We take a look at some of the key questions ahead of the East Anglian derby on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Football…
Who is in better shape for the run-in?
On the face of it, there’s very little two separate these two sides, with both level on points heading into the weekend. But scratch below the surface and there are very contrasting feelings between the rivals.
Norwich’s season has been something of a rollercoaster – dipping between the relegation places, mid-table and the play-offs at various stages – but a 2-0 win against Birmingham on Boxing Day marked an upturn in fortunes. Fast forward to this weekend and the Canaries are in the midst of a run where they have won five and lost just one of the previous eight games.
With Premier League parachute payments coming to an end at the conclusion of the campaign, Daniel Farke and the club’s hierarchy recruited well on a shoestring budget in January, despite losing Alex Pritchard to Huddersfield and all of a sudden, the gradual emergence from the lower half of the table was in full flow.
The same cannot be said for their rivals, though. With four wins from four to start the season, fans began to envisage an unprecedented return to the Premier League for the first time since 2002. But the promise was quick to evaporate during a poor autumn run. Results improved and then dipped again, and a play-off finish now seems a tough ask.
Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby and Norwich Can Ipswich rediscover their scoring form?
In spite of their solid mid-table position, Mick McCarthy’s men are hardly firing on all cylinders, having scored just five times in six league games since the turn of the year. Perhaps more troubling, however, is the lack of personnel scoring those goals; aside from Joe Garner’s five from 10 since mid-December, only Callum Connolly and Man City loanee Bersant Celina have also netted in that period.
The Tractor Boys have managed to record four and five-goal hauls on several occasions, but their gradual slide down the standings seems to have come in conjunction with a lack of potency in front of goal. Martyn Waghorn’s form has also proved problematic. He was vital earlier in the season, but now has not scored in 12 games.
Historically speaking, high-scoring thrillers have been few and far between in the Old Farm derby – particularly in the last four years – but with plenty at stake, the visitors may well be getting some extra shooting training in ahead of kick-off.
Norwich vs Ipswich
February 18, 2018, 11:30am
Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass Tettey vital to Norwich?
Largely on the periphery during the Canaries’ most recent Premier League spell in 2015/16, midfielder Alex Tettey’s stock has been rising in the squad this season. And when he crumpled under a challenge from Derby skipper Richard Keogh last weekend, plenty of hearts were in mouths.
The intake of breath was particularly sharp during that moment in the 1-1 draw, given the fact that midfielder partner Tom Trybull was ruled out for 10 weeks after rupturing ankle and knee ligaments against Middlesbrough the previous week.
Former Norway international Tettey, 31, has the 200 appearances milestone in his sights after joining Norwich in 2012 and is reportedly close to being offered fresh terms at Carrow Road, thanks to his increased prominence at the heart of Daniel Farke’s midfield.
Augsburg loanee Moritz Leitner filled in for his countryman last weekend despite his leaner stature, meaning the presence of Tettey is of increased importance to the Canaries’ play-off push.
Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship between Ipswich and Burton Is this McCarthy’s last derby?
With the last 18 months or so in mind, McCarthy’s spell in charge of Ipswich has been tumultuous – not least after the Irishman guided the club to their worst league finish in 58 years last season.
He managed to overturn the end-of-season negativity in the summer and began with a clean slate, with many fans of the Suffolk club singing his praises after the four consecutive wins the Tractor Boys started the season with. But since the downturn that followed, perception of the 59-year-old has turned once more.
Rumours of a return to Barnsley have been circling in recent weeks, but McCarthy insists he’s focused on Ipswich. “I’m happy here,” he told the club’s website. “I love the job and I’ll carry on doing it professionally as long as I’m the manager here.
“I’m planning for next season because that’s my job. I’ve talked to [club owner Marcus Evans] and I’ve been on the phone about players that may be available.
“Is my mindset that I’ll be here next season? I have to be asked first. That is the basis for any negotiations. I’ve had a chat with Marcus and we are happy enough with the way things are going at the moment – but we both want to be in the top six and that is still achievable.”
A first win at Carrow Road since February 2006 could reignite play-off hopes for Ipswich, while a defeat would surely mark the end of their promotion hopes and increase the likelihood of McCarthy’s departure.
Don’t miss the Sky Bet Championship clash between Norwich and Ipswich on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Football and Main Event from 11.30am