derby.