Ipswich v West Ham
On last season's form West Ham would no doubt have been proud to be placed three points ahead of UEFA Cup entrants Ipswich at this early stage of the campaign, but after similarly dismal starts, the two clubs find themselves locked in the wrong half of the table.
However, following back-to-back league wins the Hammers will be hoping that they have turned the corner, especially after suffering massive defeats at Everton and Blackburn in recent weeks. Manager Glenn Roeder blames Sky television for adding unnecessary pressure to the job, claiming: "The hype has got bigger over the last 10 years with the advent of Sky." No doubt the boss was overjoyed to learn that this latest clash is to be televised!
But the journey to Portman Road may not prove overly daunting at present, considering that George Burley's beleaguered team have not tasted a league victory for over two months. This clash therefore presents a must-win scenario for the twin purposes of morale and confidence in the Ipswich camp.
Last term exquisite passing and constant movement off the ball were the secret of the Tractors Boys' success, yet this year the fluency is not as evident and the team are struggling to take their chances. Ipswich have fired in the second-highest tally of shots this season and have tested the 'keeper with 44% of their efforts - eight percentage points better than the Hammers - but have only netted a goal a game on average.
Similarly, West Ham have been less than prolific and have actually failed to score on four separate occasions. But with Freddie Kanoute returning to full fitness the east Londoners are beginning to pose more of a threat in the final third and their main concern now lies in shoring up the back line.
An average of 1.89 strikes per game have plundered the Hammers' rearguard and if this remained a fixed rate, by the end of the campaign Roeder's side would have conceded a staggering total of 72 goals - two more than last season's bottom club Bradford.
But a clean sheet against Saints and a win over Chelsea in midweek will have restored a degree of confidence ahead of Sunday's tie and perhaps some 'positive' Sky coverage beforehand will contribute further to a first West Ham away win of the campaign. Online bookmakers Hammers Bet are offering odds of 8/1 on the claret-and-blues putting some distance between themselves and Ipswich with a sneaky 1-0 victory.
Mark Willis Match referee: S. Dunn
Steve Dunn is currently the fifth-strictest official in the Premiership and has dished out an average of 5.75 cards per game. He has already dismissed three players this term so Ipswich and West Ham would be advised to tread carefully.
Referee's Name FoulsPenaltiesYellow CardsRed CardsAve Disc pointsS. Dunn 148 1 17 3 55.00
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Ipswich boss George Burley is set to stick with the same personnel and formation which fought back from 3-1 down to earn a draw at Southampton in midweek. Finidi George and Titus Bramble will again be absent at Upton Park with face and ankle injuries respectively.
Tomas Repka begins the second suspension of his short east-end career following his red card at Blackburn.
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Match Result IpswichevensDraw9/4West Ham9/4Correct Score Ipswich 1-06/1Ipswich 2-015/2Ipswich 2-17/1Ipswich 3-014/1Ipswich 3-114/1Ipswich 3-225/1Ipswich 4-040/1Ipswich 4-133/1Ipswich 4-250/1Ipswich 5-0100/1Ipswich 5-1100/1Draw 0-08/1Draw 1-111/2Draw 2-214/1Draw 3-350/1West Ham 1-08/1West Ham 2-012/1West Ham 2-111/1West Ham 3-033/1West Ham 3-128/1West Ham 3-228/1West Ham 4-0100/1West Ham 4-1100/1West Ham 4-2100/1West Ham 5-0100/1Double Result Ipswich/Ipswich12/5Ipswich/Draw16/1Ipswich/West Ham33/1Draw/Ipswich4/1Draw/Draw7/2Draw/West Ham6/1West Ham/Ipswich25/1West Ham/Draw16/1West Ham/West Ham5/1First Goalscorer M Stewart4/1A Armstrong5/1P Counago11/2R Naylor6/1M Reuser7/1S Peralto12/1M Holland14/1T Miller14/1J Magilton16/1J Wright20/1H Hreidarsson20/1J Clapham25/1G Croft33/1T Gaardsoe33/1M Venus33/1P Wilnis40/1C Makin50/1J Mcgreal66/1No Goalscorer8/1F Kanoute13/2P Di Canio7/1J Defoe8/1S Todorov8/1P Kitson9/1D Hutchison10/1T Sinclair14/1Carrick16/1S Moncur20/1Courtois25/1Mccann25/1H Foxe40/1C Dailly40/1S Schmemel40/1R Song50/1S Potts50/1R Soma50/1N Winterburn50/1
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