Ipswich Town have gone from draw specialists to all-or-nothing

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy is trying to work out how his side can tighten up at the back while

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy is trying to work out how his side can tighten up at the back while remaining a goal threat. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town start a tough-looking run of games with a Championship clash at Sheffield United tomorrow. STUART WATSON previews the match.

All or nothing

This is a clash between two sides yet to draw a game this season. Ipswich Town have won six and lost four of their 10 league games to sit eighth in the Championship table, while the Blades have won seven and lost four to climb to third.

It’s been all-or-nothing for Town – a side scoring plenty (20 in 10) and conceding regularly too (16). That’s a remarkable change given they were the league’s draw specialists (16) during a drab 2016/17 campaign.

Boss Mick McCarthy said: “Of course we want more consistency. I’d still take winning one and losing one as supposed to last year when we had 16 draws. I’d prefer that. We’ve got that ability to win games now. We’re going to score goals against teams.”

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Everything that Chris Wilder touches has turned to gold in recent years. He won the League Two title with 99 points at Northampton in 2016/17, then claimed the League One title with 100 points at Sheffield United last year.

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The Blades, back in the second-tier after a six-year absence, have carried that momentum into this campaign.

They’ve lost just two league games at fortress Bramall Lane this calender year – 2-0 to Fleetwood back in January and 1-0 to Norwich last month.

Wilder’s formation of choice is wing-backs. They followed up a morale-boosting 4-2 win at bitter rivals Sheffield Wednesday with an impressive 2-0 home win over Wolves, but ended last month with a 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest.

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Bad omens?

Here’s Town’s record in the month of October over the previous five years – P23 W1 D12 L10.

Their record post-international break under McCarthy is equally grim reading – P17 W3 D8 L6.

Make of that what you will.

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Acid test

Saturday’s tough trip is followed by the East Anglian derby at Portman Road and then quickfire away games against Burton (21st) and Cardiff (1st).

Town have beaten those struggling at the bottom, but come up short against the league’s leading sides thus far.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that the Blues’ best display, arguably, came in that 3-2 defeat at high-flying Leeds though. The question is how often those sort of performance levels can be produced.

With defensive options boosted and plenty of firepower there is no reason they can’t prove a match for anybody.

The next three weeks will certainly be a major acid test.

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Team news

David McGoldrick joined the Republic of Ireland squad with a tight hamstring but has returned fit. That’s a huge relief given his talismanic form of late.

Adam Webster, Tommy Smith and Flynn Downes are all back in contention, Teddy Bishop is nearing a return, but Emyr Huws and Tom Adeyemi remain out.

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