Match preview: Fulham v Ipswich Town – Everything you need to know
PUBLISHED: 06:00 02 January 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town take on Fulham, at Craven Cottage, in a Championship match this afternoon. STUART WATSON previews the action.
“Call the police... Because there’s just been a murder on the pitch,” that was Mick McCarthy’s ever-honest assessment after Ipswich Town lost 2-0 at home to Fulham back on August 26.
The Blues had the chance to become the first team in the club’s 81-year professional history to win their opening five league games, but their 100% start was brought to an abrupt end as Slavisa Jokanovic’s visitors passed them to death on Suffolk soil for the second season in a row.
It had been a similar tale on Boxing Day 2016, with the Cottagers having now produced three breathtakingly slick performances against Town when you take into account their 3-1 win at Craven Cottage back in April too.
With Fulham’s classy midfield trio Tom Cairney, Kevin McDonald and Stefan Johnsen having been Town’s tormentors in chief, today looks a daunting task given the Blues have no fewer than eight central midfielders injured, including defensive shield Cole Skuse, who is sitting out a fourth successive game with an ankle injury.
Just goal difference separates the two teams in the middle of the Championship table though, Fulham having languished in the bottom half for a long spell before a recent upturn in form – five wins from eight – lifted them up to 12th.
“I think Fulham are brilliant, a fantastic team and one of the best teams in the league and it’s a real tough place to go and play,” admitted McCarthy.
“They were excellent against us earlier this season, but they’ve lost a few games since so we won’t go there and worry about them. We’ll have a go at them.”
Town have lost seven of their 12 away games this season, coming up short on their travels against top-half teams Wolves, Cardiff, Leeds, Sheffield United, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.
Blues striker Joe Garner said: “Fulham are probably the best side we have played here this season, but they have had an up and down season like oursleves and they are lower than us at the moment.
“They have a budget probably treble than ours, but it is not my job to look at that.
“We have a lot of injuries with a lot of big players out, but the lads who go out there give their best. We will work hard and try and implement what the gaffer wants.”
Overall: P25 W9 D9 L7 F35 A33
Home: P12 W4 D6 L2 F12 A12
Manager: Slavisa Jokanovic (Dec ‘15: Games: 105 W43 D30 L32)
Ground: Craven Cottage (25,700)
Last game: D 2-2 Hull (a)
Last five finishes: 6th, 20th, 17th (all Championship), 19th, 12th (both Premier Lg)
Top-scorers: Johansen, Sessegnon (5), Ojo, Norwood (4), Ayite, Kebano (3)
Most assists: Fredericks (4), Sessegnon (3)Most bookings: Fredericks (7)
– Only four Championship teams have scored less at home than Fulham (13)
– There were six away league wins from 23 for Town in 2017
– Town went six games and 53 years unbeaten at Craven Cottage before last season’s 3-1 loss
– In-form centre-back Adam Webster picked up an Achilles injury in Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Derby. That means Tommy Smith, who made only six starts in the whole of 2017 after back surgery, could partner Luke Chambers in defence.
– Cole Skuse is likely to sit out a fourth successive game with an ankle problem. Town have eight central midfielders sidelined – Emyr Huws, Teddy Bishop and Andre Dozzell all ruled out for the season, with Tom Adeyemi, Luke Hyam, Flynn Downes and Tristan Nydam not yet ready to return.
– Kieffer Moore is back in the Blues squad for the first time following his loan recall from Rotherham. The 6ft 5in striker scored 13 goals in League One during the first half of the season.
– Aboubakar Kamara, Neeskens Kebano and Lucas Piazon are all pushing for starts after stepping off the bench and helping Fulham battle back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Hull on Saturday.
Fulham (4-3-3): Bettinelli; Odoi, Ream, Kalas, Fredericks; McDonald, Cairney, Johansen; Kamara, Kebano, Sessegnon.
Ipswich (4-2-3-1): Bialkowski; Spence, Chambers, Smith, Knudsen; Ward, Connolly; McGoldrick, Waghorn, Celina; Garner.
Ipswich 0 Fulham 2
Date: Saturday, August 26, 2017
Town’s 100% start to the Championship season was brought to an abrupt end as they were thoroughly outclassed. Neeskens Kebano (35) and Rui Fonte (51) scored, Fulham twice hit the post and Bartosz Bialkowski made a string of saves.
Keith Stroud (Hampshire)
Games: 15, Yellows: 70, Reds: 5
Fulham 3 Ipswich 0
Fulham getting their act together, while injuries are beginning to bite for Town.