SUNDAY sees the return of the hotly-contested East Anglian Derby and EFL lover Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) offers his best bets.
Ipswich v Norwich | Sunday 2nd September 2018, 12:00
For the first time since 2011, the East Anglian Derby is not televised; a shame, perhaps, given that this is one of the most unique, special fixtures in the English football calendar.
The decision though in some ways highlights the stagnation in Suffolk and the nosedive in Norfolk; since these two sides created a fiercely competitive Play-Off Semi-Final in 2015 – and Norwich went straight back down following promotion that year – neither has threatened the top six.
A 2018-19 promotion push was a hope rather than an expectation for both clubs in pre-season and, after disappointing starts, it has become little more than a pipe dream.
Therefore, victory in this game would be a way for fans to take good memories from the campaign and for either manager to buy themselves extra credit. Who will be victorious?
Farke vs Hurst
Ipswich might be overpriced to win this match at 52/25 with Marathon.
While the traders may be influenced by the hosts being bottom of the early Championship table, the odds may have something to do with their failure to beat their neighbours in each of the previous 10 meetings, but it's important to look a little further beyond the bare head-to-head statistics.
Mick McCarthy was in charge for eight of those games; the Yorkshireman’s critics suggest he never embraced these derbies, so the Ipswich fanbase might greatly relish the grudge matches with a fresh face at the helm.
Paul Hurst, who has taken the tenacity and aggression he showed during his playing days into management, could prove a far more willing competitor than McCarthy; perversely, previous defeats might even work in his side's favour.
By contrast, Canaries boss Daniel Farke has more of a process-driven philosophy – of course, it cannot be denied that this has made him a success at Dortmund II and a respected developer of individuals at Carrow Road.
Norwich have not had too many problems creating openings under the cool-headed German; they have taken 70 shots so far this season and 38 from inside the box – the fifth and joint-third most in that metric – and might feel they should have scored more than eight goals in five games.
Farke though appears to have difficulties adapting to different scenarios, both tactically and emotionally; this might not serve him too well in these types of clashes, even though his side won 1-0 at Portman Road last term.
Derby games are often won by teams who are fuelled by the occasion and Hurst’s men could fit the bill.
The Tactics Board
Norwich typically use a flexible system, which is a 4-2-3-1 without the ball. When they turn possession over though the right-sided anchor man, which could be Louis Thompson, will drop deeper to allow full-backs Ivo Pinto and Jamal Lewis to push on as the formation morphs into a 3-3-4 of sorts; players constantly rotate and interchange.
While this unpredictability helps keep opponents guessing, it also means responsibilities can become opaque within their own team. This could be problematic against Ipswich, who are likely press with energy and vigour in the first hour, as Hurst’s sides so often do.
45% of their play so far this season has gone down the right flank, which highlights the influence of summer signings Gwion Edwards and Janoi Donacien; Onel Hernandez is on paper Norwich’s left winger but he tends to drift across.
The Cuban-born creator has looked impressive going forward and been directly involved in five goals; because he has been partially relieved of his defensive duties though, there is potential for Edwards and Donacien to either find two-on-one situations against Lewis, or force Tommy Trybull out of position.
Edwards is more likely than Hernandez to be switched on defensively – having averaged 3.8 tackles per game to his opposite number’s 1.2 – so that right flank for Ipswich is where this game could be won.
The Betting Angle
Just one of Hurst’s 32 victories as an EFL manager have seen his side take a 3-0 lead; this suggests that when his sides get in front, they prefer to preserve their energy and manage proceedings wisely.
For that reason, our best bet is BetBright’s 5/1 on Ipswich to win a match that sees Under 2.5 goals. Given that they are yet to win this season, their first is likely to come in a tight contest.
An anytime goalscorer tip? Unibet’s 14/1 on centre-back Luke Chambers: here’s why.
In the recent 2-0 defeat at Derby, he had two attempts at goal from next to the penalty spot; by far the closest position from which any Ipswich player had an effort in that match.
10 of Ipswich’s 32 efforts from inside the area this season have come from centre-backs due to their threat from set plays; with Aristote Nsiala suspended, Chambers will be one of the primary targets from dead ball scenarios.
The long-serving 32-year-old knows the importance of East Anglian Derbies, having played in eight of them throughout his career, scoring in the most recent one.
If the above selections are too bold for one’s liking, Marathon’s 52/25 on an outright Ipswich win, as mentioned above. offers ample value.
Norwich look more likely to trouble the top half this season, but Ipswich could be better equipped for the derby.