CHAMPIONSHIP GAME OF THE WEEKEND
PeterboroughUnited v Ipswich Town – Saturday 20th August 2011 – 5.20 pm kick-off
Last time the sides met
Peterborough United 3-1 Ipswich Town (Tuesday 16th February 2010)
Dickinson (47), Frecklington (63), Murphy (9)
On Saturday evening, two teams that play in blue and white will go head-to-head in front of the Sky cameras at Portman Road. Surviving in the Championship is all that matters to Peterborough United, having lost top-scorer Craig Mackail-Smith to Brighton. Ipswich Town however, will aim for a top-flight return, as their fans are currently smarting at Norwich City’s back-to-back promotions. Both sides possess an array of attacking talent, and neutrals will hope that both sides express their flair in an entertaining manner.
Transfers In: Transfers Out:
Joe Day (Rushden & Diamonds) Seth Nana (Northampton Town)
Paul Jones (Exeter City) Arron Davies (Northampton Town)
Nicky Ajose (Manchester United) Dominic Green (Released)
Craig Alcock (Yeovil Town) Chris Whelpdale (Gillingham)
Ryan Tunnicliffe (On loan from Man United) Craig Mackail-Smith (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Scott Wootten (On loan from Man United) Charlie Lee (Gillingham)
Josh Thompson (On loan from Celtic) Rene Howe (Torquay United)
Ben Gordon (On loan from Chelsea) Exodus Geohaghon (Barnet)
James Wesolowski (Oldham Athletic)
Carl Piergianni (Stockport County)
Peterborough United are a club that have punched well above their weight and they will now hope to establish themselves in the second tier of English football. Club owner Darragh MacAnthony resisted offering extortionate wages to players when they were last in the Championship. Whilst the club remained financially prudent, problems suddenly came to the surface as soon as manager Darren Ferguson departed for Preston. McAnthony accused Ferguson of causing disarray and unsettling the players. “Ask him (Ferguson) why in the last seven days he has offered terms to some of our players without agreeing terms with our club for them and of course totally unsettling these players.” The Posh did not recover and finished a miserable season bottom of the Championship.
However, Gary Johnson left the club stating that he did not get on with the board. Barry Fry (director of football) has never been shy of expressing his opinion, which may have caused a lot of unrest within the club. Ferguson was re-appointed on 12th January 2011 and with the help of Craig Mackail-Smith’s goals, he achieved a second promotion to the Championship.
Unfortunately, Mackail-Smith’s departure to Brighton has left a huge hole in the Peterborough attack. Ferguson will hope that creative Scottish winger George Boyd does not follow him out of the door, as his inventiveness from the left wing has been pivotal in the early stages of the season. Lee Frecklington is another talented player that Ferguson will not want to lose, as he offers another goal-threat from midfield.
Ferguson has always had the help of his father, recruiting youngsters Scott Wootton and Ryan Tunnicliffe. Wootton, 19, has formed a central defensive partnership with Ryan Bennett, 21. Perhaps their inexperience has caused the Posh to conceded 5 goals in the opening three matches. However, Ferguson stated that they performed admirably in the 2-2 draw with Millwall on Wednesday night.
Expected Starting Line-Up
M.Little (RB) R.Bennett (CB) S.Wootten (CB) C.Alcock (LB)
L.Frecklington (RM) G.McCann (CM) T.Rowe (CM) G.Boyd (LM)
L.Tomlin (ST) D.Ball (ST)
Transfers In: Transfers Out:
Michael Chopra (Cardiff City) David Norris (Portsmouth)
Ivar Ingimarsson (Reading) Gareth McAuley (West Brom)
Nathan Ellington (Watford) Connor Wickham (Sunderland)
Aaron Cresswell (Tranmere Rovers) Luciano Civelli (Released)
Lee Bowyer (Birmingham City) Marton Fulop (West Brom)
David Stockdale (On loan from Fulham)
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (Arsenal)
Keith Andrews (On loan from Blackburn Rovers)
The fans of Ipswich Town are praying that their side can achieve automatic promotion for the first time since 1992. They seem to have wretched luck in the play-offs as they were defeated by West Ham United in the consecutive years of 2004 and 2005. Yet a play-off-place might be the best they can hope for given the stiff competition within the Championship. Last season, Roy Keane was unable to replicate his achievements at Sunderland, as the Tractor Boys looked set to stagnate further into mediocrity. Club owner Marcus Evans looked past Paul Jewell’s recent managerial stint at Derby County, and gave him the task of turning the club’s fortunes around.
