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Dave Gooderham: Why I owe Kayden Jackson an apology

Kayden Jackson, pictured with fans at Fleetwood, is Town's leading scorer this season - and Dave Gooderham owes him an apology! Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

Kayden Jackson, pictured with fans at Fleetwood, is Town's leading scorer this season - and Dave Gooderham owes him an apology! Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

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I think it is about time we started comparing ourselves to Liverpool, writes Dave Gooderham.

Jurgen Klopp's all-conquering Liverpool are the only other unbeaten league side in England, along with Town. Picture: PA SPORTJurgen Klopp's all-conquering Liverpool are the only other unbeaten league side in England, along with Town. Picture: PA SPORT

Maybe we could start a best XI between the two sides, like the ones Sky Sports pundits do in the build-up to a Super Sunday clash. Of course, I jest a little.

Trent Alexander Arnold would have no chance against Kane Vincent Young, Jordan Henderson couldn't lace Flynn Downes' boots and Mohammed Salah against Kayden Jackson? No contest!

These are giddy times for Ipswich Town fans as we join the champions of Europe at the top table marked 'unbeaten'. The standard might be a touch different but only two remain - a fact that should be celebrated by all Town fans, regardless of the 44 positions between Jurgen Klopp and Paul Lambert.

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There are many reasons for Ipswich's flying start. A rock-solid defence, led by a commanding presence in nets, an enviable squad depth and an indifferent standard of opposition to name a few.

The one obvious gap not mentioned in the above is the ability to put the ball in the net. Back to Merseyside and Salah's not bad at that, ably supported by Firmino and Mane.

But Ipswich currently have the third best goalscoring record in League One and have recorded back-to-back four goal hauls at home. Not bad at all. What's particularly pleasing is the fact that the goals are being shared around, with even the 'second string' comfortably weighing in with four against Gillingham in Tuesday night's EFL Cup canter.

Kayden Jackson on the ball during Ipswich Town's 1-0 win at Fleetwood Picture: ROSS HALLSKayden Jackson on the ball during Ipswich Town's 1-0 win at Fleetwood Picture: ROSS HALLS

Of course, the burden of goalscoring largely falls on a number nine or, preferably for Town fans, a nine and 10. In recent seasons, Ipswich have flirted with having a big goalscorer.

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Daryl Murphy had the season of his life in 2014/15 when everything he hit made the net bulge and Martyn Waghorn was another notable contender three years later.

Last season, Ipswich redefined the term powderpuff with just 36 goals netted all season and Freddie Sears and Gwion Edwards top scoring with six goals apiece. Pretty pathetic all round, I think we would all agree.

We need a goalscorer, we proclaimed, as we entered the unchartered waters of League One. Enter James Norwood. It may have been in the lower leagues but a proven and hungry goal-getter, a Lord nonetheless, was arriving at our gates.

A pre-season hat-trick and a quick start to the league campaign just whetted the appetite even more. Norwood was going to get another 30-plus goals this year, we all cried.

Since then, the script has not completely gone to plan. Norwood is without a goal in five and the fact he has missed a number of clear-cut chances can't be ignored, nor can a troublesome groin injury that appears to be being rectified over the international break.

The perhaps obvious consequence of all this is that some, and I stress some, on social media - surprise, surprise - have begun questioning Norwood's worth in the team.

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My opinion? I would suggest asking Kayden Jackson about what his strike partner brings to Ipswich. Equally, what Norwood has done to help bring on Jackson's game.

Make no mistake about it, questions were still being raised on day one of the season about Jackson's ability to lead the frontline in an Ipswich shirt. He struggled to adapt to Championship life last season - he was not alone - but many would have preferred Ellis Harrison to remain and Jackson to exit. I certainly had my doubts.

So I should be the first to apologise to Kayden whose goals have helped propel Ipswich to such dizzy unbeaten heights. With six goals in 12 games, including two match-winners, it would be easy to say that Jackson is the one spearheading the frontline rather than Norwood. But to do so would also be lazy.

Norwood has a bit of everything about his game. The goals will always come, I have no doubt about that, but he is a physical pest who must be a nightmare to play against. What he also does so well is take some of the pressure off Jackson by outmuscling and possibly intimidating centre backs.

It is no surprise that this leaves spaces for the number nine to exploit. With that comes goals and with goals comes confidence. Jackson's self-belief is certainly brimming right now.

James Norwood hasn't scored for a while - but Dave argues that doesn't mean he's not playing well. Picture: ROSS HALLSJames Norwood hasn't scored for a while - but Dave argues that doesn't mean he's not playing well. Picture: ROSS HALLS

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In an era of fluid 4-3-3's or two defensive midfielders, playing two up top is almost a nod to a bygone era. Especially when the two strikers compliment each other so well.

And we are not just talking about Norwood and Jackson. Will Keane looked sharp and showed a clinical finish on Tuesday night and we have a certain Freddie Sears waiting in the wings, itching to play his part in a promotion push.

Whether grabbing crucial winners or grappling with defenders, our strikers are playing their part just as much as everyone else is, on and off the pitch.

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