Can the Blues beat Norwich to the local bragging rights this season?
PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 March 2018 | UPDATED: 17:23 23 March 2018
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While much of the focus at Ipswich Town is on resolving matters off the pitch between now and the end of the season, on the field the Blues are battling to finish above local rivals Norwich.
With a late run for the play-offs almost certainly out of the question, the two old foes are currently locked on 52 points with eight games remaining and are both on runs which has seen them each take nine points from their last eight matches.
The future of manager Mick McCarthy, the upcoming release of season ticket prices and the direction of the club have all distracted from business on the field, but finishing above their local rivals would allow the Blues to salvage some success from a season that started well and has tailed off since.
Norwich have had the better of the two East Anglian Derbies this season, winning at Portman Road in October and then securing a last gasp draw in the return fixture in February.
Both take on a mix of sides pushing for the Premier League and those battling relegation in the final weeks of the season, so who will finish on top?
Birmingham v Ipswich - D
Norwich v Fulham - L
Birmingham seemed to find their feet under Garry Monk in their last outing as they beat Hull 3-0 to halt a run of seven straight defeats. It leaves them in the final relegation place, meaning Town can expect a scrap at St Andrew’s.
Norwich, on the other hand, host a Fulham side pushing for promotion and who have dismantled Ipswich twice this season. Norwich are well-organised but the Cottagers should have enough to break them down.
Predicted points: Ipswich 53, Norwich 52
Ipswich v Millwall - W
QPR v Norwich - D
Ipswich’s home clash with Millwall will be their first since the tough home loss to Hull and a game they enter without a goal in five games at Portman Road. It probably won’t be pretty, but surely that run will end against a Lions side which has performed above expectations.
It’s a visit to Loftus Road for Daniel Farke’s Norwich, where the draw specialists should be good for at least a point.
Predicted points: Ipswich 56, Norwich 53
Brentford v Ipswich - D
Norwich v Aston Villa - L
By this point the Blues have opened up a three-point lead over their local rivals, per our predictions, with that gap becoming four as the Blues take a point from their visit to Griffin Park while Norwich take the defeat in another tough home game.
Predicted points: Ipswich 57, Norwich 53
Ipswich v Barnsley - W
Sunderland v Norwich - W
The final midweek round of the season brings about two winnable games. Ipswich welcome Kieffer Moore’s Barnsley to Portman Road and will back themselves to secure three points against a Tykes side battling the drop, while Norwich should take advantage of a Sunderland side who look to be heading to League One.
Predicted points: Ipswich 60, Norwich 56
Nottingham Forest v Ipswich - L
Norwich v Cardiff - D
The Blues have not won at the City Ground since 1999 and, with the Reds unbeaten in seven under new boss Aitor Karanka, that run could easily continue.
A third home game in this run for Norwich against promotion contenders. The games with Fulham and Aston Villa have been put down as defeats, but in this clash with Cardiff two sides who are hard to beat should match each other toe-to-toe.
Predicted points: Ipswich 60, Norwich 57
Ipswich v Aston Villa - L
Preston v Norwich - D
The Villa promotion train roles into Ipswich for the Blues’ penultimate home game, with Steve Bruce’s men likely to either be in the thick of the automatic promotion race or secure in the play-offs. Either way, if the visitors produce a similarly clinical display to the one they managed when the two sides met at Villa Park (2-0 home win), they are likely to leave with three points.
Preston and Norwich have 28 draws between them this season, with another likely at Deepdale.
Predicted points: Ipswich 60, Norwich 58
Reading v Ipswich - D
Norwich v Leeds - W
The Blues have not won at Reading since 2009 and, with Paul Clement now appointed in place of Jaap Stam, the hosts can potentially expect an upturn in form between now and the end of the season.
Leeds have won just once in their last 15 games and have not won away since Boxing Day, giving Norwich a good chance of ending their Carrow Road season on a high.
Predicted points: Ipswich 61, Norwich 61
Ipswich v Middlesbrough - W
Sheffield Wednesday v Norwich - D
So, if our predictions go according to plan, the two great rivals head into the final game of the season locked on points, in what could potentially be Mick McCarthy’s final game in charge depending on the outcome of talks between the Blues boss and Marcus Evans. A decision will almost certainly have been made and announced at this point, so McCarthy’s players will be giving their all to send a manager they greatly respect out on a high.
Meanwhile, in Sheffield, Norwich clock up their 17th draw of the season as the Blues take the local bragging rights.
Predicted points: Ipswich 64, Norwich 62