Feeling anxious? You’re allowed to be, the thought of losing at Portman Road will do that to you. I have to admit, I’m more nervous than I usually am heading into derby day but, having written this article and covered all bases I’m confident Norwich City are still the Pride of Anglia-this is why.

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The general feeling heading into the derby this weekend, is that the significant gap that once existed between Norwich City and Ipswich Town has closed in recent seasons. Last season, both legs of the East Anglian derby were closely contested and Sunday will likely see another tight match between two teams experiencing slow starts to their respective campaigns.

Defensive frailties have cost City so far this season after performances that, generally, deserved more, nevertheless, City have only accumulated four points.

After so many good performances, Daniel Farke faces a selection headache ahead of the derby; Dennis Srbeny, Ben Godfrey and Emi Buendia all put in impressive performances.

In all likelihood, wholesale changes won’t be witnessed, perhaps Buendia will start ahead of Leitner, after a good performance against Cardiff.

As for Srbeny, he probably deserves to be involved against Ipswich but with Jordan Rhodes clearly being first choice and with the narrative of him returning to his old club, it would be a big call to omit Rhodes from the starting eleven.

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Returning to the club where he started his career will provide motivation for Rhodes. Since leaving Ipswich for Huddersfield in 2009, Rhodes has amassed a good goalscoring record against the Tractor Boys, scoring five goals in nine appearances against his former employers.

When asked about the striker, Ipswich boss, Paul Hurst commented ‘He [Rhodes] is a goal scorer, if he is in the starting line-up, we will have to be on our guard.’

After being rested against Cardiff, Norwich City danger man, Onel Hernandez is expected to feature against Ipswich. Hernandez has enjoyed a strong start to the season, scoring two goals and notching three assists and will certainly be a cause for concern for the Tractor Boys.

Tim Krul’s start to life at Carrow Road has been varied, despite several good saves, mistakes against both West Brom and Leeds have cost City valuable points. The Norwich faithful will be expecting a solid display between the sticks in what is sure to be a tightly contested derby match.

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Across the border, Ipswich find themselves propping up the table heading into the derby, having not yet won a game this season. Similarly, to Norwich last season, the summer saw wholesale changes in terms of personnel at Portman Road.

The decision to replace longstanding manager, Mick McCarthy, has resulted in new boss, Paul Hurst, remodelling Town’s squad. Of the players that took to the field in last season’s derbies, only; Bartosz Bialkowski, Luke Chambers, Jonas Knudsen, Cole Skuse, Jordan Spence, Flynn Downes and former canary, Tom Adeyemi remain at the club.

Regardless of who features for Town, it will be an unproven side in terms of experience in the East Anglian derby. With new manager, Paul Hurst commenting in his pre-match presser that he is ‘sure people like Luke Chambers [and] Cole Skuse will be making it [the importance of the derby] known to the rest of the group.’

Ahead of what will be a combative derby, Ipswich have accumulated the most red cards in the Championship.

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With both Tayo Edun and Aristote Nsiala picking up one a piece. The latter scored and then was sent off against Sheffield Wednesday last weekend but won’t play after an unsuccessful appeal.

Ipswich have failed to deal with balls into the penalty box, conceding from a set-piece in five out of six games so far this season. This may be an area where Daniel Farke will feel that Norwich may have the edge come Sunday, having already scored three goals from set-pieces after just seven games.

In terms of what we can expect from Ipswich, Gwion Edwards, a new arrival this summer from League One Peterborough, has looked promising in the opening matches.

Much of Ipswich’s attacking play originates on the right-hand side of the pitch with Edwards, which will potentially see Jamal Lewis play a more cautious game in terms of marauding forward, to counteract the threat of Edwards.

Town ‘keeper Bartosz Bialkowski has suffered a poor start to the season, making several uncharacteristic errors. Bialkowski has been one of Town’s few standout performers in recent derbies and his poor form will be a concern for Ipswich heading into Sunday.

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In the run up to the derby, Ipswich have confirmed the signings of Jordan Graham and Jon Walters, on loan until January from Premier League, Wolves and Burnley respectively. This will be Walters second spell at the club, following his 146 games and 32 goals between January 2007 and summer 2010.

The gap between the two teams has narrowed, there is no doubt about that.

In truth, both teams come into this instalment of the East Anglian derby in poor form, which always has the possibility to translate into a tight and scrappy affair. When coupled with the ten-match hoodoo and Ipswich sitting bottom of the league it’s all looking a bit ‘along come Norwich’.

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The first goal is crucial, especially when you consider the frailties of both defences, it’s likely both teams will concede, probably from a set piece in Ipswich’s case.

Leeds aside, the recent unease around the form of Norwich City can be attributed to collective mistakes rather than a lack of ability at this level.

City have scored their fair share of goals thus far and carry a greater goal scoring threat than their Suffolk counterparts which could give City the edge in what is sure to be the tightest East Anglian derby in recent history.

Joe Hinchliffe

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