Ipswich v West Brom Friday November 23, 19:45 Live on Sky Sports
Lambert bullish about Ipswich's prospects
Ipswich boss Paul Lambert believes his squad have already shown the character needed to lift themselves out of the Championship relegation zone. The rock-bottom Tractor Boys are five points away from safety having accrued just 11 points and a solitary success in 17 league outings in 2018/19.
Since arriving in October, Lambert has overseen two draws, naming the same starting XI and substitutes bench in both encounters. The Scot insists the club need new recruits in January but is bullishly confident about their ability to pave a rescue mission to keep their second-tier status intact over the coming weeks.
Teddy Bishop remains unavailable as he continues his rehabilitation but Myles Kenlock could come into contention after returning to the fold during the international break. Kayden Jackson, Grant Ward and Toto Nsiala will all be hoping for recalls having appeared in behind-closed-doors friendly last week.
West Brom answer critics in style
West Brom signed off for the international break in style, scoring four second-half goals to thump high-flying Leeds 4-1 at The Hawthorns. The Baggies enjoyed the better of the opening 45 minutes and soon cut loose after the interval with goals from Hal Robson-Kanu, Matt Phillips, Harvey Barnes and Dwight Gayle.
Darren Moore's men arrived at the contest without a win in four and despite enjoying just 28% of the ball, restricted Leeds to only three efforts on-target. The Black Country boys were clinical in the final-third and racked up four or more goals for the fifth time since suffering relegation from the Premier League.
West Brom expect to have long-serving midfielder Chris Brunt available again following a hamstring injury on Friday night, whilst Barnes should also be fit despite withdrawing from the England U21 set-up. However, Kyle Bartley remains a major doubt with a knee problem.
Baggies fair odds-on favourites
Ipswich4.40 have won just once in their last nine league meetings with West Brom (W1-D2-L6) and come into this showdown winless since April at Portman Road in Championship football (W0-D7-L3). Even so, the Tractor Boys have shown signs of life since Lambert arriving in the Town hot-seat.
In games against fellow strugglers Reading and Preston, Ipswich generated 2.22 Expected Goals, a solid improvement upon their season-long average of just 0.67. The switch to a more offensively-minded 4-3-3 system under Lambert's watch has certainly given the group an edge in the final-third.
There's no doubting the ability in the West Brom 1.94 squad and the Baggies are understandable pre-match favourites. Moore's men boast the division's third-best xG from open play ratio (61%), although their return of just two wins on their travels (W2-D3-L3) is off-putting enough to leave the odds-on quotes alone.
Back both sides to oblige
West Brom are the Championship's leading goalscorers - plundering 37 across their opening 17 games, the most by any side at this level at this stage since Southampton (40) in 2011/12. Interestingly, 28 (76%) of those goals have arrived after half-time but only nine were notched in games as guests.
What has been consistent throughout the campaign is both Ipswich and West Brom's lack of clean sheets. The pair have combined to keep only two (6%) shutouts in a collective 34 Championship matches, as the pair have each seen 5/8 (62%) of their respective home/away games feature both sides scoring.
I'm therefore happy to support Both Teams To Score1.85 knowing the hosts are looking more menacing in the attacking areas under Lambert's tutorship, whilst West Brom are giving up 0.74 xG from open play per-game since returning to the second-tier.
Back Both Teams To Score @ 1.85 in Ipswich v West Brom