Championship Predictions: Gameweek 28

morisonIn the Championship, we have the prospect of another exciting West Yorkshire Derby, as Huddersfield play Leeds in a bottom half clash at the Galpharm Stadium. Ipswich and Wigan are both in need of 3 points for very different reasons, as Ipswich are aiming to end their 13 year top flight exile, while Wigan are in danger of returning to the 3rd tier for the first time in 12 years.

Huddersfield v Leeds

When it comes to great rivalries, Leeds United supporters will always preserve their hatred for Manchester United, rather than any of their Yorkshire rivals. However, their meetings with Huddersfield always seem to produce a fierce, high-tempo, and thoroughly entertaining contest.

There were 9 goals scored in 2 games between these teams last season. In the first game, there were 2 scored in the first 10 minutes as Huddersfield eventually won 3-2, and in the return fixture at Elland Road, Leeds scored 5 second half goals to secure an impressive victory, in spite of the speculation surrounding then manager Brian McDermott.

What are the chances of more of the same on Saturday? When Huddersfield are playing, you can normally expect goals, chiefly because they are not too strong at the back. The Terriers kept only their 1st clean sheet in 10 games last week, when they beat Wigan 1-0, and have conceded the 3rd highest number of goals in the Championship. Part of their problem seems to be a lack of pace, particularly with Mark Hudson at centre-back. Because of this, Chris Powell is forced to play with 2 holding midfielders who, on this occasion, are likely to be Conor Coady and new signing David Edgar. Going forward, Huddersfield like to attack through the wide areas, with the mobility of their forward players, such as Nahki Wells and Sean Scannell.

Leeds, on the other hand, are in tactical limbo. They had normally looked to play a short passing game under Neil Redfearn, yet they have recently signed Steve Morison, and have hit long balls to him in previous matches. There is a sense of confusion about the way Leeds want to play, and their squad is looking very imbalanced at the moment.

They already possess 10 central midfielders in the squad, and hardly any wide men. However, instead of bringing in a winger, which would make sense given that they have signed a target man in Morison, they have just grabbed at another midfielder, Grandi Ngoyi. Despite a respectable recent return of 5 points from their last 3 games, overall, there is a concerning lack of planning at that football club. Huddersfield are usually very strong at home, and this blog will back them to win.

Ipswich v Wigan

These teams last met in the reverse fixture, back in September. Ipswich won 2-1, in a match which summed up why both teams are where they currently are, 4 months down the line. For a start, Wigan had 61% possession that night, but they did not make enough of it. They passed the ball around in their own half, or along the halfway line, without ever looking like hurting their opponents. Wigan have often played either short passes or long balls forward, but neither of those moves tend to cause any problems. The way to stretch teams is to play with pace, dynamic movement, and a sense of urgency, which Wigan have very rarely done this season. This week, they have been dealt a blow in losing key man Callum McManaman, who is capable of conjuring up a moment of magic.

Ipswich Town will sense a real opportunity. This is a key weekend in a tight promotion race, as 4 of the Championship’s top 6 face each other, which will lead to dropped points. Even though Mick McCarthy’s side have lost 2 of their last 3, a win on Saturday could easily see them return to the automatic promotion places, and possibly to the top of the league.

The most impressive thing about Ipswich this season is that, unlike Wigan, they play with a real sense of purpose. When they do not have the ball, they always press their opponents high up the pitch, and when they do have it, they feed direct balls into the feet of their strikers, David McGoldrick, and of course the prolific Daryl Murphy.

This blog would argue that, of all the teams competing for promotion, Ipswich are one of the 2 teams who would be best placed to stay up in the Premier League, along with Middlesbrough. They have a solid defence and a hardworking midfield, which means that they will be able to deal with long spells of pressure. However, that is something that they may not have to worry about when they play Wigan.

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