Steven Schumacher

Schumacher's Ipswich Preview

Sync Fixtures

Steven Schumacher is asking his players to show respect but not fear when Argyle meet Sky Bet League One leaders Ipswich Town on Sunday at Home Park (12.30pm).

The game will be shown live on Sky Sports, and Home Park is expected to be close to capacity as The Pilgrims meet a side in the top two of the division for the second consecutive weekend.

Last Saturday, a topsy-turvy encounter at unbeaten Portsmouth saw Argyle come from 1-0 down to lead 2-1, only to be denied victory by a last-ditch Pompey equaliser.

Ipswich, managed by Kieran McKenna, top the league after nine games, and are also yet to taste defeat this season. However, buoyed by how close his side came to ending Portsmouth’s record, Schumacher is readying his side to take a shot at ending Ipswich’s lossless run.

In what will be Argyle’s tenth game of the campaign, it is yet another fixture against a team expected to be a leading light when 46 games are completed. Thus far, Argyle have won all four of their home fixtures, without conceding a goal; have beaten all three sides relegated from the Championship last season; and scored in every league fixture they have played.

It also looked to be a tough start to the season – and it has been – but the manager is naturally pleased with the reaction of his squad so far.

He told Argyle TV: “When the fixtures came out, I looked at the first ten games and thought: ‘Oh my God. Wow. That’s going to be hard.’ Credit to the players who have risen to the challenge every single week.

“We have played some big teams, put in some big performances and picked up some good results. We are deservedly third in the league at the moment. We have the opportunity, if we win on Sunday, to go top. For us to be doing that after ten games is a brilliant achievement, and hopefully we can get the win.”

The shifting of the fixture to a Sunday lunch-time start time obviously brings with it some logistical challenges, but Schumacher has tweaked preparations to hopefully enable all in Green to be primed when kick-off arrives.

This includes the Green Army, whom Schumacher is trusting will keep up their own sequence of exemplary performances this season.

“We try to keep it as similar to how it normally is,” said the manager. “The players got an extra day off because we got back late from Swindon on Tuesday night, so we’ve had a bit more time to rest and recover. We’ve had a bit more time to watch the footage of Ipswich, which we’ve needed to do, because they have some power and some weapons. We’ll be prepared as best we possibly can on Sunday.

“Sometimes in the early kick-offs, the atmosphere can take a bit of time to get going, but I think everybody knows the occasion. It’s a top of the table clash, the Sky cameras are in; hopefully the atmosphere can get going from the very start.

“We’ll also pay tribute to Dave Smith, who was one of Argyle’s best managers. Hopefully the players can put in a performance to really get the atmosphere going.’

The challenge arriving from East Anglia to bound to be a stern one. Ipswich have won four of their five away games this season, a 100% record denied only by a 2-2 draw at Sheffield Wednesday while Argyle were completing the same scoreline at Fratton Park, as the top four in the division all met last Saturday.

Subjectively and objectively, Ipswich rank among the top the sides in the division, but Schumacher is out to prove that Argyle can be in that category, providing they continue to do what they do well.

“Ipswich have, in my opinion, the strongest squad in the league, closely matched by Sheffield Wednesday,” he said. “It’s going to be a great game, and hopefully one we enjoy.

“They are good in all departments. They are first in the league in possession, first in forward passes into the opposition box – and top of the table for points.

“All the squads we come up against have got good players. If we stand off and respect them too much they will hurt us. We need to do what we’ve been good at: try to be aggressive with our press, try to win the ball back and cause them a few problems when we’ve got the ball.

“We know the strengths they have got but we are not fearful of Ipswich. We’ve shown we can be a match for anyone if we are at it.

“The message to the players will be that these are top of the league, and deservedly so, but we can’t be fearful of them. Let’s give it our best, play with the energy we need, and show some quality as well. If we can be the first to take their scalp, and with it go top of the league – what more motivation do you need?”



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