‘Draw? I’d take a win!’ – Paul Lambert looking forward to his Stoke City return

PUBLISHED: 16:49 07 December 2018

Paul Lambert spent the first five months of this year in charge of Stoke City. Photo: PA

Paul Lambert spent the first five months of this year in charge of Stoke City. Photo: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Ipswich Town take on Stoke City in a Championship match at the bet365 Stadium this afternoon (3pm ko). STUART WATSON previews the action.

Lambert signed a two-and-a-half year contract at Stoke but was sacked after the Potters were relegated from the Premier League. Photo: PALambert signed a two-and-a-half year contract at Stoke but was sacked after the Potters were relegated from the Premier League. Photo: PA

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert hopes he gets a good reception on his return to Stoke City this afternoon.

The Scot replaced Mark Hughes at the bet365 Stadium on January 16 when the Potters were 18th in the Premier League. He had just 15 games in charge – two wins and seven draws not enough to prevent the Staffordshire club sliding out of the top-flight for the first time in a decade.

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“I had an absolutely brilliant time,” said Lambert. “We were so close, we were a penalty or an own goal away from staying up.

“We went to Leicester, played ever so well and drew 1-1. West Ham was an incredible game, we drew 1-1 there when they scored in the last minute. We go to Anfield and get a really good draw.

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“We just fell short, but effort wise the players – (Peter) Crouchy, wee Joe (Allen), Jack (Butland), Erik (Peters), Bruno (Martins Indi), I could go through them all – they gave me everything.

“It was really tough because it’s a club I thought would never go down, but it just shows you it can happen.”

Lambert oversaw just two wins during his 15 games in charge of Stoke. Photo: PALambert oversaw just two wins during his 15 games in charge of Stoke. Photo: PA

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Lambert, who has been reunited at Portman Road with two of his Stoke staff members in assistant Stuart Taylor and fitness coach Jim Henry, continued: “I think everyone will be good with us. I think the crowd saw we gave everything. I don’t think anyone could close the door on us and say we didn’t give it a real good go.

“We came at a hard time in a really unforgiving league. We drew too many games, that was the bottom line.”

MORE: Lambert hopes to make signings as soon as January transfer window opens

Stoke were the Championship’s pre-season title favourites, but Gary Rowett’s men find themselves 12th and seven points adrift of the play-off places at present.

“I think them and West Brom were always my tips to go up,” said Lambert. “They still might get in that top two, but they probably thought they would be up there already.

“They’ve kept a lot of the lads from the Premier League and maybe should be higher than what they are.”

MORE: ‘It’s a blow’ – Lambert reveals Skuse suffers knee injury in training

Lambert has been reunited with his former Stoke assistant Stuart Taylor at Ipswich, as well as fitness coach Jim Henry. Photo: PALambert has been reunited with his former Stoke assistant Stuart Taylor at Ipswich, as well as fitness coach Jim Henry. Photo: PA

Asked if he would take a draw today, Lambert – whose side are seven points adrift of safety at the foot of the table – replied: “No, I’d take a win!

“Listen, I know how hard it’s going to be. It’s a brilliant place to go and play, but we’ll go there and I’ll do everything I can to try and win. I think everybody at Stoke will know that as well.”

Stat attack

8 – Points Stoke have dropped from winning positions

12 – Points Town have dropped from winning positions

9 – Lambert’s managerial record in 2018 is nine draws from 20 games (seven for Stoke, two for Ipswich)

Gwion Edwards sat out last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest with a sore ankle but is available again today. Photo: PagepixGwion Edwards sat out last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest with a sore ankle but is available again today. Photo: Pagepix

Opposition lowdown

Manager: Gary Rowett (May ‘18): P22 W7 D9 L6

Last five finishes: 19th, 13th, 9th, 9th, 9th (all Premier League)

Last 10 games: DWDDD WDLWW

Last game: D 2-2 Reading (a)

Last home attendance: 25,147

Margin of victory: 1 (x4), 2 (x3)

Margins of defeat: 1 (x4), 2 (x2), 3 (x1)

Jack Lankester (left) could be part of  avery youthful looking Ipswich midfield today. Photo: Steve WallerJack Lankester (left) could be part of avery youthful looking Ipswich midfield today. Photo: Steve Waller

Top-scorers: Afobe (6), Ince (5), Berahino (4)

Most league apps: Butland, Allen (20), Ince, Martin Indi, Pieters (17)

Home form: W4 D3 L3 F12 A11

Last meeting

Stoke City 1 Ipswich Town 0

Date: Saturday, February 23, 2008

Stoke stayed top of the Championship after Liam Lawrence beat Stephen Bywater with a 25-yard strike.

Cole Skuse has been ruled out with a knee injury suffered in training. Photo: Steve WallerCole Skuse has been ruled out with a knee injury suffered in training. Photo: Steve Waller

Town fell out of the play-off places as Jim Magilton was sent to the stands in the second half after complaining about the Potter’s multi-ball system.

Ipswich Town team news

–Cole Skuse faces a spell on the sidelines after suffering a knee injury in training.

– Gwion Edwards sat out last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest with a sore ankle but is available again.

– Jordan Roberts, Trevoh Chalobah and Flynn Downes could return to the team after being rested at The City Ground.

– Ellis Harrison could be deemed ready after his recent return to action off the bench.

– Paul Lambert has a decision to make over his choice of goalkeeper following Bartosz Bialkowski’s recent mistakes.

– Emyr Huws and Tom Adeyemi remain on the recovery trail after long-term injuries,

Stoke City team news

– Tom Ince and Sam Clucas both returned to action recently after injuries.

– Nigerian international midfielder Peter Etebo is suspended.

– Boss Gary Rowett started with a 4-2-3-1 system at Reading last weekend, but brought on veteran duo Ashley Williams and Darren Fletcher and switched to a wing-back formation after his side went 2-1 up. They ended up conceding a late equaliser to make it four draws in six.

Opposition key man

Tom Ince

The 26-year-old former Blackpool, Derby and Huddersfield winger is Stoke’s main attacking outlet on the right. Recently back from injury, he’s scored five goals so far.

Odds

Stoke City 11/21

Draw 10/3

Ipswich Town 17/2

Referee

Geoff Eltringham (County Durham)

Games: 12, Yellows: 34, Reds: 1

Stu’s prediction

Stoke City 2 Ipswich Town 0

Stoke hard to beat and have some Premier class. Fear Town’s youth energy won’ be enough.

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