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Match Preview: Leeds United take on Ipswich Town in top of the table battle

Leeds look to extend home clean sheet streak against Ipswich

Burnley v Leeds United - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Match: Leeds United v Ipswich Town

Date: 23 September 2017

Time: 15.00 BST, 10.00 EDT

Venue: Elland Road

Television: None.

Radio: BBC Radio Leeds (not available online)

Streaming: LUTV for overseas fans

All-time Record: Leeds United v Ipswich Town 31W 21D 27L

Leeds United take on Ipswich Town on Saturday in what will be a “top 6” battle in the Championship. Leeds sit on top of table on goal difference, level on 17 points with Wolverhampton and Cardiff City. Ipswich Town have 15 points, level with both Preston North End and Sheffield United, but sit in 5th place on goal difference. Leeds look to carry the momentum from winning at Burnley in the League Cup into the next Championship match after losing for the first time all season at Millwall last week, while Ipswich also look to carry momentum from their last match, a 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers. Ipswich had previously lost three matches in a row to London teams, losing to Crystal Palace in the League Cup and to Queens Park Rangers and Fulham in the Championship before picking up all three points in a win at Portman Road against Bolton.

For the first time in what will seem like ages, the Leeds team will almost be one hundred percent fit, with only striker Caleb Ekuban, who is recovering from a broken foot, unavailable for the match. While this will create a bit of selection headache for Leeds head coach Thomas Christiansen, it’s a problem almost any manager would take over a lack of fit players. After all, due to fitness issues, Conor Shaughnessy, who is in his first season with the senior side, and Luke Ayling, a right back, played in central defence on Tuesday against a Premier League team instead of the top pairing of Liam Cooper and Pontus Jansson. This also means that Matthew Pennington is ready to play once again in the defence. Pennington, the loanee from Everton, had a fantastic debut against Bolton on the opening day of the season before coming off injured, but in the meantime the brilliant partnership of Cooper and Jansson will make it difficult for Pennington to crack the lineup.

One of the players that failed to impress in the midweek was Manchester United loanee Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. He came to the club with a lot of fanfare, but after a few Cup performances against League Two competition has been unable to get any minutes, and if his showing against Burnley is typical, he won’t be threatening Vurnon Anita’s position at left-back anytime soon.

Luke Ayling might be the best right-back in the Championship, and it would be unthinkable for him to not be one of the first names that Christiansen fills out on his team sheet. The lineup for the backline will likely be pretty unchanged from what we’ve been used to seeing. Ayling on the right, Jansson and Cooper in the middle and Anita on the left. Gaetano Berardi could be used at left-back instead, but with him just regaining match fitness, look for him and Pennington to start the match on the bench.

In goal, Felix Wiedwald will play between the sticks barring any unforeseen circumstances. He has been a workhorse for Leeds so far this year, and is likely looking to start another clean sheet streak after having given up a goal to Millwall last Saturday after not giving up any since the opening day win at Bolton, a six match clean sheet streak.

The midfield pairing rotation would seem to point to Kalvin Phillips and Eunan O’Kane starting in the middle of the park for Leeds again. The partnership between the two of them has been sparkling so far this season, making Liam Bridcutt redundant and forcing new transfer Mateusz Klich and last year’s young player of the year Ronaldo Vieira to start almost all matches on the bench. At this point, the two sets of players have played almost exclusively with each other, so it’s probably for the best to keep letting them play together until a loss of form or injury from either O’Kane or Phillips forces the issue.

The attacking midfield three has been the brightest spot for Leeds this season, with Samu Saiz, Gjanni Alioski, and Pablo Hernandez running riot over almost everyone in their path until last weekend’s loss at Millwall, with Hernandez especially looking off the pace. So, of course, Hernandez came on in the second half of the League Cup tie and turned the match on its head, putting in a glorious pass for Hadi Sacko to run onto a score the opening goal for Leeds and slotting home a penalty in extra time. While the play of Stuart Dallas and Kemar Roofe might get them in the starting XI at almost every team in the division, they will have to be content with the bench for now, unless Christiansen looks to rest one of his players after the midweek. Don’t count on it though, as Christiansen often seems loathe to rotate his players and usually likes to ride a lineup until it’s played itself out.

Up top, Pierre-Michel Lasogga will once again attempt to prove what a horrible mistake it was for Hamburger SV to cast him out of the first team and send him out on loan. He’s been great for Leeds since his loan to Elland Road, and there is almost no reason not to expect him to bounce back after being isolated for almost the entire match against Millwall.

Ipswich don’t play like Millwall, and a visit to a packed Elland Road will be a tall task for a team that couldn’t win away at Loftus Road or win at home against Fulham. Ipswich might be high in the table, but Leeds has a pretty good record so far this season, and the energy that will be created by the home crowd after the big win in the mid-week, coupled with the desire to put the Millwall loss even further behind them will make for a good match for Leeds this weekend. Look for Leeds to once again try to get to their game of putting the ball on the ground and taking the match to Ipswich. While this match will present a challenge to the team, look for Leeds to win again at home.

Predicted Score:

Leeds United 3-0 over Ipswich Town

Predicted Lineups:

Leeds United: (4-2-3-1) Wiedwald; Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Anita; Phillips, O’Kane; Hernandez, Saiz, Alioski; Lasogga.

Ipswich Town: (4-4-2) Bialkowski; Connolly, Spence, Iorfa, Knudsen; Ward, Skuse, Adeyemi, Waghorn; McGoldrick, Garner