Aston Villa and Leeds, two clubs that during the 1970’s and 80’s were huge forces in Europe that due to poor ownership and management both find themselves in the second tier. As it stands, the Yorkshire club finds themselves sitting in 14th place while Villa sits 4th.
Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani would’ve expected better results after the appointment of young promising manager Paul Heckingbottom from Barnsley following the sacking of Thomas Christiansen. Since then, Leeds have won just 2 in their last 18 games. Of these 18 games, 9 have been away from Elland Road and have resulted in 6 losses.
One thing that has been poor from Leeds this season is their discipline. So far this term, they have received 84 yellow cards and 7 red cards. To put this into perspective, we have received just 56 yellow cards and 2 reds in the same amount of games.
Leeds have been very good in front of goal scoring 54 goals which are only 12 goals less than ourselves, on 66, which is impressive considering we are 10 places above them in the table. Their top two goal scorers Pierre-Michel Lasogga and Kemar Roofe are currently sitting on 10 goals with 33-year-old Pablo Hernandez sitting just behind them on 7.
Leeds have plenty of options when it comes to creativity and Villa will do well to keep them quiet. Hernandez, 7 goals 8 assists, Samu Saiz 5 goals 7 assists and Ezgjan Alioski with 6 goals and 5 assists. These men have been instrumental in Leeds’ attack this season and without their contribution in both goals and assists, they could find themselves in a far worse position than they currently are.
It’s the defensive side that lets Leeds down having conceded 60 goals compared to our mere 40. This poor defensive record has offset their fairly impressive goalscoring record resulting in their disappointing current league position.
Birkir Bjarnason should be available after shaking off a back injury he picked up in the warm-up against Cardiff.
Alan Hutton (hamstring), John Terry (ankle) and Axel Tuanzebe (ankle) will all miss the game with the manager stating the game has come ‘too soon’.
Leeds will be without dependable left-back Gaetano Berardi through suspension, while the rock of Leeds’ backline, Pontus Jansson will be assessed for a concussion. They will also be without first-team regulars such as with Matthew Pennington, Luke Ayling, Adam Forshaw and Eunan O’Kane.
THE BIG MATCH
Since arriving at the club, Heckingbottom has employed a 4-2-3-1 system, playing with two defensive-minded midfielders allowing a line of 3 attackers in the form of Saiz, Hernandez and Alioski to get forward and achieve the statistics they have this season sitting just behind a lone striker. The dangerous thing about the line of 3 is that they interchange regularly with all of them having the ability to play centrally as well as out wide. This is similar to the way Leicester have played at times this season with Albrighton, Mahrez and Gray swapping all the time. If this isn’t countered by vigilant and focused defending, it could cost us dearly.
Leeds have conceded the majority of their 60 goals (16) between 75 and 90 minutes. This could work well in our favour as we have scored 27 of our 66 goals between the 60th and 90th minute. If we can pace ourselves well and bring on substitutes that have an impact such as Jonathan Kodjia, we could find some good opportunities in the final third of the game.
Aston Villa needs to be wary of Leeds as they have nothing left to play for this season which as we saw at Carrow Road last weekend, can mean that there is no pressure on the players to perform as there will have been for the rest of the season.
It is all ifs and buts of course but should we beat Leeds we could go within one point of 3rd placed Cardiff and two points behind second-placed Fulham who will have games in hand. If results can go our way this weekend then the race for automatic promotion could be back on.
There are still tickets available with around 35,000 expected at Villa Park this evening. Leeds has sold out their full allocation of tickets that they have taken.
Adults tickets are available from £20, Under 16’s from £5. Purchase tickets here.
LIVE MATCH CHAT
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