Ipswich Town vs Middlesbrough: Preview and Prediction

Ipswich Town will be eager to return to winning ways when they welcome Middlesbrough to Portman Road on Saturday.

We enter the final five matchdays of the 2023/24 EFL Championship season, with the latest round of fixtures getting underway with the Friday night game between Plymouth Argyle and Leicester City. One of the most eye-catching matches on Saturday will feature two former Manchester United coaches when Ipswich Town and Middlesbrough clash at Portman Road.

Ipswich Town might be the Cinderella Story of English football in the 2023/24 season. Hardly anyone would have foreseen them being in contention to secure promotion to the Premier League, let alone being in the title fight, in their first season back in the EFL Championship. However, Kieran McKenna continues to wield the magic wand, with the Tractor Boys level on points with the table-topping Leicester City.

As for Middlesbrough, they face a race against time in the race for the promotion playoffs. While all is not lost yet, the Riversiders are six points behind sixth-placed Norwich City. However, Michael Carrick and his charges have given themselves every chance of finishing in the top six after embarking on an eight-game unbeaten run since early March.

The reverse fixture ended in a 2-0 win for Ipswich Town, with Conor Chaplin and Omari Hutchinson breaking the back of the Middlesbrough defenders. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

Ipswich Town

Kieran McKenna does not have any new issues hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Middlesbrough on Saturday, the Ipswich Town manager will have a full-strength squad.

Vaclav Hladky will take his spot between the sticks, with Ipswich Town lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of him against Middlesbrough. The backline should feature Axel Tuanzebe, Luke Woolfenden, Cameron Burgess, and Leif Davis.

As for the midfield unit, there is no looking past Massimo Luongo and captain Sam Morsy in the double pivot. The duo will look to keep things tight in the middle of the park while initiating swift transitions.

Conor Chaplin and Omari Hutchinson were on target against Middlesbrough in the reverse fixture. The two players will look to do a repeat on Saturday when they join Nathan Broadhead and Ali Al-Hamadi in the final third.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hladky; Tuanzebe, Woolfenden, Burgess, Davis; Morsy, Luongo; Hutchinson, Chaplin, Broadhead; Al-Hamadi


Unlike his counterpart in the Ipswich Town dugout, Michael Carrick has several fitness issues to deal with ahead of the trip to Portman Road. The Middlesbrough manager will be bereft of the services of eight first-team players on Saturday.

The defensive unit has a few pressing concerns, with Patrick McNair (hamstring), Dael Fry (groin), Tom Smith (Achilles), and Darragh Lenihan (Achilles) on the sidelines. In addition, Riley McGree (foot), Hayden Hackney (leg), Marcus Forss (hamstring), and Josh Coburn (groin) are unavailable to take on Ipswich Town.

Middlesbrough will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation against Ipswich Town, with Seny Dieng taking his spot in the goal. The backline should feature Luke Ayling, Rav van den Berg, Matt Clarke, and Lukas Engel.

As for the midfield unit, Lewis O’Brien and captain Jonathan Howson will pair up in the double pivot in the middle of the park. Finn Azaz will reprise the no. 10 role, with Isaiah Jones and Sam Greenwood being the two wide attackers. Finally, Emmanuel Latte Lath will lead the line for Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Dieng; Ayling, van den Berg, Clarke, Engel; Howson, O’Brien; Jones, Azaz, Greenwood; Latte Lath

Key Stats

  • Ipswich Town have won just one of their last eight games against Middlesbrough (D2 L5), although that sole victory came at the Riverside earlier this season.
  • Middlesbrough are unbeaten across their last three away league games against Ipswich Town (W2 D1), scoring exactly twice on each visit to Portman Road.
  • Ipswich Town have scored at least twice in their last 19 home league matches on Saturdays, finding the back of the net 63 times in those games.
  • Middlesbrough beat Norwich City 2-1 earlier this season. 1975/76 was the only previous league campaign where they beat both the Canaries and Ipswich Town on the road.
  • Conor Chaplin has been involved in three goals in his last two starts in the Championship against Middlesbrough (2 goals, 1 assist).

Player to Watch

Ali Al-Hamadi

Embed from Getty Images

A mini-goal drought has appeared out of nowhere for Ipswich Town, with Kieran McKenna’s men failing to find the back of the net in their last two outings. Kieffer Moore has been among the culprits, with the 31-year-old striker failing to score five games. That brings Ali Al-Hamadi into the picture.

The 22-year-old has been a solid performer for Ipswich Town this season, amassing 21 goals and eight assists in 42 appearances across all competitions thus far. He will be the go-to man for Kieran McKenna to see his charges end their mini-goal drought this weekend.


Ipswich Town 1-1 Middlesbrough

Ipswich Town might have hit a snag at the wrong time after a heroic effort to close the gap to Leicester City to nothing. The game against Middlesbrough comes at the wrong time, with the Tractor Boys failing the trouble the scorers in their last two games.

In addition, the visitors are on an eight-match unbeaten run, which should extend on Saturday if they play to their potential. Expect Ipswich Town to end the recent mini drought but also concede once to end up with a point. The Hard Tackle predicts the two sides to share the spoils at Portman Road on Saturday.

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