Aston Villa head up North today to take on Leeds United at Elland Road in the Premier League. The game will kick off at 5.30 pm and will be live on Sky Sports Main Event.
During recent years, the two sets of fans have built up a little rivalry. The game at Elland Road in 2019 had it all. Goals that shouldn’t have been given, decisions that shouldn’t have been given, diving, controversy and some good old fashions sportsmanship. Regardless, it created a relationship between the two sets of fans.
It couldn’t be more different on the management front though. I am sure both Dean Smith and Marcelo Bielsa will want to get one over their counterpart but both seem to have mutual respect for each other and what both are achieving at their respective clubs.
It isn’t very often I right this segment of a match preview where I say that both sides will be pleasantly pleased with how their campaigns have gone. Both have got their plaudits and rightly so although both will want more consistency and I’m sure better quality outside their first eleven.
Leeds find themselves two positions and one point behind Villa in the Premier League table but have played two more games. They don’t seem to have a preference of where they play either. Most clubs favour home or away but not Leeds. Seventeen of their points have come at Elland Road while they have picked up eighteen on the road.
Bielsa is similar to Smith with his team selection also. When his first eleven are available, they generally play. They like a possession-based game with a high press. The latter is something Villa have struggled with this year. They are a little susceptible to individual errors and struggle to deal with set-pieces – hopefully, Villa has looked at this and will look to take advantage.
Aston Villa will be without their captain and talisman Jack Grealish for a second game running. Despite the various rumours of time frames and possible injuries, Smith has claimed neither he, the player or the medical team fully understand what is wrong with Grealish at the moment.
Matty Cash and Kortney Hause have stepped up their returns. Cash is back on the grass while Hause is back in the gym. Wesley continues to re-build his fitness and is expected to return to contact training next week.
Leeds will be without Kalvin Phillips, Rodrigo and Ian Poveda. All three are working on their fitness before they can return to first-team action. Mateusz Klich is a doubt and will be assessed before the game but Bielsa is hopeful on the midfielder.
Referee: Peter Bankes.
Assistants: Neil Davies, James Mainwaring. Fourth official: Craig Pawson. VAR: Darren England. Assistant VAR: Gary Beswick.
DID YOU KNOW
Emiliano Martinez has 12 Premier League clean sheets this season. That is more than any other Villa goalkeeper since Brad Friedel’s 15 in 2009/10.
If Leeds United beat Aston Villa today, it will be their first double over Villa since 1975/76.
HOW TO FOLLOW
I CANNOT WATCH LIVE
Join fellow Villa supporters by discussing tonight’s game on our forum in our live match chat.
Leeds United v Aston Villa will be shown live in the UK on Sky Sports Main Event.
Given our recent form on the field, it is hard to be positive about tonight’s game. I can take a defeat as much as the next person but I struggled with the performances when you know the players are capable of so much more.
The performance in the first half of last weeks defeat to Leicester City was unacceptable. But so was the performance against Brighton the week before. I could go on. The players need to find within themselves something that will enable them to pick themselves up and perform to the best of their ability otherwise a very impressive season is in serious danger of slipping away.
Leeds United 1-1 Aston Villa.