Tractor Boys To Level It Out With League LeadersStats
Ipswich v Bournemouth
Ipswich entertain surprise league leaders Bournemouth on Good Friday as the Championship heads into the final straight of the season with everything still up for grabs.
Successive 1-0 wins over Watford and Bolton in their two games prior to the international break have put the Tractor Boys in the final playoff spot although automatic promotion is far from beyond their grasp as they lie just five points behind second place with seven league fixtures to play. The win over Bolton brought an end to a run of four games without a win for Mick McCarthy’s side and this is the only one of their remaining matches against any of the current top five.
Ipswich also boast the division’s joint-best home record with only three losses and 40 points earned from their 19 games, despite scoring the fewest goals on home soil of any side in the top nine.
Daryl Murphy is both the club’s and Championship top scorer this season with 23 league goals.
A run of six games without defeat including four wins from their last five outings has put Bournemouth top of the pile in England’s second tier, a point ahead of nearest challengers Watford.
Eddie Howe’s side swept aside Middlesbrough 3-0 in their last outing to leapfrog the Teesiders in the table and have also picked up big wins over Blackpool and Fulham during their fine recent run which has seen them score 15 times in their last five.
The Cherries have the division’s best goal difference by some distance to boot, Callum Wilson’s 16 Championship goals puts him top of their goalscoring ranks in the league, although Brett Pitman, Yann Kermorgant and Matt Ritchie have all broken double figures to prove the potency that runs throughout the side.
Irish striker Noel Hunt is still sidelined through injury for Ipswich but loan signings Jonny Williams and Zeki Fryers will be available after the duo joined on loan from Crystal Palace last week. Richard Chaplow could start after scoring a late winner after his introduction from the bench against Watford.
Loan signing Kenwyne Jones is expected to go straight into the squad for the visitors having completed a move until the end of the season last week but Howe is expected to keep faith with the same starting XI that performed so well against Boro last time out.
These sides played out a second 2-2 draw in a row when they met in the reverse fixture back in November.
All three of their meetings in the Championship over the past two seasons have ended level.
Ipswich won all three of their cup clashes back in the mid-1990s while the last time Bournemouth got the better of these opponents came in the old Second Division in 1990.
As in the case with so many of the top ten teams in such a competitive league, there’s actually very little between these sides in terms of quality so 2/1 on a home win is tempting even against an in-from Bournemouth outfit, but it’s hard to look further than a draw at 9/4 in match betting.
The 4/5 available on both teams scoring is worth a punt too but perhaps the pick of the bets for value could lie within the Cherries prolific side with Matt Ritchie and Harry Arter excellently priced to score at any time at 15/4 and 18/5 respectively.