• Championship Preview: Ipswich Town v Brighton and Hove Albion

    With their four game unbeaten run ended at the hands of Brentford at the weekend, Brighton have a chance to get straight back to winning ways three days on from then.

    Sami Hyypia’s men are on the road for the second game in the row, with an evening fixture in Suffolk as they take on an Ipswich side that are always tricky to face.

    Under the stewardship of Mick McCarthy The Tractor Boys have made steady progress in the past few years in the Championship, and like Albion will no doubt be hoping for a strong showing this season.

    Unsurprisingly, history shows that it’s the home side who may have the advantage tonight, having won 29 of the matches between the two sides in the past 76 years, with Albion winning 22 games, with another 13 between them ending all square.

    Last season it was the former Premier League club that had our number in the league, with Oscar Garcia and his players on the end of 2-0 defeats both at Portman Road and the Amex. From the starting XI for the away tie around this time last September, only four of the players are still at the club, once again highlighting how much our squad has changed in that period.

    The Seagull’s last victory of the tie came on New Years Day in 2013. After a dismal and winless Christmas period under Gus Poyet, it was this trip that got the season back on track for Albion. Dean Hammond and Craig Mackaill-Smith popped up with goals in the first half, with Wayne Bridge netting a third in the second.

    CMS' last goal before his long term injury came at Ipswich

    In fact, that strike for the Scotland international was the last time he scored a league goal before grabbing the equaliser in the 2-1 home win over Bolton last month.

    With such a tight schedule in September, there’s every chance that Sami Hyypia will rotate some of the starting XI from the 3-2 defeat at Griffin Park.

    In the back four, there is a case to be made for at least two changes possibly being made. With Hyypia commenting after Saturday’s game that Albion ”were not convincing defensively, and we made it too easy for Brentford to get behind us and score”, it opens the possibility of him changing things around.

    After a shaky first half performance against the Bees and having already picked up a yellow card, Lewis Dunk was brought off at half time and replaced by Aaron Hughes.

    The 22-year old has had a great start to the season since ousting Hughes from the starting line-up alongside Greer, and could maybe do with a one game break to get his confidence back, with the Northern Irishman filling in. However keeping faith with him could do his confidence the world of good also.

    Inigo Calderon played all 90 minutes at the weekend, therefore with so many games coming up in a small period of time, rotating him out for Bruno is a logical switch to keep things fresh.

    In midfield, a case could be made for a number of players to come in to help give more defensive support for the side. Albion’s system of playing with wingbacks and looking to go forward more often has led to exiting football being played, but more often than not we have been exposed at the back. So far we have only kept one clean sheet this season, and this highlights the change in approach between Sami and his predecessors at the Amex.

    Gary Gardner would look to be the most likely man to drop out of the starting line-up, with a case to be made for either Jake Forster-Caskey or Rohan Ince filling in for him as part of the midfield three.

    Hughes be in line for place in the back four at Portman Road

    In the more attacking roles, it’s a possibility that Craig Mackail-Smith could come in for either Adrian Colunga or Sam Baldock, but it’s unlikely.

    In the past 10 years, a whole host of players have represented both Albion and the Tractor Boys. Current Seagulls shot stopper David Stockdale spent one of his many loan spells away from Fulham at Portman Road, making 11 appearances for them in 2011. The Withdean era saw three players on Ipswich’s books sent down to the south coast for loan spells- Dean Bowditch (twice), Matt Richards (three times) and George O’Callaghan.

    One player who is memorable both for his time on and off the field with Albion, and remembered as a great player for the Blues is Mauricio Taricco.

    After one year playing in his home country, the Argentine’s first move abroad saw him join the Suffolk side for around £150,000. He went on to cement a legacy there as a cult icon and club legend, making 189 appearances in a five-year spell, that also saw him voted as the fan’s player of the year during the 1996-97 season. He also spent five years at White Hart Lane with his next club, Tottenham, where he forged a relationship with teammate Gus Poyet that saw him made assistant when the Uruguayan was appointed Seagulls boss in 2009.

    During his time at the club, the former left back came out of retirement after six years for an FA Cup game at Woking in November 2010, aged 37, where he was sent off in extra time. He had another spell on the pitch to make up the numbers during an injury crisis on the club’s return to the Championship in 2011, however his sending off against Southampton was the last time he pulled on the stripes, making 15 appearances during his comeback whilst assistant to Poyet.

    Having ended their run of six games without a win, the home side will be confident playing in their own back yard, where Albion have rarely done well at.

    With our own unbeaten run falling at the wayside to Brentford, Sami will want to see a quick response from his players to a defensive performance that was not what was expected. Whilst Albion have shown they have the capability to score goals – even if the majority have come from defenders recently – they have yet to prove themselves as a solid defensive outfit this season.

    That will be a hard to achieve against McCarthy’s side, who never make it easy for teams to play their game. If Albion want to pick up points this evening, they will have to earn it, both up top, and perhaps more crucially, at the back.
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