After a fantastic start to the season with a comprehensive 3-0 victory at Bristol City, optimism around Portman Road suddenly evaporated, as Ipswich lost their opening home fixtures to Hull City and Southampton. Jewell had stinging criticism for his players after their awful defensive display on Tuesday night. “Losing like this at home hurts me badly and I know it hurts the supporters too. The problem is, I don’t think it hurts the players enough.” These words may be damaging for the team’s morale, and could create a divide between the players and the fans.
Seemingly, Jewell is deflecting the blame away from his tactics, as he changed the system from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2, demonstrating that he still hasn’t found a winning formula for his team. He also made two changes at half-time against the Saints. This constant tinkering to the side will not help the players to build relationships, meaning Jewell has to find a system and stick to it to achieve consistency.
Undoubtedly, Gareth McAuley’s departure has left a huge hole in defence. Youngsters Tommy Smith and Aaron Cresswell showed their naiveties on Tuesday, so Jewell may opt for Mark Kennedy’s experience at left-back. The Ipswich manager may also be tempted to wield the axe for Saturday’s clash, as Jason Scotland may be sacrificed for the impressive Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. Whilst Lee Martin is another attack-minded player that will offer a goal-threat from the flank, having scored in the 3-0 win at Bristol City.
Expected Starting Line-Up
C.Edwards (RB) T.Smith (CB) D.Delaney (CB) M.Kennedy (LB)
K.Andrews (RM) L.Bowyer (CM) G.Leadbitter (CM) L.Martin (LM)
M.Chopra (ST) J.Emmanuel-Thomas (ST)
Tactical Battle – Where the game might be won and lost
A lot will depend on Paul Jewell’s approach and how the Ipswich players respond to his criticism, as the pressure will be immense when they play in front of the Sky cameras. Does he opt to change the system again for defensive solidity away from home? Or does he continue with Tuesday’s open system of 4-4-2 which could leave the side vulnerable to Peterborough’s potent attacking options.
An experienced midfield of Lee Bowyer, Grant Leadbitter and Keith Andrews should dominate Peterborough’s midfield. Yet Andrews was deployed on the right hand side on Tuesday, and is unlikely to provide natural width for the Tractor Boys. Peterborough winger George Boyd will hope to exploit Ipswich’s narrow midfield from the left-hand side. If Jewell deploys another attack-minded player on the left flank, then Ipswich could be severely exposed by the creative midfielder Lee Frecklington.
Up front, Michael Chopra is a proven Championship goalscorer, and may be too much to handle for young defenders Scott Wootton and Ryan Bennett. They will have to be on their guard to stop the former Cardiff City forward.
Peterborough United’s rampant, attack-minded side may be too much for Ipswich to handle at London Road. I will go for an emphatic 3-1 victory for the Posh as they continue their fine start to the season.
Peterborough/Draw – 11/1 (1st Half/2nd Half) – Having taken an unlikely point away at Millwall on Wednesday, expect Peterborough to come out of the blocks all guns blazing. The two home defeats will have left Ipswich very low in confidence, and playing in front of a vociferous home crowd will be a tough test. Yet they produced a fight-back on Tuesday night, so the draw in the second half might be an interesting bet if Jewell feels the need to lay into his players at half-time.
Ryan Tunnicliffe – 22/1 (Last Goalscorer) – The on-loan Manchester United youngster has been impressive when he has come off the bench. His manager Darren Ferguson likened him to a young Nicky Butt and his energy from midfield might settle the game in the closing stages.