MATCH PREVIEW: ‘Vital moment in the season’ and ‘good time to face Leeds’ are not phrases that have crossed Mick McCarthy’s mind
- Credit: Lucy taylor
Leeds v Ipswich: Ipswich Town could break back into the Championship play-off places tonight with victory at Leeds United.
The Blues will be full of confidence following their impressive 2-0 home win over Reading at the weekend, a result which ended a three-match losing streak and lifted them back within two points of the top six.
Leeds, by contrast, have lost their last five matches in all competitions and are winless in seven. The Yorkshire side are in the middle of yet more takeover talks at present, have dropped to 12th in the table and have been further disrupted by a £4m bid from West Ham for 18-goal striker Ross McCormack.
TALK OF THE TOWN
Try telling Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy that this is a crucial stage in his side’s season and a good time to play Leeds.
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The Blues could move back in the top six tonight ahead of games against bottom half trio Bolton, Barnsley and Blackpool.
Leeds – on paper at least – are there for the taking, having lost their last five matches.
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“I don’t go for all that,” said McCarthy. “Do you want me to be clichéd up? It’s a chance to get another three points – nothing more.
“I don’t see any game as being any more significant than any other. They are all worth three points.
“How significant was the win against Reading at the weekend? “Well, it was significant because we had just lost three on the bounce.
“I wasn’t aware it was the first time that we’d beaten someone who is pushing for promotion. I don’t care who we win against to be honest. If you get enough wins, no matter who they are against, you get promoted.”
Leeds’ last win was on December 14 (3-0 victory at Doncaster). Since then there have been draws against Barnsley and Blackpool (0-0 at home and 1-1 away respectively), followed by defeats to Nottingham Forest (2-1 away), Blackburn (2-1 at home), League One Rochdale in the FA Cup (2-0 away), Sheffield Wednesday (6-0 away) and Leicester (1-0 at home).
The Yorkshire side started the season superbly (winning 2-1 at Portman Road back in August), but appear to have been disrupted by another round of takeover talks and West Ham’s public bid for star striker Ross McCormack.
“I thought Brian (McDermott) started off brilliantly,” said McCarthy.
“We murdered them for about 30 minutes here and lost 2-1. I thought they looked a real solid team.
“It just seems to have turned around for them. There’s another takeover going on, I don’t know if that’s had an effect on it?
“Brian’s a good manager and a mate of mine. He’s on a bad run, but prior to the weekend I was answering questions about us losing three on the bounce.”
Ipswich played with a huge amount of energy and intensity in their victory over Reading on Saturday, while Leeds had a blank weekend.
Is that a concern to McCarthy, who has one of the smallest squads in the Championship?
“Of course,” he said. “There’s some stat that goes round that if you’re in Europe on a Thursday night and then play a team that hasn’t played in midweek on the Sunday, the fresher team has got something like a 40% greater chance of winning. It must apply in the league as well.
“They’ve got that slight pressure as well though because the last two games they’ve played they’ve lost 6-0 and 1-0 at home to Leicester. They’ve lost two on the bounce, they’re in a bit of a transition with another takeover going on, so despite us playing Saturday, we have to make use of all that.
“Will fresher legs be of benefit to them? I’ll tell you on Tuesday night at about half past 10. If we win I’ll be saying ‘it’s great because we played Saturday and were sharper’, but if we get slapped I’ll be saying ‘they didn’t play on Saturday and were fresher than us’. I’ll give you my excuse or reason on Tuesday night!”
Leeds certainly played well against table-toppers Leicester in their last outing, only losing courtesy of David Nugent’s late goal.
“It’s funny that isn’t it?” said McCarthy. “I remember us going to Wigan, absolutely slapping them and losing 2-0. Nobody said to me though ‘do you know what, you played really well in that game and should have won so the opposition this weekend must be really worried’. It’s strange that isn’t it?
“They lost, that’s what they did, they were beaten. It doesn’t matter how it happens, it’s about how you feel afterwards and how you recover and come back.”
- McDermott is likely to stick with the same line-up which pushed Leicester all the way 10 days ago.
- Stephen Hunt’s brother, Noel, will be in the squad.
- New loan signing Frazer Richardson will be in the squad to face his former club. The 31-year-old – out of contract in the summer – has arrived from Middlesbrough until the end of the season.
- Veteran midfielder Carlos Edwards is fit and available after coming off at half-time with a tight groin in the weekend’s win against Reading.
- Midfielder Luke Hyam (cut leg) and striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (hamstring) remain sidelined.
LEEDS: Kenny; Lees, Pearce, Warnock, Byram; Stewart, Austin, Brown, Kebe; Varney, McCormack.
IPSWICH: Gerken; Chambers, Berra, Smith, Cresswell; Anderson, Skuse, Tunnicliffe, Hunt; Murphy, McGoldrick.
There is no doubting who Leeds’ danger man is. Ross McCormack leads the Championship scoring charts with 17 goals in 26 appearances.
The Scot – who scored one and made another in Leeds’ 2-1 win at Portman Road back in August – was subject of a rejected £4m bid from struggling Premier League side West ham last week, with the Hammers reportedly set to up their offer before Friday’s transfer deadline day.
It will be a fellow Scot, Blues centre-back Christophe Berra, who is charged with keeping McCormack quiet tonight.
The 28-year-old produced a fine display in Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Reading, keeping Pavel Pogrebnyak quiet. He and defensive partner Tommy Smith will need to be on top form again.
Ipswich Town 1 Leeds United 2
Ross McCormack made one goal and scored another as Leeds came from behind to beat Ipswich Town at Portman Road back in August.
The Blues dominated the first 20 minutes and deservedly led though David McGoldrick’s fine strike, but Luke Varney’s cool finish made it 1-1 after McCormack’s 25-yard shot rebounded into his path after 27 minutes.
The latter then hit a 49th minute winner when he cut inside and beat Scott Loach with a low 20-yard effort.
Leeds 0 Ipswich 1
Beware the wounded animal and all that, but the form guide certainly suggests that Ipswich Town are more than capable of winning at Elland Road tonight.
Leeds have scored just three goals and conceded 14 during a seven-game winless run. If the Yorkshire side don’t hit the ground running tonight then the natives could get restless.
Ipswich, by contrast, will be full of confidence following their scintillating second half against Reading at the weekend.
Follow @Stuart_Watson on Twitter for live match updates from Elland Road.