Big match preview: Leeds United v Ipswich Town - everything you need to know
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High-flying Ipswich Town take on Championship table-toppers Leeds United at Elland Road today. STUART WATSON brings you quotes, team news, prediction and more.
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy says Leeds United counterpart Thomas Christiansen sounds very much like his cup of tea ahead of this afternoon’s top-six clash at Elland Road.
The Yorkshire club turned to the relatively unknown Dane this summer following Garry Monk’s shock resignation. A 44-year-old former striker who came through the Barcelona youth system and played 11 times for Spain (his mother was born there), his managerial career started in the United Arab Emirates with Al Jazira Club, continued in Cyprus with AEK Larnaca before last season he guided Greek club APOEL to the last 16 of the Europa League.
Christiansen signed 14 first team players this summer made up of 10 different nationalities recruited from leagues in Portugal, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Holland and England.
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The new-look outfit have gelled quickly, claiming 17 points to top the table, also progressing to the last 16 of the Carabao Cup with a penalty shoot-out win at Burnley on Tuesday night.
“I would imagine there was a bit of doom and gloom there after they lost Garry Monk and Chris Wood,” said McCarthy. “It just shows you, change is not always bad for clubs.
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“I don’t know much about Thomas Christiansen, but I’m told he spent a lot of time working on their shape. As usual with players there were one or two not totally happy with it and he just said ‘listen, this is how we’re doing it and if you don’t like it see ya’. I like that. He’s got my respect already.”
Leeds suffered their first defeat of the campaign last weekend, 1-0 at Millwall, conceding their first league goal in 636 minutes. The damage could have been greater. And there’s also a sense that they, like Ipswich, have had a kind set of opening fixtures (wins have come against Bolton, Sunderland, Nottingham Forest, Burton and Birmingham).
“We’re all beatable and I don’t think there is that much between any of us on any given day,” said McCarthy. “I would imagine Leeds fans are all enjoying it, but also wondering if it’s going to continue. It’s not going to be an easy game for either of us.”
He added: “Everybody knows I supported them as a kid. They are a fantastic Yorkshire club and I’d like them to do well. Not at my expense though and I’m sure everybody understands that.”
Team name: Leeds United
Manager: Thomas Christiansen (June ‘17: P11 W7 D3 L1)
Position last season: 7th in Championship
Ground: Elland Road
Key summer signings: Wiedwald (Werder Bremen), Anita (Newcastle), Alioski (FC Lugano), Saiz (SD Huesca), Lassoga (Hamburg)
Top-scorers: Saiz (6), Roofe (5), Phillips (3)
Most starts: Ayling (11)
Last game: Tues: 2-2 at Burnley (won on pens in the Carabao Cup) Form: DLWWWWWDDWW
Ipswich Town team news
• Jonas Knudsen is available again after missing last Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Bolton with a tight hamstring. Myles Kenlock filled in impressively at left-back.
• Flynn Downes (thigh) and Danny Rowe (knock) are fresh injuries and unavailable.
• Adam Webster played 60 minutes for the Under-23s on Tuesday as they won 5-2 at Nottingham Forest. The centre-back is not deemed ready for first team action yet though. • Tommy Smith (hamstring) and Luke Hyam (knee) have both had small set-backs, while Emyr Huws (Achilles) and Teddy Bishop (groin) are pencilled in for returns after the next international break at the end of this month.
Leeds United team news
• Pierre-Michel Lasogga may have to fly back to his native Germany if his partner goes into labour. • Pontus Jansson, Matthew Pennington and Liam Cooper are all expected to recover from injuries to boost Thomas Christiansen’s defensive options. Forward Caleb Ekuban is now the only absentee.
• Christiansen made nine changes to the team which lost 1-0 at Millwall last weekend and a much-changed side drew 2-2 at Burnley in midweek before winning a penalty shootout to progress to the last 16 of the Carabao Cup.
6 – Clean sheets for Leeds already this season
3 – Championship sides yet to draw - Town, Sheff Utd, Forest
Ipswich Town’s Championship record at Elland Road reads: P10 W2 D4 L4
Key opposition man
Ezgjan Alioski The Macedonian winger has proved a big hit with his speed and direct running since arriving from Swiss club FC Lugano this summer. Has combined well with in-form right-back Luke Ayling.
Leeds (4/6), Draw (3/1), Ipswich (5/1)
Geoff Eltringham (County Durham) Games: 9, Yellows: 30, Reds: 0
Ipswich Town 1 Leeds United 1
Date: February 18, 2017
Freddie Sears put Town ahead with an early goal (9), before Stuart Dallas levelled against the run of play just before half-time (42). David McGoldrick hit the bar as Town pressed for a winner. The Blues lost the reverse fixture 1-0 at Elland Road courtesy of a Chris Wood header almost a year ago to the day.
Leeds United 1 Ipswich Town 1
Leeds are up there for a reason, but this Town team has spirit and I fancy them to grind out a draw.