Ipswich are currently exceeding all expectations, sitting in second place and looking to go top with a victory at Portman Road.
Their opponents this weekend are the team that helped them close the gap on Championship leaders Derby last week - Leeds United. The Whites defeated Derby 2-0 at Elland Road to claim successive home victories, but they are still without a win away from home since the full-time appointment of Neil Redfearn as head coach, and that run is likely to continue against the Tractor Boys.
A strong defensive performance has been the key trait of Mick McCarthy's gameplan this term, and he should be thankful for the work done by Tyrone Mings, Christophe Berra and Tommy Smith in the back-line. However, it is not all defensive action securing a high placing this term, with 28 goals netted in 19 games making for impressive reading.
Daryl Murphy leads the Tractor Boys goalscoring charts with 11 strikes in 18 games, but it has been the performances of David McGoldrick that have been the catalyst in front of goal. After pricing Leicester City out of a deal for the forward over the summer, the 27-year-old Irishman has repaid the faith shown in him by McCarthy by scoring and assisting goals at an impressive rate.
He comes up against Leeds's own goal hero on Saturday, with Mirco Antenucci heading into the game on the back of downing Derby with two high-quality strikes. Seven goals to his name make him the Yorkshire-base side's top scorer this term, and he looks to be the most successful of the host of signings brought to Elland Road over the summer in the new regime of Massimo Cellino.
With both forwards looking to make a difference at Portman Road, we take a look at who has had the better season in the Championship.
|Goals||Assists||Mins per Shot||Mins per Dribble||Conversion Rate||Mins per Touch||Mins Played|
Both forwards have played a roughly equal amount of time, with McGoldrick making up a few extra minutes due to the early season games played before Antenucci had arrived in England. However, since his arrival, the 30-year-old has been the better performing striker.
The Italian has seven goals to McGoldrick's five, although he has one fewer assist. He has also achieved his higher goal tally from fewer shots, and he takes a shot at a slower rate than his East Anglian rival. His conversion rate of 14% far exceeds McGoldrick's 8%, and Antenucci has proven that he may just be the most naturally talented finisher in the entire division - despite a host of other players registering a higher goal tally.
What McGoldrick lacks in goalscoring finesse, he makes up in team ethic, and he is undoubtedly a more all-rounded player that Antenucci. He touches the ball more frequently that the Leeds man, and completes a dribble every 69 minutes - something Antenucci only achieves every 141 minutes.
McGoldrick's skills are the perfect style for Ipswich's system, as he places team success ahead of personal glory. For Antenucci, who has little need to create for his teammates, Leeds represents the best option for him, as Redfearn has his starting XI working to provide for the Italian forward. Both forwards have excelled for their respective sides this season, and it will surely be up to them to decide the important fixture on Saturday afternoon.