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Leeds United at Ipswich Town preview: Mick McCarthy is no Garry Monk

The stoic Yorkshireman hasn’t been able to push the Tractor Boys up from the middle of the table this season. Will Monk be able to top Mick at Portman Road?

Ipswich Town v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

As the league placings of Leeds, Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday show, the Yorkshire influence on the Championship play off positions is as heavy as a tractor stuck in February mud. They are positions that stoic Yorkshireman Mick McCarthy must be looking on at in envy. His team of Tractor boys currently only influence mid table, deeply furrowed at 13th place.

McCarthy builds teams in his own image, resolute, workmanlike, dogged and unattractive. This has not been enough for some Town supporters who were calling for McCarthy’s sacking as recently as December. They finished 2015/16 in 7th place, and Tractor Boys fans fully expected their team to plough on into this season.

Ipswich Town v Fulham - Sky Bet Championship
Not enough for McCarthy’s Ipswich to be a threat in 2017.
Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

But with a total gross outlay of only £1.4 million in today’s spend-spend-spend football market, how could they? The bulk of that was splashed out on, you guessed it, a defender.

The Championship is an unforgiving world and you reap what you sow. Are you listening Massimo Cellino?

Home is where the form is

Having said that McCarthy’s men have done well at Portman Road and we can expect a battle on Saturday afternoon. They have only lost 4 games at home all season and their stats are close to Leeds United’s at Elland Road. Their shots per game is 11 compared to the Whites 11.9 and, surprisingly, they have less bookings with 57 yellows compared to Leeds who have received 61 yellows and 2 reds. United’s average goals per game is 1.4 against Town’s low 1 goal per game average.

What we need to do to win

All things considered, Ipswich will be hard to break down. I would hope Monk decides against the counter attack (for the sake of our 2100 traveling support) and starts a side with a high tempo pressing game in mind. I’d like to see Barrow and Sacko exploit the wings providing ammunition for Wood and Roofe. Bridcutt should return after his one game ban to provide steel in the centre and with Hernandez comes the guile and craft.

An error free Green is also required for this one because the capable back four should provide enough rear guard against a limited attack. Green will need to concentrate on the set pieces and high balls that will undoubtedly come his way.

Sick bay

Ipswich have lost on loan hit man Tom Lawrence through injury. He has provided ten goals this season and will surely be missed.

United will be without Charlie Taylor (at going to press). However, Pontus Jansson should have recovered from his illness.

Head-to-Head

Leeds lost this fixture last year 2-1 and, of a total of 34 meetings at Portman Road, Ipswich have won 16, Leeds 11 and 7 drawn.

Form

Leeds have won 3 and lost 2 of their last five.

Ipswich have won only 1, lost 1 and drawn 3.

WHAT

Ipswich Town vs. Leeds United

EFL Championship fixture

WHERE

Portman Road, Ipswich

LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds, International Listings

WHEN

Saturday, February 17, 2017

07:00am PT / 10:00am ET / 3:00pm BT

WHO

Leeds United predicted starting XI

Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi, Bridcutt, Sacko, Barrow, Hernandez, Roofe, Wood

Subs:

Ipswich Town predicted starting XI

Bialkowski, Spence, Chambers, Knudsen, Emmanuel, G Ward, Douglas, Huws, Kenlock, McGoldrick, Lawrence

Subs:

ODDS

Leeds 6/4

Draw 21/10

Ipswich 2/1

PREDICTION

The odds are about right: it will be a low scoring and unpredictable encounter. As much as I’d like the win, considering Ipswich’s taste for draws, I have to say 1-1.