Date: 13 January 2018
Time: 15.00 GMT, 10.00 AM EST
Venue: Portman Road, Ipswich
Radio: BBC Radio Leeds (not available online)
All-time Record: Leeds United v Ipswich Town 32W 21D 27L
Reverse Fixture: Leeds United 3 -2 Ipswich Town
Leeds will be hoping to repeat the result, if not the process, from the match against Ipswich at Elland Road. Ipswich were on top for much of the match, but an own goal from the Ipswich keeper, Bartosz Bialkowski, allowed Leeds to win the match with a final score of 3-2.
Despite a less than festive stretch of holiday fixtures, Leeds still sits in 6th place and in the playoff places as of today, although Sheffield United could leap into the standings depending on the results of the Steel City Derby against Sheffield Wednesday that will be played Friday night.
As bad as the loss against Birmingham City and the draw against Nottingham Forest have been in regards to the position in the table for Leeds, Ipswich is coming off of an even worse run of form. Ipswich have lost three of their last five matches, including a 4-1 loss to Fulham and a 2-1 loss to Derby County. Ipswich is also out of the FA Cup, having lost 1-0 to Sheffield United last Saturday.
UPDATED - "I will learn from this situation and never repeat it." Samuel Saiz apologises and accepts a six-match ban for spitting at Newport County's Robbie Willmott:https://t.co/w7KiHWYuJP pic.twitter.com/kKH6CQf0w2— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 8, 2018
Leeds last played a league fixture on the 1st of January, giving some of the players a well-needed rest. However, Leeds will be without Luke Ayling because of injury and Samu Saiz because of suspension, and the club will sorely miss two of the squad’s better performers on the season.
Up front, look for Kemar Roofe to once again get the start. Roofe was rested for the FA Cup match against Newport County despite scoring a hat-trick against the Exiles in the League Cup victory over the Welsh side in the League Cup back in August. He will almost certainly start on Saturday, and he will also almost certainly get the start at striker, despite Pierre-Michel Lasogga being fit.
Pablo Hernandez was rested against Newport County as well, and he will also likely play as the attacking midfielder, number 10 role for Leeds. With Saiz suspended for the next six matches, Hernandez is the most creative player that Leeds have and he’ll be back playing his natural position, rather than shoe-horned in on the wing. Hopefully he forces Bialkowski into another own-goal.
As for the wingers, Stuart Dallas might be fit to play, and if he is, he should absolutely get the start on the left. If he isn’t good to go, then the selection gets a little more complicated. Gjanni Alioski should also start at winger for Leeds, but he’s best when he plays on the right. If Dallas isn’t fit, and he very well might not be, then Alioski will likely play on the left and Pawel Cibicki would get the start on the right
Cibicki looked great against Queens Park Rangers, but against Newport County he looked like the same lost puppy as he did against Leicester City in the League Cup defeat at the King Power Stadium. It’s tough to tell if he benefits from the rest of the team taking pressure away from him, allowing him time on the ball, or if playing with players like Jay-Roy Grot and Lasogga, who seem unable to get open in the opposing team’s penalty box, leaves him with a lack of opportunities to distribute the ball.
In central midfield, hopefully Ronaldo Vieira can play, otherwise look for Kalvin Phillips to partner with Eunan O’Kane. The midfield looked shockingly bad without Vieira against Newport, and the partnership between Phillips and Vieira is starting to pay dividends for Leeds. O’Kane is a quality player, and he and Phillips formed a good partnership earlier in the season, so it’s not a crisis if Vieira can’t go, but if both of them are missing, Leeds are in trouble. The combo between Phillips and Mateusz Klich did not look very good, as Newport were able to control much of the play.
Ayling damaged cartilage in that tackle with Liam Bridcutt against Nottingham Forest. Makes the signing of De Bock even more essential. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 10, 2018
On defence, this will be the first league match all season that hasn’t seen Luke Ayling start at right back, meaning that the new signing Laurens De Bock won’t have a lot of time to settle in before taking up the starting spot at left back, allowing Gaetano Berardi to shift over to his preferred right-back position. Liam Cooper and Pontus Jansson will almost certainly be the pairing in central defence, unless Cooper’s performance against Newport would warrant his benching in favour of Matthew Pennington, although that would be harsh on the Leeds skipper.
I never thought I’d type this, but I’ll be glad to see Felix Wiedwald back in net for Leeds. Andy Lonergan wasn’t at fault for any of the goals against Newport, but Wiedwald’s distribution is far superior and Leeds play best, and can control the match, when they pay from the back, something that is missing when Lonergan plays.
Leeds need a response after the ugly loss against Newport, and if Thomas Christiansen hopes to guide this team to the playoffs and a chance at promotion, the club has to grab all three points against a reeling Ipswich Town team. We have had far, far too many of these “the club needs these points” matches so far this season, and Leeds are lucky that beyond Wolverhampton, this division is pretty tight on quality and depth. Leeds will be looking for a result on the road, and after a fairly shocking FA Cup exit, it will be a test of TC’s motivation skill for this club to get a result. I’ll go for a win. Leeds 2-0.
Leeds United: (4-2-3-1) Wiedwald; Berardi, Cooper, Jansson, De Bock; Vieira, Phillips; Cibicki, Hernandez, Alioski; Roofe
Ipswich Town: (4-3-3) Bialkowski; Knudsen, Chambers, Webster, Spence; Connolly, Waghorn, Bru; Celina, Garner, Ward