We’re back on home turf on Saturday afternoon as Ipswich Town enter the Lions’ Den. Neil Harris’ men have their tails up heading into the game, following victories in their last two home League matches over Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic.
Ipswich approach the fixture as the basement side in the Sky Bet Championship, having won one of their opening 14 games – beaten on Wednesday night at Leeds United. The Lions sit four points and four places above The Tractor Boys, who will look to lift themselves out of their poor run of form.
Founded in 1878, Ipswich Town have been a League football club for the last 80 years. The EFL’s sole representatives from Suffolk, Ipswich boast a significant fanbase and a proud history, peaking in the 1960s and 1970s. Between 1960 and 1963, The Tractor Boys won the Second Division and First Division titles in successive seasons followed by their first European Cup appearance, with Ray Crawford scoring 110 goals across the three seasons. The club made their true mark in Europe in 1981, lifting the UEFA Cup with a 5-4 aggregate victory over AZ Alkmaar in the two-legged Final. Ipswich were crowned FA Cup champions in 1978 after a Final win over Arsenal, and last won promotion from the second tier in 2000, beginning their second Premier League spell. The club were relegated in 2002, and have subsequently spent the last 16 consecutive years at Championship level – managing one Play-Off place in the last 13 seasons but never finishing below 16th.
Ones to Watch
Luke Chambers (4) has earned legendary status in Suffolk after surpassing 280 club appearances at the start of this season, giving the captain the record for Ipswich matches played since the turn of the century. The experienced centre-half is into his seventh campaign at Portman Road, arriving in 2012 after five years at Nottingham Forest. At the age of 33, Chambers not only provides valuable knowhow to Hurst’s side but also maintains his physical prowess on the pitch that has made him a consistent performer at Championship level. A graduate of the Northampton Town academy, Chambers made his first-team debut for The Cobblers in 2003, spending four seasons in the first-team at Sixfields. Chambers boasts promotions from both Leagues One and Two amongst his achievements.
Trevoh Chalobah (6) has been a shining light in a difficult opening stage of the season for Hurst’s team. The defensive midfielder as he has been used this campaign – also adept at the back – made his professional debut only this season after signing on loan from Chelsea, the club at which he followed in the footsteps of older brother Nathaniel, now of Watford and England. Whilst the 19-year-old has not yet made his senior Chelsea debut, he was named by Antonio Conte as a substitute in the club’s triumphant FA Cup Final last season despite having not yet played professionally. A confident, thrilling prospect, Chalobah has made a helpful impact for the team this season – contributing with 11 starts, two goals and an assist from a deep-lying role. The youngster has additionally featured for several England youth sides, most recently the U19s.
Cole Skuse (8) is another engine-room-style midfield player who has spent many years at this level providing advanced cover for defences. Skuse has sat in alongside Chalobah for much of this season, and is able to use his experience to mentor the youngster having played Championship football both with The Tractor Boys and Bristol City for over a decade. Also capable at the back, Skuse began his professional career in 2004 after coming through the Bristol City academy. The midfielder played an integral part in the club’s promotion to the second tier in 2007, and departed Ashton Gate in 2013 after over 300 appearances. Skuse has now made well in excess of 200 outings in a blue shirt, and the 32-year-old is considered one of the key leaders in the dressing room.
Gwion Edwards (7) has enjoyed a positive individual start to life at Portman Road despite the recent struggles of his side, netting three goals since making the move from Peterborough United in the summer – including his team’s strike in a 1-1 derby draw with Norwich City. A direct and exciting wide player, Edwards excelled in the lower divisions of the EFL with The Posh and previously Crawley Town, whom he first joined on loan from Swansea City in 2014. Effective as the first line of defence as well as going forward, Edwards is a popular team player as well as a fans’ favourite in East Anglia, and was called up to the senior Wales squad by Ryan Giggs earlier this month for the first time. The 25-year-old has also represented the U21 and U19 sides for his nation.