Leeds United return to Elland Road for the final time before Christmas on Saturday with the aim of gaining crucial ground in their pursuit of automatic promotion, having been unable to crack the top two despite enjoying a positive first half to the campaign under Daniel Farke.
Indeed, it has only been the fine form of Leicester City and Saturday’s opponents which has denied the Yorkshire outfit a place in the top two at this stage, as Saturday’s hosts collected 41 points from their first 20 league outings, culminating in three consecutive wins over Swansea City, Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers after the November international break.
They have been unable to add a 13th notch to the wins column in the last two attempts, though, firstly falling just short in a trip to Sunderland as Jobe Bellingham netted the only goal to condemn Farke’s side to a fourth league defeat of the term before they most recently played host to Coventry City last Saturday with the aim of getting back to winning ways.
Crysencio Summerville opened the scoring in the 58th minute of that contest, but Bobby Thomas quickly drew their visitors level and the promotion-hopefuls were unable to find a winning goal at Elland Road, settling for a somewhat underwhelming point.
Such a result meant that Leeds United remain 10 points behind Saturday’s visitors and fell 13 behind leaders Leicester City, and with the crucial contest bringing up the halfway point of the Championship season, they will be desperate to return to winning ways and begin narrowing the gap with their sights set on making an instant return to the Premier League.
Their visitors, meanwhile, are also new to the Championship this season with the aim of reaching the top flight, having only climbed from England’s third tier last time around under the management of Kieran McKenna.Ipswich
Town have enjoyed a memorable and seamless transition too, building up an eye-catching lead over third place having notched up 52 points from their first 22 matches, winning 16 of those while only suffering two defeats.
The most recent of those losses came away at West Bromwich Albion in late November, and the Tractor Boys bounced back in style with consecutive wins over Millwall, Coventry City, Middlesbrough and Watford to further strengthen their back-to-back promotion hopes, scoring nine goals across the four outings ahead of an East Anglian Derby against Norwich City on Saturday.
Aiming for a first win over their rivals in 14 years to move further clear of Leeds, McKenna’s men initially went ahead through Nathan Broadhead, but after Jon Rowe netted a brace for their visitors, they were eventually able to come away with a share of the spoils at Portman Road as Wes Burns levelled the scores.
Now with the chance to further build on what has been a historic start under McKenna and go 13 points clear of the chasing Whites at the halfway stage of the Championship term, Ipswich will travel to Elland Road looking to take a major scalp and make a quick return to winning ways.