|Ipswich Town 1 v 2 West Bromwich Albion|
Friday, 23rd November 2018 Kick-off 19:45
Lambert: West Brom Will Be Close to Promotion But Everybody's Beatable on Their Day
Thursday, 22nd Nov 2018 11:02
Boss Paul Lambert expects Friday’s opponents West Brom to be promotion challengers this season but says everybody’s beatable on their day. Town go into the live Sky game bottom of the table, five points plus goal difference from safety, while the Baggies are fifth, five points off the top (Sky Sports Football/Main Event from 7pm/7.30pm).
Given the Blues’ current position Lambert believes his team, who will be backed by a crowd of more than 20,000 with the club running a ticket promotion at the match, need to go out to win every match if they are to climb away from the foot of the table. However, he says that’s the way he tries to play anyway.
“We have to, yes,” he said. “But I don't play any other way, I'll go for it. We have too many people coming not to try and entertain them as well.
“I don't play the game any other way, it's no secret I try and play with energy and on the front foot.
“Everybody's beatable on their day over the course of the season. I still expect West Brom to be high up the league, whether they get promoted or play-offs, I think they'll be close to it with the squad they've got.
“But any given game, you can win. That's normal. We're in an entertainment business, we have to go out and play the way I think we can play and get the crowd onside, and we'll go and play as well as we have been."
Lambert says it’s crucial that Town avoid the drop into League One: “We have to. We've only come in a couple of games ago. Sometimes you can sleepwalk into things, then all of a sudden it hits you. That's what happened here, I think.
“But that's football, it happens. If it wasn't Ipswich it'd be somebody else. We're in a position to rectify it and we'll do everything we can, we'll give it 100 per cent. If we keep doing what we're doing, we'll be totally okay.”
The Baggies went into the international break on a high having returned to form after a run of four games without a win - three defeats, one draw - by beating high-flying Leeds 4-1 at home.
“They did,” Lambert reflected. “Leeds played well, I watched the game and Leeds played very tight.
“They [West Brom] are one of the favourites to go back up, they've just come down, they've kept most of their players and added to it.
“I think Darren [Moore] has done a really good job since he took over. They'll still be there or thereabouts.
“But this is a different game from what it would have been a couple of weeks ago, that's for sure.
“We'll be ready for it. I can't predict the result, as I always say, but we'll be ready for the game.
“We're looking forward to it, we're playing with a lot of confidence at the minute, a lot of momentum. We certainly don't look like a team at the bottom of the table, that's for sure.”
Lambert may well stick with the same XI he has fielded in his two previous games in charge of the Blues, both of which ended in draws, 1-1 with Preston at Portman Road and 2-2 away at Reading.
That would see Bartosz Bialkowski start in goal with Jordan Spence at right-back, Jonas Knudsen at left-back and skipper Luke Chambers and Matthew Pennington at the centre of the defence.
In midfield, Cole Skuse would take up his usual holding role with Trevoh Chalobah and Flynn Downes ahead of him.
Up front, Jordan Roberts is again likely to play down the middle with Freddie Sears on the left and Gwion Edwards on the right.
West Brom head coach Darren Moore has confirmed that midfielders Chris Brunt (hamstring) and Gareth Barry (calf) are available again after injury, however, defender Kyle Bartley remains out with a knee problem.
Moore says his squad have had a positive international break on the training ground following their win against Leeds.
"The players' voices have been good this week," he told the Baggies official website. "They've been vibrant.
"It was a good performance in the last game but it's one not to rest on.
"We've got another important game and we're looking to continue the form that we've shown.
"When you've got near to a full-strength squad it helps to implement ideas. You're able to build shapes, formations, understanding.
"Having a clear week helps create dynamics to the play you want to take into the coming period."
West Brom are yet to win a match straight after an international break, something he hopes changes on Friday.
He added: "You never want to come off a break and hit bad form. Nor do you want to do it during the season but that's the industry we're in.
"We hit a slight dip in form but we've been working extremely hard to play at our full potential.
"We have to keep that belief, energy and that style of play going to make sure that bad run doesn't happen again."
The teams last met in the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup at Portman Road back in December 2010 when then-skipper Grant Leadbitter’s second-half penalty was enough to give the Blues a 1-0.
It could have been a more comfortable victory with Roy Keane’s Blues missing a number of other chances, having had a first half penalty turned down.
The previous season, as Albion marched into the Premier League, the teams drew 1-1 in January at Portman Road, Leadbitter again netting from the spot and Brunt grabbing the equaliser in the final minute.
In the preceding August, Town were defeated 2-0 at the Hawthorns with Youssuf Mulumbu and Robert Koren on the scoresheet.
Overall, Town have won 33 games between the sides (30 in the league), West Brom 21 (20) with 16 (14) ending in draws.
One member of the Baggies’ squad has played for the Blues, midfielder Jake Livermore, who made eight starts and four sub appearances for Town during a loan spell between September 2010 and January 2011.
Full-back Conor Townsend was the subject of an offer from the Blues in the summer but lost out to West Brom when the former Hull City man left Scunthorpe.
Friday’s referee is Keith Stroud from Hampshire, who has shown 19 yellow cards and no red in seven games so far this season.
Stroud’s last Town match was the 4-0 victory at Reading in April in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.
He also refereed the 4-1 defeat at Fulham in January in which he red-carded Spence and booked Chambers, Joe Garner, Callum Connolly, Martyn Waghorn and three Cottagers.
Prior to that he was in charge of the 2-2 home draw with Sheffield Wednesday in November last year when he booked Skuse and one Owl. However, he failed to issue a card of either colour for Glenn Loovens’s groin-high horror challenge on David McGoldrick.
He also took control of the Blues’ 1-1 draw at Leeds in February of last year in which he booked only Knudsen.
Stroud was the man in the middle of the 3-2 win at Wigan in December 2016, awarding the Blues a contentious penalty, which was converted by Brett Pitman, and booked the striker, Andre Dozzell, Tom Lawrence and three home players.
Before that the veteran official was in charge of the 4-2 victory over Barnsley at Portman Road on the opening day of 2016/17 when he also awarded the Blues a penalty which was converted by McGoldrick. He booked Kevin Bru, Teddy Bishop and three Tykes.
He refereed the 3-2 home victory over the MK Dons in the final home match of 2015/16, in which he booked Tommy Smith and one opposition player and awarded the visitors a spotkick.
Stroud officiated in the 1-1 home draw with Birmingham in September 2015 in which he gave the Blues another penalty, again netted by Pitman, which was bitterly disputed by the visitors when Ainsley Maitland-Niles was felled by Jonathan Spector. He booked Christophe Berra, Jonathan Douglas and two visiting players.
A former Premier League referee and one-time FIFA assistant, Stroud also refereed the 3-2 defeat at Brighton in January 2015, the 1-0 derby defeat to Norwich at Portman Road in August 2014 and Town’s 1-0 home victory over Birmingham in March of the same year.
Squad from: Bialkowski, Gerken, Spence, Knudsen, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Pennington, Nsiala, Donacien, Skuse, Chalobah, Downes, Dozzell, Edun, Nolan, Bishop, Edwards, Ward, Rowe, Roberts, Sears, Jackson, Lankester.
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