Our Norwich City pundits tackle the thorny issue of the East Anglian derby...
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Derby day is almost upon us so we thought we'd ask our regular Norwich City pundits for their thoughts – and a prediction – ahead of the game.
With just goal difference separating the two clubs, the derby promises once again to be a tight exciting encounter down at Carrow Road.
With just one league defeat in their last nine games I make Norwich favourites to once again send the old enemy packing back down the A140. Ipswich have won just two of their last nine games and even though they've scored more goals this season than Norwich they've only scored two or more goals in one of those nine games. With James Maddison in magnificent form he could well be the difference, as he was at Portman Road earlier in the season. I've a sneaky feeling Nelson Oliveira, with a point to prove, could well be back to his best and the form he showed last season and the beginning of this one. If Ipswich are to taste victory for the first time in nine meetings between the two clubs then joint top scorers Martin Waghorn and James Garner (10 goals each) will have a say.
But I can't see anything but a City win and they will leapfrog Ipswich in the table for the first time in a good few weeks.
Prediction: City 2 Town 0
- 1 Man dies after collapsing during dog walk in Norfolk village
- 2 A47 reopens after serious crash near Swaffham
- 3 Carriageway of A11 remains closed after air ambulance called to crash
- 4 7 of the prettiest villages in north Norfolk
- 5 Recycling centre closures planned as part of £15m County Hall cuts
- 6 Customers travelling especially to visit charming new café at fishery
- 7 Drink driving teacher crashed into church wall with baby in car
- 8 Police called after sudden death at home near Norwich
- 9 Family sue Wetherspoon after man falls to death in city pub
- 10 Classic car show back this weekend with over 700 vehicles
For the first time in a long while, any outsider looking in could be forgiven for thinking parity exists once more in East Anglia.
After Town's fine start to the campaign, and City's stuttering rollercoaster ride, the sides sit equal on points in the Championship table. That only paints half the picture. Stagnation and mediocrity pervades throughout Suffolk, the sad acceptance this is a club in decline is brought into sharp focus by dwindling attendances. The feeling inside Norfolk is altogether different. The baby steps of a brave project which could yield longer term rewards have been taken. The emergence of James Maddison strikes either fear of loathing into opposition hearts, while a resolute backline provides the perfect base to build from. Things are positive right now.
Whether that manifests itself into a positive result is anybody's guess. Derby day will forever feel like a cup final to me, where form goes firmly out of the window. Regardless of the result, it's relatively safe to assume City are on the right path to future prosperity.
Prediction: City 1 Town 0
The interesting dynamic going into this derby is that momentum is fully with us, yet Ipswich are still above us in the table.
We go into this off the back of just one defeat in 10 in all competitions and playing some really decent football.
Ipswich, on the other hand, go into this off the back of a 0-0 draw against bottom of the table Burton Albion played in front of under 14,000 fans – the lowest league attendance since October 1998 at Portman Road.
We're certainly still very much in a transition period but it feels as if we're heading in the right direction – Ipswich Town have been in the same place for the past 16 seasons and don't look like moving anytime soon.
Although form does go out of the window, it feels as if we just have a bit too much quality for Ipswich and a home crowd always helps.
It almost feels written in the script that Nelson ends his goal drought here too.
Prediction: City 2 Town 0
I feel this one is there for the taking for Norwich.
The league table is not telling the full story.
Norwich City have a much stronger squad than Ipswich and are upwardly mobile, while Town are going nowhere fast.
As long as the players don't freeze on the big occasion, the will of the home crowd – the size of which the visitors won't be used to – should see them take the bragging rights once again.
Ipswich don't have a player as good as James Maddison, and they will have their hands full trying to keep him quiet.
I can see him being fouled a lot, but that's happened in almost every game this season.
Yes, I'm wary of the confidence I have coming back to haunt me.
I hope it's a good game and that City win – the draws both at Portman Road and at Carrow Road last season were an anti-climax.
Prediction: City 3 Town 0
Sunday's derby is interestingly poised as the game which could essentially diminish one of, if not both, teams' hopes of reaching this season's play-offs.
An injection of fresh faces in the January transfer window has reinvigorated hopes of a late run at the play-offs.
But with the current average of 1.4 points per game, a 65-point tally at our current rate will see us fall far short of the top six, so from here on in it's a case of win or bust to start clawing back the deficit.
This season, and the next, is likely to entail numerous ups and downs as financial and cultural transitions find their feet, so promotion feels just beyond our reach this year.
However, the local bragging rights are still at stake.
But with Tom Trybull out and both Josh Murphy and Nelson Oliveira retaining their positions but out of form, we may struggle to find enough in the side to grind out another win.
Prediction: City 1 Town 1
Who else is looking forward to derby day being over for another season?
As a Norwich City fan I feel like with each time we avoid defeat, the pressure mounts up.
Our home form is notably not great. However, the neighbours' away form isn't that grand either.
It's going to be a close one for me.
Mick McCarthy will sit his team tight in the first half and aim to further frustrate Nelson Oliveira.
Sparks will fly, for sure.
Set-pieces will be key for Town this time around too.
If Daniel Farke can ensure we attack from the first whistle and get that first goal, we 'should' be all okay.
Moritz Leitner will need to be our main man to break them down as quickly as possible.
My heart says 1-0 City, my head says a very frustrating 1-1 draw.
But then they're due a win, surely?...
Prediction: City 1 Town 1
Norwich and Ipswich represent two different approaches to the Championship challenge.
Forward thinking redesign verses a tried, tested and relatively stale approach.
The challenge for both is neither approach is delivering consistent results or the desired play-off challenge. A dead rubber with only local pride to play for?
Norwich's fortunes are on the up, fuelled by a very un-Norwich like solid defensive base.
Ipswich remain stubborn Championship middle of the road. Difficult to beat; lacking excitement. The lack of goals would suggest a 1-0 win.
But it's the derby. Come on! It's heart ruling head time after all. The goal-scoring will click, with Moritz Leitner and James Maddison the keys to that victory with the added finesse our Suffolk neighbours lack. For once the goal-scoring will click, and we'll deal with the aerial bombardment of a Mick McCarthy team; with one notable exception.
Prediction: City 3 Town 1
After many years of Norwich City having the upper hand over our bitter rivals from down the road, it appeared early in the season the tide was starting to turn.
Especially the start that lot had. Up until recently, many of their fans were saying what they were saying back in 2015. And that was 'mind the gap'. Like 2015, it appears those Ipswich fans may have to eat those words, starting Sunday. The longer the season has gone on, the team Farke built has gone from strength to strength. I believe we have a far stronger and better side than Ipswich. On paper we should beat them.
But my biggest concern is Mick McCarthy. He may not be popular with the Blues fans but in my opinion he is a wily old fox and I do fear him bringing his side to totally frustrate our game.
And it is that fear that I fear most. Sadly with that in mind, I think it will be a frustrating afternoon with it being, in my opinion a goalless draw.
Prediction: City 0 Town 0