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Ah. The Championship. Welcome back to the madhouse that it truly is.
With the races for Premier League spots growing tighter and tighter as the years have gone by, this time we are faced with potentially the highest quality we have seen at the level in a long time.
With the three relegated clubs all holding onto the majority of their talent, and even adding further to it, as well as a league full of clubs that produced an incredibly tight playoff race last season (albeit with less of a title and automatic promotion race), we look towards a fixture featuring a team that almost made it back to the top flight via the playoffs last campaign. Sunderland look set to challenge up there again, hosting a side freshly returning to the second tier that many consider dark horses to irritate the upper reaches of the league.
Sunderland finally clawed their way out of League One the season before last, with their competitors this weekend doing so last season. Where Sunderland pushed on into the playoffs with a stab at a Premier League homecoming at the first attempt, Ipswich will look to repeat their feats with Kieran McKenna’s well-oiled footballing machine. It is a mouth-watering head-to-head that has thrown up a lot of options for a Sunderland vs Ipswich bet builder.
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Sunderland vs Ipswich predicted lineups
Sunderland Signings set to slot in
Sunderland have been busy boys when it’s come to recruiting young talent so far in the transfer window. With the likes of Jobe Bellingham and Luis Semedo signing on up north, alongside a more experienced head in Bradley Dack, building for the future and reinforcing the present has very much been the order of the day thus far for the Black Cats.
Semedo is the most likely of the young lads to make his debut on Sunday, with defender Nectarios Triantis and Bellingham in line to take a place on the bench, with Manchester United loanee Nathan Bishop likely to sit with him.
The retentions of Jack Clarke and Ross Stewart have been as good as any signing for Tony Mowbray’s men, but only one will likely start as Stewart remains out with an achilles injury.
Keeper swaps and fresh faces for Ipswich
Looking towards Kieran McKenna’s men, a combination of the two teams that played a 60-minute game each in the Innsbruck Cup will likely be deployed on their travels to the Stadium of Light. There are also a few debuts to consider, and irrespective of whether McKenna opts for a back three or a four, you can expect to see first showings for Chelsea loanee Omari Hutchinson and Peterborough alumni Jack Taylor.
Resident first-choice for the goalkeeping regiment at Ipswich, Christian Walton, is set to miss out on the opening day with a foot injury, leaving the spot open for Vaclav Hladky to deputise in his place.
Sunderland vs Ipswich team stats
Black Cats will look to grab early initiative
Pre-season is a dangerous thing. It’s a time to experiment, integrate the new boys, try out new ideas and freshen the men up for the challenge ahead. On top of that, it’s a time to look at the club’s friendly campaigns and see where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
With Sunderland, it’s clear to see that they are an impressive outfit coming forward, but that doesn’t mean that they are the total package at the back. They didn’t keep a single clean sheet during their pre-season, and even conceded five against non-league Hartlepool. While their first-choice cocktail of talent might not have consistently been on display, the patterns of play are still clear to see. And it makes sense considering Sunderland had 61% of their games see both teams score.
Town pre-season quality was mixed and mental
Ipswich Town managed to beat none other than RB Leipzig in pre-season. They also lost to Cambridge and Stevenage. Swings and roundabouts. However, like their hosts on Sunday, their firepower up top is not to be disrespected. They did, after all, score more goals than anybody in League One last season with 101.
Unlike the hosts, however, last season’s statistics suggest that they are a little tighter at the back, seeing both teams score in just 46% of their games last campaign. Of course, though, a new league brings new challenges and new puzzles to solve, and if their record of just one clean sheet in pre-season (albeit being against Leipzig of all teams) is anything to go by, you can expect that figure to rise a little higher this year.
Sunderland vs Ipswich players to watch
Bellingham benched but bound to bang
We may not be expecting a start for the younger brother of Real Madrid’s newest star, but keep an eye out for what he might be able to offer as a substitute. The 17-year-old could likely play a big part for Sunderland this season, and his first glimpses against Ipswich, whenever it is that he comes on, should set this in motion comfortably. In his five starts and 22 total appearances for Birmingham last season, he gave some really encouraging glimpses into the potential that seems synonymous with the Bellingham family name, and many eyes will be watching his arrival up north to see if he can become the next instalment in his family’s portfolio of footballing stars.
Semedo should shine for Sunderland
The 19-year-old Luis Semedo looks set to be a tidy arrival for Sunderland this season. The teenage prospect, brought in for free from Benfica, looks set to deputise for the injured Ross Stewart, and if he matches the levels of performance shown by him in pre-season, he should be just fine in doing so. A goal in a win against New Mexico and another in a draw against Mallorca did plenty to prove his goalscoring chops that reside along with his pace and power. His arrival in the Championship may show that Sunderland have secured the signing of a particularly underrated star.
Hutchinson has heaps of hope
Omari Hutchinson’s arrival at Chelsea from Arsenal a few years back was regarded as a highly coveted capture. The young midfielder had been carving himself out as a truly remarkable prospect in the Gunners’ academy, and that potential is yet to show properly when wearing blue. The blue contingency of Suffolk will be hopeful that it starts to come through in their shade this season, and McKenna’s high-octane footballing bonanza should be the ideal place for him to strut his stuff. Silky smooth on the ball with a deep box of tricks to display, his participation in the Ipswich machine could prove to be a vital one this season, not only on Sunday.
Sunderland vs Ipswich Bet Builder Tips and Picks of the Pack
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