The game between Leeds United and Aston Villa a few weeks ago seemed like it could be massive. Fast forward to now and it seems like a nothing game. Both sides are now confirmed in the playoffs after Sheffield United all but confirmed automatic promotion yesterday.
Now comes the tricky decisions for the managers. Do you pick your strongest side to keep up the momentum going into the playoffs? Or do you rest your more valuable players to avoid suspensions and injuries? It’s a hard decision. One I don’t envy Dean Smith having to make. I don’t need to tell you how much playoff failure hurt me last season, I think I have told you this a few times through the season. One wrong decision between now and the playoffs could ultimately cost you promotion.
A win today for Villa would confirm at least fifth place in the Championship and a slim chance they could jump West Brom into fourth in the table. A win for Leeds would prevent Sheffield United from being promoted just yet. Although the Blades have a much better goal difference.
Leeds have had the season many expected them to after the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa. Some rival fans will claim they have fallen apart again when it really matters as they seemed to have thrown away the automatic spot. However, I am sure given their recent history the Leeds fans would still take a place in the playoffs.
Leeds are a possession-hungry side. In fact, they average the highest amount of possession in the division with 59.6% per game. On top of that, they have a pass accuracy of 79.2% and average more shots per game than any other side – 16.8. Villa will certainly have their work cut out at Elland Road today.
Interestingly both Villa and Leeds average player ratings are exactly the same so far this season – 6.82. Exact same as fellow confirm playoff side, West Brom.
Axel Tuanzebe is available to play but Tammy Abraham will miss out. Both missed the Millwall win last weekend. Tuanzebe was rested with an ankle injury while Abraham has a shoulder problem.
There was further positive news with regards those who are injured. Kortney Hause and Lovre Kalinic should be available for the game against Norwich next weekend. James Chester is back in training and could play a part in the playoffs.
Leeds will be without Keemar Roofe (hip) and Ezgjan Alioski (meniscus). Roofe should be back for the playoffs although Alioski has been ruled out for the rest of the season. 19-year-old Leif Davis will also miss the game after he posted this week that his ‘op went well’ on his personal Instagram.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Predicted XI: Steer; Elmohammady, Mings, Tuanzebe, Taylor; Whelan, McGinn, Grealish; Adomah, El Ghazi; Kodjia.
Kick off: 12.00
TV: Sky Sports Football
Venue: Elland Road, Leeds
Tickets: Sold out
Odds: Leeds 1/1 Aston Villa 5/2 Draw 13/5 (Skybet)