Ipswich Town - Newcastle United

After eight rounds, Tractor Boys still don’t have a win and from pre-season play-off contenders became a team that probably will struggle to avoid relegation. Popular Keano entered the season with very solid team, but also faced with the riot in the dressing room and some players are written off. Lately, team has been showing the signs of progress, but it seems they still play under the pressure of big expectations, especially at their Portman Road. At their home, three draws (Leicester, Preston and N.Forest) and one defeat (C. Palace), so far. From these clubs, only Preston perhaps could be considered as a top Championship team. Today’s opponent is the strongest so far, pressure permanently raises and in case of convincing defeat Keano’s position would be everything but safe. Midfielder Jack Colback and striker Tamas Priskin are pushing for starts after coming off the bench to score in last weekend's 3-3 draw at Doncaster. Defender Gareth McAuley is back after a ban but is doubtful with a calf injury. The Blues have only won one of their last nine games against Newcastle in all competitions and if lose they will have made their worst ever start to a Football League season.

Newcastle came in the season with big turbulences within the club. One period nobody knew who will be the club’s owner, manager or which players remain in the club. But all these concerns haven’t affected the players too much. Magpies have noticed six wins (draw and a defeat) in opening eight rounds and occupied a spot that guarantees a direct promotion. Beside that, they made the best defense record in league, keeping five clean sheets and leaking only four goals. However, team noticed two consecutive defeats on the road. First, faced with big injury problems, Newcastle weren’t capable to resist against Blackpool (1-2), than in Cup encounter with just two regular players lost vs. Peterborough (0-2). Those two games showed it won’t be as easy as it seemed in one moment. Players are fully focused again and situation with the injuries becomes better. Marlon Harewood came from Aston Villa on loan deal to substitute long time injured key striker Shola Ameobi. Excellent Argentinean Jonas Gutierrez won’t be in action for a while. Midfielders Joey Barton (foot) and Danny Guthrie (one-game ban) also won’t appear today, while full-back Danny Simpson is doubtful with an ankle injury. But, manager Chris Hughton has a “long bench” and these missings should be adequate covered. 

For home side it is obvious even now, there won’t be any promotion race this season and the middle of the table could be the highest achievement. Some improvements are visible, but I doubt it can be upgraded against maybe the best league team. For me, Newcastle are the big favorite here. Away win should be treated as a gamble bet, but additional covering a draw seems as a very safe option. High stake.

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