PREVIEW: Leeds at home

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Could Bjarnason replace Grealish?

Aston Villa welcomes Leeds United to Villa Park for the last game at Villa Park of 2018. The game is already being regarded as a 6-pointer by some Villa fans so a lot rides on the outcome.

Villa have drawn their last two Championship games and drew three of their last four games. Dean Smith will be hoping they can make a return to winning ways as we going into the very busy festive period.

Villa has an impressive home record having only lost 1 at Villa Park in 11 games so far this season. Leeds are not to be sniffed at though as they have picked up more points on the road than any other side this season, 21.

THE OPPOSITION

Leeds United have had a song sung about them for many years now. You know it: “Leeds are falling apart again” but is this finally the season that Leeds make their long-awaited return to the Premier League?

Leeds made a real statement this summer when they appointed Marcelo Bielsa as their new manager. So far it has paid off with the Yorkshire side sitting top of the Championship, 1 point ahead of Norwich City. 12 ahead of Villa who sits 8th.

The statistics back up their early season form also. An average of 59.1% possession and 15.2 shots per game are a Championship high. Their pass success rate is equally impressive with an average of 79.1%. Only three sides have better success with Villa being one of them (80.4%). Villa will certainly have to be at their best if they are to take anything from this fixture.

ONE TO WATCH

My one to watch is probably no real surprise to anyone. 33-year-old Pablo Hernández. The attacking midfielder who has played predominately on the right this season has scored 7 goals and assisted just as many.

Many would argue he is too good for the Championship. He can just about do anything.  Hernández can take set pieces, hold up the ball, cross. You name it from an attacking midfielder, he can do it. If we can nullify his threat then maybe, Villa will have a chance tomorrow.

TEAM NEWS

Grealish will miss the game against LeedsSmith confirmed in his press conference yesterday the news we were all dreading. Jack Grealish is ruled out. The medical team are unsure of Jack’s injury which is never good news and could see him ruled out for the foreseeable future.

Henri Lansbury has also been ruled out. He is close to a return but Leeds is thought to be too early for him. There is better news where Albert Adomah is concerned. He is running again and Smith hopes to include him in his squad.

Birkir Bjarnason is available while Mile Jedinak is rated 50/50.

Leeds are set to welcome back Luke Ayling who has been missing for two months with a knee injury.

HEAD TO HEAD

Aston Villa heads the head to head battle with 39 wins to Leeds 30. 29 games have ended all square between the to sides.

Villa have a decent recent record against United with one defeat in the last 6 meetings. Although three of those ended in a draw.

The first-ever meeting between the two sides took place in 1924. Villa won the game 3-0 at Villa Park in the FA Cup.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Predicted XI: Nyland; Hutton, Chester, Tuanzebe, Taylor; McGinn, Bjarnason, Hourihane; Bolasie, El Ghazi; Abraham.

Kick Off: 13.30
TV: Sky Sports Football
Tickets: Limited. Estimated 39,500
Odds: Aston Villa 6/4 Leeds 15/8 Draw 13/5 (Bet365)

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