Good Pre-Season Campaigns Determine Draw
Ipswich v Fulham
After decent pre-season campaigns from both sides, who will reign victorious in their season opener, Ipswich or Fulham?
Ipswich ended last season in reasonable form, winning five and drawing two of their final 10 games and ending the campaign just four points off the play-offs. Their home form was largely to thank for a top half finish as the Tractor Boys picked up 42 of their 68 points at Portman Road.
David McGoldrick ended the campaign as the club’s top scorer with 14 league goals, despite picking up an injury in mid February that kept him out for the remainder of the season. Youngster Jack Marriott has returned to the club after scoring 12 goals in 21 games while on loan at Conference side Woking last season.
Mick McCarthy’s men have enjoyed an unbeaten pre-season including draws against Leyton Orient and West Ham and victories over Southend, Gillingham and Colchester.
Fulham’s relegation from the Premier League last season was confirmed by a run of only three wins in 17 games, culminating in only taking two points from their final four fixtures.
Steven Sidwell ended the season as the club’s top scorer with seven goals – a sign of where the Cottagers problems mainly lay. The former Chelsea midfielder has since joined Stoke.
Felix Magath’s men have won five of their six pre-season friendlies, keeping a clean sheet in each of their five triumphs, which included wins over Motherwell and DC United.
David McGoldrick was used as a late substitute in pre-season games against Southend and Leyton Orient but it’s unlikely that he’ll be considered fit enough to start this game. Summer signing Cameron Stewart definitely won’t feature, having been ruled out for up to six weeks with a fractured jaw.
Ross McCormack joined Fulham for a record fee this summer, but has featured only once in pre-season – against former club Motherwell. With no official line from the club on his lack of involvement – there have been rumours of an injury but also suggestions that he has already fallen out with Magath – it’s unclear whether he will start this weekend.
It’s more than a decade since these two clubs last played against each other, with Ipswich winning 1-0 at Portman Road thanks to a Marcus Bent goal back in January 2002.
Ipswich are made the ever-so-slight favourites at odds of 17/10 to kick off the campaign with all three points, while Fulham are a marginally bigger 7/4. Although the Cottagers are probably the stronger outfit on paper…
…with Fulham’s poor away form and Ipswich’s strong home form taken into consideration the draw looks to be the best bet at odds of 9/4.
McGoldrick is unfit and McCormack’s pre-season absence is a slight mystery, so it makes sense to steer clear of the two market leaders in the goalscorer betting. I fancy Hugo Rodallega could shine brightly in the Championship and at odds of 15/2 to score first and 11/5 to net anytime looks a good bet.