Clash for the purists
Tuesday January 1st
TONY Mowbray takes free-scoring West Bromwich Albion back to his old stomping ground at Ipswich Town for what promises to be one of the Championship`s games of the season.
The clash at Portman Road sees the Championship table-toppers and the leading goal scorers in all four divisions taking on an Ipswich side with an undefeated home record of ten wins, two draws and no defeats.
It`s a game rich in promise for the football purist.
Albion manager Mowbray, who spent nine years at Ipswich as a player and then coach, has made no secret of his desire to see his team play entertaining football and in the Tractor Boys he comes up against a kindred spirit in boss Jim Magilton, who shares the same attacking philosophy.
Ipswich have been on fire on their own soil this season, scoring 31 times and conceding only seven. They hold the best home record in the Championship.
But it`s been a different story altogether away from Portman Road, where they managed only four draws and nine defeats in their 13 games, conceding 28 goals and scoring only ten times themselves.
Such a poor return from their travels makes their away record the poorest in the division and has kept them in mid-table, though they remain in the hunt for a play-off place.
Ipswich`s unbeaten home run stretches back 16 games, with only Barnsley and Burnley managing to get a point this term, both in goalless draws.
Encouraging from an Albion point of views is that both these slip-ups came during December.
The goals have started to dry up for Magilton`s men in recent games, with only eight scored in nine games in December and 12 conceded.
Albion boss Tony Mowbray told the club's official website: 'Sometimes, these games can be disappointing but I hope it will be an open contest with plenty of quality football.
'It will be a big challenge for us going to Portman Road, where they haven't lost. But we will try to go there and become the first team to upset that record.'
Ipswich Town Team News:
Ipswich are definitely without suspended midfielder Tommy Miller and have doubts over skipper Jason de Vos, Alan Lee and Alex Bruce.
Ipswich squad: Alexander, Supple, Casement, Wright, De Vos, Wilnis, Harding, Haynes, Garvan, Walters, Counago, Lee, Clarke, Rhodes, Richards, Trotter, Williams, Sito, Legwinski.
Player to watch: Pablo Counago
Spanish striker Pablo Counago, in his second spell at Portman Road, is Ipswich`s leading scorer this term with 10 goals.
He usually reserves his best performances for Portman Road.
West Bromwich Albion Team News:
Albion have no injury worries after Saturday's 5-0 defeat of Scunthorpe United.
Ishmael Miller may return to the starting line-up after two substitute appearances since his return from a knee injury.
Andrade Filipe Teixeira and Chris Brunt will also be hoping to return to the starting line-up.
Player to watch: Kevin Phillips
Kevin Phillips is the man Ipswich fear most. He has scored regularly at Portman Road for his various clubs down the years and grabbed a hat-trick in Albion's 5-1 victory at Ipswich last season.
He also scored twice in Albion's 4-0 victory at The Hawthorns in September.
Match Facts & Stats
Albion met Ipswich for the first time in 1961 and since then the Tractor Boys have had the edge, winning 31 times in all competitions. The Baggies have recorded 20 wins and there have been 15 draws.
Hull City v West Bromwich Albion
Saturday January 5
Kick off: 3pm