THE stakes are high for Sunday’s East Anglia derby when Norwich host Ipswich. Premier League promotion is the aim for the two Championship high-flyers and Mark O’Haire’s (@MarkOHaire) fancying the hosts.
Norwich City v Ipswich Town | Sunday 14.05 | Sky Sports 1
I don’t follow Scottish football closely these days but I have to admit, I was hugely embarrassed not to know who Alex Neil was when he was first linked with the vacant Norwich job.
A quick search on Google told me was a young Scot working wonders with Hamilton north of the border and although he was making a big impact in the Scottish leagues, I couldn’t help but think this was a hugely risky appointment.
But what do I know? Nine games into his reign at Carrow Road and the Canaries are right back in the promotion picture. Under Neil, Norwich boast a W7-D1-L1 record, scoring 20 goals. Victory on Sunday would see the hosts leapfrog their local rivals and to within three points of the Championship summit.
Norwich won the reverse fixture thanks to a Lewis Grabban strike back in August and the Canaries do hold bragging rights in this fixture; that win was their third on the spin in the East Anglian derby with Ipswich failing to leave Carrow Road with maximum points since 2006 and only twice in their last 14 visits.
So you won’t be surprised to hear I’m siding with Norwich at 10/11 with William Hill. The home side are on their best winning streak since 2010 and have won exactly half of their 16 home fixtures this campaign, losing just three. They’ve netted a whopping 38 goals in front of their home fans and are clearly riding the crest of a wave.
I’ve said many times that Mick McCarthy is one of my favourite Football League managers but his Ipswich team have gone off the boil a bit of late. The Tractor Boys have lost five of their last 10 including two of their previous three on the road.
True, they’ve secured maximum points in three of their last four but the fixture list has been fairly kind to Mick’s men of late and it’s worth noting, their tally of six wins from 15 away from Portman Road is the worst win return from any of the sides currently occupying the play-off places.
There’s absolutely no doubt that Town will battle for every ball and make life difficult for their buoyant hosts but organisational skills may only take the Tractor Boys so far in what will be a white-hot atmosphere. Player-for-player Norwich have the strongest squad in the second tier and their class should tell on Sunday. I’ll have the home win at close to evens.
Norwich City v Ipswich Town – Norwich City to win (10/11 William Hill)
Will Norwich’s outstanding run continue on Sunday? Do you expect Ipswich to get something?
We’d love to hear what you’re backing in the East Anglian derby so let us know in the comments box below!