MATCH PREVIEW: Odds stacked against them, but there are several reasons to believe that Ipswich Town can get something at league-leaders Leicester City today
- Credit: Archant
Leicester v Ipswich: Blues boss Mick McCarthy has vowed to go on the attack at runaway league-leaders Leicester City this afternoon as the Blues attempt to keep their play-off ambitions alive.
With the top five in the Championship beginning to pull away, Town are amidst a clutch of sides battling for sixth spot. They may be just five points behind the current occupiers of that position, Reading, but that gap could become eight today. And close rivals Wigan, Brighton, Blackburn and Leeds all have a game-in-hand to come.
McCarthy has admitted that this afternoon could be a ‘watershed’ moment in his side’s season. As a result, he has vowed to play offensively against a Foxes side who are eight points clear at the top having dropped just four points during an impressive 11-game unbeaten run.
The odds are undoubtedly stacked against Ipswich Town this afternoon.
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Leicester are eight points clear at the top, have claimed 29 points from a possible 33 and have a striker laced with Kryptonite in the form of David Nugent.
Blues fans won’t need reminding that the Liverpudlian’s goal-tally against Ipswich stands at 13 in 12 games. Or that Town are now without their own topscorer and talisman, David McGoldrick, after he suffered a season-ending knee injury last weekend.
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Delve a little deeper though and there are reasons to believe that Mick McCarthy’s men can come away from The King Power Stadium with something today and keep their top six ambitions alive.
Nigel Pearson’s side may be unbeaten in 11 league matches, but following a nine-game winning streak they have drawn their last two. They were 2-0 down at home to Watford last weekend and trailed 2-1 at Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night. On both occasions the Foxes salvaged 2-2 draws, but four goals conceded in two matches provides Town with encouragement.
Never underestimate the benefit of an extra few days rest and preparation time either. Town have had all week to get ready for today’s fixture, Leicester will have done some light training yesterday following their midweek exploits.
Town have experienced first hand recently what a negative impact this can have. Off the back of a long Tuesday night trip to Preston for an FA Cup replay they produced a limp display in a 1-0 loss at a far fresher Millwall.
And that, remember, is Town’s only defeat in their last 11 away league outings.
Free-flowing football it is not, but you can never write off this Ipswich team – whoever they are playing.
Just six defeats have been suffered in the league this season. Four of them have been by a single-goal margin, the other two by two-goals (and the 2-0 loss at Wigan was not representative of the match).
Leicester may have scored in all but three of their matches this season, but they are one of only six teams in the division to have scored more than Ipswich. Indeed, only six teams have conceded fewer then the Blues.
– Left-back Paul Konchesky starts a three-match ban after his sending off in Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest. He’s likely to be replaced by Jeffrey Schlupp.
– Defender Sean St Ledger (groin) and young striker Tom Hopper (leg) are the only injuries.
– McCarthy has a selection dilemma when it comes to the goalkeeper’s position. Dean Gerken is available again having missed last weekend’s 0-0 draw with Blackpool due to a stiff neck. Scott Loach produced a man-of-the-match display in his absence.
– Luke Hyam will miss this match and the visit of Birmingham with the tight hamstring which ended his comeback match early on last weekend.
– Topscorer David McGoldrick is set to miss the rest of the campaign with the knee injury he sustained late on against Blackpool.
It looks like Frank Nouble will replace him as Daryl Murphy’s strike partner today, McCarthy having intimated he will stick with two up top, revealing that Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is not ready to start a match following his latest comeback from injury and that the out-of-favour Paul Taylor hasn’t been as good as his peers.
Mick McCarthy, Ipswich Town manager
ON DAVID MCGOLDRICK BEING RULED OUT FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON: “It is a huge blow for me, for the team, for the club and for him because he’s had such a great season. It’s opportunity knocks for somebody else to step up and be the hero.”
ON LEICESTER: “They played Wednesday night. I think we’ve got to make the most of that and be an attacking force and go and press them and try to get something out of it. They’re not an easy team to stop. They’re the best team in the league by a good margin.
ON PLAY–OFF HOPES: “Sixth spot is still there, but this weekend could be a watershed. If we don’t get anything and Reading win suddenly they are eight points in front of us then it would be a hell of a test for us. We’ll keep chasing it.”
David Nugent’s goals may have got the headlines, but it is winger Lloyd Dyer who has proved to be Ipswich’s chief tormentor in recent times.
The 31-year-old left-winger is still as quick as he’s ever been and it was his direct-running which the Blues could not handle during the 6-0 defeat at The King Power Stadium last year and this season’s 2-1 loss at Portman Road.
Luke Chambers has generally done a solid job as Town’s makeshift right-back this season, but there have been times he has looked vulnerable to out-and-out wing play.
The Blues skipper has improved as a full-back though and produced a superb performance in last weekend’s goalless home draw with Blackpool.
Leicester’s midfield is the best in the league. Stopping the service will be key if Town are to avoid defeat.
IPSWICH TOWN 1 LEICESTER CITY 2
David Nugent once again proved to be Ipswich Town’s nemesis, scoring twice to secure Leicester City a 2-1 come-from-behind win at Portman Road last November.
The 28-year-old striker’s well-taken second-half brace took his goal tally against the Blues to 13 in 12 games, Town having taken the lead in the second minute via David McGoldrick’s strike.
Ipswich were thumped 6-0 on their last visit to The King Power Stadium in what was Mick McCarthy’s fourth game in charge.
LEICESTER CITY 1 IPSWICH TOWN 1
A bold prediction given Leicester City’s form, but I’ve got a sneaking feeling that Mick McCarthy’s men can get something today.
The Foxes have conceded four goals in their last two games and have had just two days to recover from Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest. Eight points clear at the top, they may subconsciously take their foot off the gas a little.
Town, by contrast, know they need to keep pace with their sixth-spot rivals. And they have lost just one of their last 11 away from home.