Talking Tactics

Promoted clubs: Ipswich trio can step up in Premier League

By Adrian Clarke 9 Jun 2024
Ipswich three players composite Burns-Morsy-Davis

Adrian Clarke on why Davis, Morsy and Burns can impress in the top flight this season

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Following back-to-back promotions Ipswich Town have returned to the Premier League after 22 seasons without top-flight football. 

Kieran McKenna is the mastermind behind the Tractor Boys' success, but who are the players fans should keep an eye on this season?

Adrian Clarke gives a run-down on Ipswich's most dangerous players.

Leif Davis
leif davis

The rampaging left-back has Premier League quality inside the opposition half.

Brimming with energy, the 24-year-old flies up and down the flank, supplying top-class crosses into the penalty area.

Davis averaged around eight crosses per match in last season’s Championship, with a reasonably high proportion of those coming from corners.

Whether it is a dead-ball situation or a cross from open play, his left foot is a major asset for the Tractor Boys.

No player made more key passes or assists in the second tier last season than Davis.

Championship 2023/24 top creators
Player Key Passes Assists Assists
Leif Davis 125 Leif Davis 18
Sorba Thomas 123 Georginio Ruttter 15
Gabriel Sara 119 Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall 14
Crysencio Summerville 112 Adam Armstrong 13
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall 109 Abdul Fatawu 13

From a defensive standpoint, Davis is snappy in the tackle, making 53 challenges on dribblers across 2023/24, according to Fbref.

His determination stands out, but this aspect of the game is not his strongest suit.

It is what he does in possession that shines brightest, carrying the ball with confidence into advanced areas before delivering accurate crosses.

Davis created 21 chances from ball carries - including six assists - during 2023/24, so top-flight opponents will need to close down his space.

His link-up play with Conor Chaplin was a feature of Ipswich's tactical make-up during an amazing promotion campaign. Davis set up seven goals for the attacking midfielder, the most successful combination in the division.

Davis is an integral part of McKenna’s starting XI and at 24, he is coming into the prime of his career.

Sam Morsy
sam morsy

In his 16th season as a professional footballer, Ipswich captain Morsy will finally make his Premier League debut in 2024/25.

The Egypt international has been a revelation during his three-year spell at Portman Road, making significant improvements under McKenna's guidance.

Consistently dictating matches with his tenacity, drive and control, Morsy is a leader who has been the heartbeat of the team's success.

He was named the club's Player of the Year in April, which was no mean feat in a season that featured so many excellent displays from team-mates. Since then, Morsy has also been voted as the PFA Championship Fans’ Player of the Year, too.

This coming campaign the 32-year-old is sure to rattle some cages with his robust style.

He won the second-highest number of tackles in last season’s Championship, but committed the most fouls too, resulting in 14 yellow cards.

Most tackles won in Championship 2023/24
Player Most tackles won
Trai Hume (Sunderland)  97
Sam Morsy (Ipswich) 80
Jamilu Collins (Cardiff)  76
Jack Stacey (Norwich)  75
Perry Ng (Cardiff)  75

What sets Morsy apart from most "enforcers" is his quality in possession, a trait that has gone from strength to strength since McKenna took charge.

He keeps the ball well and will always try to move it forward. The stats below show how progressive he is with his passing - a quality that will be important for Ipswich on their long-awaited Premier League return.

Morsy's pass stats/rank in 23/24
Stat Total Championship rank
Passes into the final third 286 6th
Progressive passes 282 7th
Through balls 16 6th
Wes Burns

Counter-pressing is a huge part of Ipswich’s tactical approach, and the hard-working wide man is excellent in that department.

Busy and tenacious down the right, Burns is adept at helping Ipswich regain possession inside the opposition half.

Many of their attacks last season stemmed from turnovers he was involved in forcing.

The former Fleetwood Town player also has a penchant for flair. His sensational finish with the outside of his boot against Coventry City was voted Goal of the Season at the EFL Awards night.

Burns is not especially prolific with either goalscoring or providing assists, producing six and four respectively in 2023/24.

His value to the team is often sparking initial breakaways that tend to be finished off by team-mates.

On the back of two consecutive promotions, the prospect of experiencing Premier League football for the first time will excite, not faze him. This means rival left-backs must prepare themselves for plenty of direct runs from the winger.

Burns made 23 key passes from ball carries last season (11th in the Championship) averaging just under two shot assists per 90 minutes in open play. Only eight Championship players delivered more successful crosses into the penalty area too.

He may not be one of Ipswich’s most glamorous names, but Burns is a player a player McKenna knows he can rely on, a wide man who suits their style of play very well.

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