Tuesday 26th January 2021
(9th) Ipswich Town v Sunderland (7th)
Sky Bet League One
TV/Stream: Full live match coverage available via Sky Sports and also www.safc.com to season card holders that have activated access to coverage of all games played behind closed doors.
Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Newcastle (not online)
Three points are three points and Lee Johnson will just be grateful that Sunderland left the Stadium of Light on Saturday with a maximum return.
The trick is now turning an ugly victory into a winning run and tonight’s clash in front of the Sky cameras pits two of League One’s heavyweights together – and both are desperate for points.
Sunderland are still yet to suffer defeat on the road this season in League One after winning five and drawing five out of ten away games so far.
Only four goals have been conceded over the course of these ten games away from the Stadium of Light, and this will be something Lee Johnson will be keen to maintain as he continues to search for the right blend between keeping it tight and creating more chances to kickstart Sunderland’s season.
Paul Lambert is under pressure at Portman Road. After blistering starts in both seasons in League One they have tailed off and need to quickly get their season back on track.
As inconsistent as Sunderland this season, they have alternated between victories and defeats over the previous six, and were beaten last time out by a single goal to Peterborough at Portman Road, without the Posh having a single shot on target.
This defeat means Lambert’s men have lost three of their last four at home, as well as keeping up their record of not beating any of the current top seven sides in the division this season.
Taking the scalp of Sunderland would be a huge step forward for Ipswich and would give them the belief that they’re back in the hunt for a play-off place.
League One Form Guide
Last five games...
Sunderland Team News
It takes a brave manager to tinker with a back four after keeping a clean sheet, so even though Luke O’Nien may be getting closer to taking a throw-in and the impressive Dion Sanderson is waiting in the wings, it’s likely we will see the same rearguard for Sunderland. However, this may be dependent on there being no flare-up of the injury being carried by Jordan Willis in recent weeks.
In midfield, there may be the temptation to rest Grant Leadbitter after a busy afternoon on Saturday against Shrewsbury and, with Jack Diamond also looking a bit tired, Chris Maguire may be set for a return to the starting XI.
Otherwise, it would be surprising to see wholesale changes after collecting all three points last time out.
Possible XI: Burge, Power, Willis, Wright, McFadzean, Winchester, Scowen, Maguire, McGeady, O’Brien, Wyke
Ipswich Town Team News
An unfortunate defeat through the only goal of the game against Peterborough in their last fixture means Lambert might be tempted to tinker with his pack rather than shuffle it.
A seemingly vast array of talent in midfield has been misfiring this season and it is likely the Barnsley loanee Luke Thomas will come into the starting XI after making his debut from the bench against the Posh.
Possible XI: Holy, Chambers, Nsiala, McGuiness, Ward, Downes, Dozzell, Thomas, Bishop, Edwards, Drinan
Last Time We Met... at Portman Road
Saturday 10th August 2019:
Sky Bet League One
Ipswich Town 1 - 1 Sunderland (Garbutt 15’ - Gooch 64’)
Sunderland: J. McLaughlin, O’Nien, C. McLaughlin, Flanagan, Willis (Ozturk), Hume (Maguire), McGeouch, Dobson, Gooch, McGeady (Grigg), McNulty Substitutes not used: Burge, Leadbitter, Power, Embleton
Ipswich Town: Holy, Donacien, Kenlock, Skuse, Woolfenden, Chambers, Rowe (Dozzell), Downes, Jackson (Roberts), Norwood, Garbutt (Judge) Substitutes not used: Norris, Wilson, El Mizouni, Huws
Played for Both...
Signed by Lawrie McMenemy in the summer of 1985 from Ipswich Town for £50,000 after making over 500 appearances at Portman Road between 1973-1985. Made 66 appearances in two years at Sunderland. The ex-Scotland international was also the manager of the Tractor Boys between 1994-2002.
Ferryhill-born Gates racked up almost 350 appearances in East Anglia, where the also picked up a FA Cup and UEFA Cup winners medal as well as two caps for England. He moved to Wearside with his Ipswich teammate Burley in the summer of 1985 for £150,000 to join McMenemy’s Roker Park revolution.
His form was patchy as Sunderland dropped down the Football League ladder before his partnership with Marco Gabbiadini fired us back to Division One in 1990.
Our current club captain made around 150 appearances for Ipswich Town in a three-year spell after signing from Sunderland for around £2.6 million in 2009. He rejoined Sunderland in 2019 from Middlesbrough after spending seven years on Teesside.
Head to Head... Sunderland at Portman Road
In all competitions...
Sunderland wins: 5
Ipswich Town wins: 16
Goals for Sunderland: 24
Goals for Ipswich Town: 56
Despite Ipswich being the home side and only a point behind Sunderland with a game in hand, the bookies have an away win at 6/5, with a home victory 5/2, and the draw at 21/10.
Sunderland’s top scorer Charlie Wyke is the shortest odds to open the scoring for Sunderland and continue his recent goalscoring exploits at 4/1, closely followed by Chris Maguire at 5/1 – despite the fact most of his recent appearances have been from the bench – and Aiden O’Brien at 6/1.
Others that might offer a little more value are Jack Diamond at 15/2 and Aiden McGeady at 10/1. If you think a penalty might be the difference between the two sides then Grant Leadbitter could provide value at 11/1.
A 1-1 is the shortest correct score at 9/2, followed by a 1-0 Sunderland win at 11/2 and 0-0 at 7/1. Confidence in the home side is low and it’s reflected in the odds with a 2-0 home victory priced at 14/1.
It’s been the case recently that whenever we take a step forward we take a stumble back again. Despite victory over Shrewsbury, the difference between the first and second half displays provided more questions than answers.
I don’t know which Sunderland will turn up, but with both sides fearing defeat as much as each other and the Sky cameras in town I’m going for a bore draw.
Ipswich Town 0-0 Sunderland