Baggies closer to full strength in time to face Ipswich

West Bromwich Albion v Ipswich Town; The Hawthorns, Saturday 25th November 2023, 5:30pm

Carlos Corberán will be able to call on the services of both John Swift and Josh Maja for the teatime kick off on Saturday as Albion’s injury problems continue to ease. Having welcomed back Jeremy Sarmiento and Semi Ajayi from lay offs before the international break, it will be a massive boost to welcome two more players back into the matchday squad.

While Josh Maja had only just started to show his worth when he was injured at Bristol City back in September, John Swift was in fine form when he succumbed just before the October international break and his return is significant. Having said that, Albion have fared well in his absence with the unfortunate reverse at Southampton last time out the only defeat while he has been in the treatment room, and there is no guarantee that he will be immediately back in the starting line up. In my opinion, his ability to create something out of nothing, epitomised by the opening goal at St Andrew’s in the game he was injured, should be enough to warrant his starting place, coupled with the knowledge that he rarely has an impact off the bench apparently less able to adjust to the pace of a game late on. Some feel he can slow down play at times, but so far this season, he has probably been Albion’s most influential player and not only because he is their top goalscorer.

Josh Maja’s return to fitness will take some of the pressure off Brandon Thomas-Asante who has endured the last ten weeks as the club’s only senior fit striker. It is a little ironic that the only game BTA hasn’t played a part in during that period was the 4-0 win at Preston, but it will have been a relief when he found the net against QPR to end his goal drought, even if it was from the penalty spot. I would expect BTA to start on Saturday but that Maja will be brought on at some point – with a trip to Cardiff to come on Tuesday, I’m sure that Corberán will be looking to make changes relatively early to keep the squad fresh.

Kieran McKenna brings his team to the Hawthorns with only goal difference keeping them off the top of the table, making a mockery of their “newly-promoted” status. The Tractor Boys spent seventeen successive seasons in the second tier having been relegated from the Premier League in 2002 before the drop to League One in 2019 ended their 63-year stint in the top two divisions. Having endured two-and-a-half difficult seasons in the third tier with Paul Lambert and Paul Cook unable to spark a promotion push, McKenna was appointed to his first managerial position in December 2021. The Ulsterman’s only first team coaching experience had been at Manchester United under Mourinho, Solskjær and Rangnick, but he started well with a run of seven wins from his first ten matches but they were unable to make up the gap to the play-offs that season. In his first full season at Portman Road, Ipswich were hardly ever out of the top three and secured promotion with a game to spare following a 6-0 win over Exeter City. Their 98 points was only good enough for second spot behind Plymouth Argyle, but no side in the division scored more (101) or conceded fewer (35).

While their fellow promoted clubs have struggled at the wrong end of the table, the Tractor Boys have continued their excellent form in the Championship this campaign, winning 12 of their 15 matches and losing just once, a 4-3 home defeat to Leeds United in August. They haven’t been able to keep up their incredible defensive record from League One, however, and have conceded twice in each of their last four league games. At the other end, there are no such problems as they have scored in every league game this season and average more than two goals per game scoring three or more on no less than seven occasions. Those goals have been spread around with six players scoring four or more, and the top spot shared by Conor Chaplin and Nathan Broadhead who have six each. Their goal tally of 36 is seven better than any other side in the division.

On the road, however, they have only scored eleven goals in eight games, and conceded just six – all their away wins have been by the odd goal, and all but one of them has finished 1-0. Those stats suggest that, while Ipswich are undoubtedly the entertainers at Portman Road with a remarkable 40 goals scored in total in their eight home games, McKenna likes to keep things tight on the road, albeit their last two away games finished 2-2!

It will undoubtedly be a tough test for Albion – the Tractor Boys are undefeated on the road this season – but the Baggies should not be lacking in confidence at the Hawthorns with just two defeats on their own patch in the last 12 months. Given the Suffolk team’s scoring record, a clean sheet may be challenging, but with a couple more attacking options at their disposal, Albion should be confident of adding to the visitors’ tally of 21 goals conceded.

The Hull City game was the first in a run of six matches against teams in the top eight – this is the third of those and a win would put the Baggies on a very acceptable six points from nine at the halfway point, with Cardiff City (now 9th), Leicester City (1st) and Sunderland (5th) to complete that batch. As I said before the run, if Albion are in the top six at the end of that run, they are well in the battle for promotion.


Ipswich have been something of a bogie club for the Baggies over the years with the Suffolk club having won close to 50% of the 74 meetings between the clubs since they first met, which was as recently as 1961. Ipswich Town didn’t turn professional until 1936 and only completed one season in the Football League before the outbreak of World War II.

The clubs first met in the 1961/2 season after Alf Ramsay had guided the Tractor Boys from Division Three (South) to the top flight and on their first visit to the Hawthorns in September 1961, they won 3-1 thanks to a double from Doug Moran and another from Ray Crawford – Alec Jackson scored for the Baggies. Ramsay’s side would go on to win the title that season, in their first ever top flight season, and they have not won it since.

That is one of only two occasions that the Tractor Boys have won by more than one goal at the Hawthorns, the other being another 3-1 win in May 1990.

Two years after that first encounter, the Baggies recorded their biggest win over Ipswich when Derek Kevan scored a hat trick, with Alec Jackson, Clive Cark and Keith Smith also finding the net in a 6-1 victory – Ray Crawford scored the visitors’ consolation.

The head-to-head record remained fairly even until the mid-1980s when Ipswich started to gain the upper hand – after the Baggies’ 2-1 home win in January 1984, they wouldn’t record another victory over the Tractor Boys until Gary Megson’s team beat them 4-1 at the Hawthorns in September 2003, a run of 25 games without a win.

The 21st century brought a turnaround in fortunes, however, and Albion have won seven of the twelve meetings since 2000, losing just twice. At the Hawthorns, Albion are unbeaten against Ipswich since March 1999, winning four and drawing two, scoring 14 and conceding just 3. They biggest win in that period was 4-0 in September 2007 – Ishmael Miller’s opener was the only goal until the last few minutes when Filipe Teixeira added a second before Kevin Phillips scored twice in the last two minutes.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion L D W W W L
Ipswich Town W W L D D W

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

9 Mar 2019 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Johansen)
Ipswich Town 1 (Nolan)

Last win

23 Nov 2018 – League Championship
Ipswich Town 1 (Jackson)
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Rodriguez, Barnes)

Last win at the Hawthorns

22 Aug 2009 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Mulumbu, Koren)
Ipswich Town 0

Albion’s Record against Ipswich Town

  Overall   Home
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 66 21 15 30 94 111   33 13 8 12 59 42
FA Cup 3 0 1 2 2 7   1 0 1 0 1 1
League Cup 3 1 1 1 3 2   1 1 0 0 2 0
Other 1 0 0 1 1 2   0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 73 22 17 34 100 122   35 14 9 12 62 43

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