Venue: Villa Park
Date: Thursday 29th December 2016
Referee: Roger East
Aston Villa: L W L W W
Leeds United: W L W W W
Last time the two teams met: 3rd December 2016 – Leeds United 2 – 0 Aston Villa
It was earlier this month that the two teams met at Elland Road. Goals from Kemar Roofe and Chris Wood saw today’s visitors grab all three points.
Boxing Day’s victory against Burton Albion saw Bruce’s side record five home wins in a row for the first time in over twenty years. Tonight, in what’s set to be a tough test, the Villans will look to keep their home record intact.
The side is still yet to taste defeat at home and if the Villans can end a horrible 2016 unbeaten at Villa Park then they will close the gap on the top six ahead of the New Year’s Eve fixtures the other club’s face.
The club dealt well with the increased number of fans within the ground on Boxing Day and, with tickets selling well for tonight too, the players will need to show again that they can deal with the pressure that the passionate crowd can bring.
The visitors arrive at Villa Park in the midst of a brilliant run of form. They have lost only one of their last five games and that was away to top-of-the-table Brighton and Hove Albion, the game after beating Aston Villa earlier this month.
Garry Monk has had an outstanding start to his Leeds managerial career, turning a side that has consistently disappointed into a promotion-chasing outfit that looks incredibly hard to stop at this moment in time.
Monk’s team is easy on the eye and his men love to play a possession-based game with the ball at their feet. They will look to break through the Villa defence with the pace of Kemar Roofe and Hadi Sacko.
Gary Gardner picked up a slight knock in the victory over Burton Albion and looks set to miss the game. Gardner’s absence will mean Bruce will need to shuffle his pack after keeping an unchanged line-up on Monday. Jack Grealish replaced Gardner at half time and looks likely to get the nod if the midfielder is not passed fit.
Jordan Ayew produced a decent cameo after coming on against Burton Albion and will be pushing for a start but should start on the bench.
The visitors should have Chris Wood and Pablo Hernandez fit after they both returned to the bench on Monday.
This game will come too early for Charlie Taylor and Eunan O’Kane though.
One to watch
Kemar Roofe (pictured) scored his first goal for Leeds United against Aston Villa earlier this month and hasn’t looked back since.
Prior to netting that goal, he was offering a lot in the team but he has kicked on this month, delivering a brilliant performance in the 4-1 victory over Preston North End on Boxing Day.
The Villa defenders will be aware of the pace and power that he possesses after the game at Elland Road. They will need to be concentrating in order not to let him get into his flow or he could easily give Leeds United the attacking ability that they will be requiring.
Signed from Oxford United in the summer, the forward will pin himself to Alan Hutton on the Villa right and will be looking to cause major problems for the full-back.