Where Leeds United must improve with star pair need amid huge Ipswich Town chance: David Prutton

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Leeds United can move four points clear of Ipswich Town this week. That would be huge, writes DAVID PRUTTON.

Then it goes back to Ipswich who don't play until next Saturday night at Hull City and it goes back to that whole debate about whether you would prefer to have points on the board or games in hand. Therefore Leeds would have the points on the board and Ipswich would have to operate with those two games in hand which can bring its own pressure. It's a fascinating set up for it.

Leeds go to Middlesbrough this evening and then QPR on Friday night and Boro were of course play-off semi-finalists last season. They had aspirations of that this season too and they've not quite hit that particular mark. The maths just about still work for them in terms of the play-offs but it would be a long shot.

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As for QPR, it's about pulling away from the danger zone. They may have been routinely dispatched by Hull City last time out but they have been a better team under new boss Marti Cifuentes. They have shown signs of real improvement and signs of pulling away from the bottom three, which is absolutely what they've done.

TIME OF NEED: For Leeds United star Georginio Rutter, above. Photo by Ed Sykes/Getty Images.TIME OF NEED: For Leeds United star Georginio Rutter, above. Photo by Ed Sykes/Getty Images.
TIME OF NEED: For Leeds United star Georginio Rutter, above. Photo by Ed Sykes/Getty Images.

All in all, there is so much at stake in these two games for all the sides involved and they are by no means straightforward fixtures as we've seen Leeds toil lately. You can look at the Leeds defeat to Blackburn and they did have chances to a degree. But on the day, Blackburn were just the more ruthless and showed Leeds how it is done so it's a very, very intriguing pair of games, to see where they're going to be come the start of next Saturday's fixtures after they've played on the Friday night.

In terms of the team, maybe Patrick Bamford comes back into the team with the bit between his teeth and adds a bit of extra impetus. But across the board we are looking for Leeds to hit top form again. There is so much to like about this team. There's so much that this team is very, very capable of and it needs a reaffirmation of what they can do.

Even the superstars of this division can be fallible, can be at the mercy of form and fitness. There's no doubt about it, it's a long season, it's a long demanding season in which Leeds have done so many good things. But now Daniel Farke’s side have to go back to the well again and make sure that they can pour something out of it. That's what they need.

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They need Crysencio Summerville being at his absolute magical best, they need Georginio Rutter being able to occupy opposition defences. If you've got the wider players like Dan James flying up and down the wing they've got to make sure they get the delivery right into the box.

Set pieces have got to be better. I've thought that for a while with Leeds. I don't see a free-kick or corner specialist at all but we've said that for quite a long time with Leeds so there's that to work on plus defensively taking chances when there's a bit of jeopardy in the game which brings a bit of nervousness into the ground. They've got to keep an eye on that. And maybe just do as Daniel Farke preaches and has done when it's been great, when it’s been not so great and when it’s been indifferent.You can't fault the way that Daniel led the team from a personality point of view. You can maybe question it sometimes when you look at changes on 60-65 minutes where Leeds end up with a shed load of attacking players on. That's all well and good, but it needs some cohesion, not just chucking it at the ball and seeing what happens. It needs a real kind of clinical nature and a speed of thought and decisive play. There is so much to think about.

It's easier said than done especially, as an armchair watcher as I am now, but Leeds need top performances. They need to be at their best, at their most fatigued portion of the season to get them over the line and then hope that their best somehow affects other teams to make sure that the ones that do have the points in the places above them drop them.

I can see Leeds going to Middlesbrough and winning, completely. But I can also see Boro doing a job on them so Leeds have got to be very, very wary of what that threat is and be very respectful of what that threat is.

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If Leeds end up above the dotted line at the end of the season when the full complement of the regular games are played then they will have earned that because you have got three/four teams that have pushed each other all the way.

There's a broader debate in there about the strength of the Championship and who can fight it out at the top. But it's been thrilling so far. It's a test of mettle, a test of skill and a test of what they believe themselves to be. If they think they're too good for the Championship and they believe that they are good for the Championship then you've got to show us.

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