Match preview: Sunderland v Ipswich Town – Everything you need to know

PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 February 2018

Mick McCarthy was Sunderland manager from 2003 to 2006. Photo: PA

Mick McCarthy was Sunderland manager from 2003 to 2006. Photo: PA

Ipswich Town take on Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in a Championship match this afternoon. Here’s all you need to know.

Building momentum over the coming weeks is key if Ipswich Town’s fast-fading play-off hopes are to be rekindled – and Mick McCarthy knows it’s time for actions, not words.

The Blues were just two points adrift of the top-six in the middle of December, but some patchy form at the turn of the year – just one win from the last eight in all competitions – has seen the gap grow to eight.

Placed 12th in the table, Town are at second-bottom Sunderland today, then host rock-bottom Burton next weekend before taking on rivals Norwich City at Carrow Road the following Sunday.

“The only way we are going to get back in contention is winning games regularly,” admitted McCarthy. “Me sitting here saying we’ve got to do it doesn’t mean anything though. We’ve got to earn it, we’ve got to play well on the pitch.

Ex-Wales boss Chris Coleman has struggled to turn around the fortunes of second-bottom Sunderland. Photo: PAEx-Wales boss Chris Coleman has struggled to turn around the fortunes of second-bottom Sunderland. Photo: PA

“If we can beat Sunderland then who knows where that could take us? It’s not going to be easy though.”

The Blacks Cats have failed to shake off the losing habit following relegation from the Premier League, with Chris Coleman failing to stop the rot after replacing Simon Grayson in November.

Despite having almost gone the entirety of 2017 without a home win, the north east club are still attracting crowds of close to 30,000.

“They’ll be desperate for the points after Tuesday night (a 3-1 loss at Birmingham),” said McCarthy. “I imagine there will be a good atmosphere, certainly at the start, and we’ll have to go and silence that. They’ll be up for it.

“Then we’ve got Burton. Don’t anybody start looking around and thinking these games are easy because, as I keep reminding people, when we were in the bottom three we were a right pain in the backside to everybody. People didn’t like playing us.”

Reflecting on time in charge of Sunderland (03-06), McCarthy said: “I had a fabulous time after a tough start. I lost my first 11 games there, nine in the Premier League, but we ended up in the play-offs, lost that and won the league the next year.

“It’s a great club, great people and a fabulous stadium. I used to walk the players I was trying to sign out into the directors’ box and it’s mindblowing when you see it for the first time, even more so when it’s full.”

He continued: “Chris (Coleman) has gone in there and it’s like trying to stop an oil tanker with a canoe paddle. It’s hard work.

Fit-again Cole Skuse is likely to return to the Town team today. Photo: Steve WallerFit-again Cole Skuse is likely to return to the Town team today. Photo: Steve Waller

“I don’t know what to think of it actually. I’m sometimes at a loss. They’ve been on the brink of going down for the last how many seasons, but somebody has always come in and waved the magic wand to keep them up.

“I feel for Chris because I think he’s a really good guy and he’s proved what he’s worth with the really good job he did with Wales. I don’t feel for him so much that I want to give him any sympathy on Saturday, but I understand how tough the job is when things go wrong at a club like that.

“The bigger the club, the more fans, the more opinions, the more noise, the more media – it’s a really tough place to manage.”

A fit-again Grant Ward could replace David McGoldrick (unspecified knock) in the Town team. Photo: Steve WallerA fit-again Grant Ward could replace David McGoldrick (unspecified knock) in the Town team. Photo: Steve Waller

Opposition lowdown

Manager: Chris Coleman (Nov ‘17: W4 D2 L7)

Last five finishes: 20th, 17th, 16th, 14th, 17th (all Premier League)

Ground: Stadium of Light (49,000 capacity)

Current form: LWLLL WLDWD

Last game: L 3-1 Birmingham (a)

Home record: P14 W2 D5 L7 F14 A21

Top-scorers: Grabban (12), McGeady (5)

Most assists: McGeady, Ndong, Cattermole (3)

January signings: Clarke-Salter, Lua Lua, Fletcher, Camp, Ejaria.

January departures: Grabban, Vaughan, Ndong.

Last meeting

Ipswich Town 5 Sunderland 2

Date: Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Blues produced a performance full of vim and vigour to sweep aside the ailing Black Cats. Martyn Waghorn headed home the opener (6) and then produced assists for Jordan Spence (27), Bersant Celina (50) and David McGoldrick (60). Grant Ward put the icing on the cake (88).

Stat attack

2 – Sunderland home wins since start of 2017

4 – Town goals scored in last eight games

• Town haven’t won at Sunderland since 1989 (D1 L9). Their last trip there was Jan’ 2007.

Ipswich Town team news

• Cole Skuse is available again after missing last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat to Wolves with an ankle injury. He is likely to replace Stephen Gleeson in midfield.

• David McGoldrick, who was subject of late transfer deadline day interest from Bolton, has been ruled out with an unspecified knock. He is likely to be replaced by Grant Ward.

• Winger Mustapha Carayol, who arrived on a free transfer from Nottingham Forest on deadline day, could make his debut.

• Adam Webster could return to first-team action after playing for the U23s on Monday. Tom Adeyemi suffered yet another injury set-back in that game.

• Emyr Huws, Teddy Bishop, Andre Dozzell all remain long-term absentees.

Sunderland team news

• A trio of deadline day loan signings could go straight into the team – keeper Lee Camp (Cardiff), midfielder Ovie Ejaria (Liverpool) and striker Ashley Fletcher (Middlesbrough).

• Veteran defender John O’Shea could return to the team after missing Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat at Birmingham.

• Flair duo Kazenga Lua Lua and Aiden McGeady could be brought into the side.

Opposition key man

Ashley Fletcher

With top-scorer Lewis Grabban recalled by Bournemouth and sent to Aston Villa this month, Sunderland badly needed a replacement striker. Target man Fletcher (above) arrived on Wednesday.

Referee

Darren England (Barnsley)

Games: 25, Yellows: 94, Reds: 2

Odds

Sunderland (8/5)

Draw (23/10)

Ipswich (28/13)

Stu’s prediction

Sunderland 0 Ipswich Town 1

Black Cats in a bad place. Town’s greater experience could be key.

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