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Villama Preview: Leeds United v Aston Villa

Coming off a very hard act to follow in the 4-0 drubbing of Southampton, Steven Gerrard and Aston Villa travel north to take on Jesse Marsch’s Leeds United. With the magic of the bucket throne having wained, Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings look to pile on the points in Yorkshire.

Four goals in the Southampton match wasn’t necessarily unexpected, the previous Villama Preview called a 2-2 draw, but all four goals belonging to the Villa was certainly a pleasant surprise. Ollie Watkins opened up the proceedings in the ninth minute and things rolled on from there. Danny Ings had one of his best games in claret and blue, with two assists and a goal and Philippe Coutinho was amazing as always. Ezri Konsa and Lucas Digne missed out on the action due to illness, but their absences were clearly overcome.

Moving on to the match in question, Leeds United are having a something of a hard time. Marcelo Bielsa was let go of following the February 26th loss to Spurs and the happy days of “Take Us Home: Leeds United” are edging just slightly more in the direction of “Sunderland ’Til I Die”. Maybe it’s not as bleak as the Black Cat’s plight, but things are decidedly iffy. Sitting at 16th in the table, the Whites haven’t won since January 22nd at West Ham United. The last three results feature a 6-0 loss at Liverpool, a slightly less gaudy 4-0 loss to Tottenham, and most recently an admirably modest 1-0 loss at Leicester City.

Their 23 points places them just outside the drop, edging Burnley’s (18th place) 21. Everton, sitting in 17th, has two games in hand over United. So, kind of bleak, but the horse hasn’t left the barn just yet. Players to watch include Raphina attacking on the wing, Stuart Dallas at right-back, as well as the thespian talents of striker Patrick Bamford who’s expected to play off of the bench.

Leeds United v Aston Villa - Premier League
FLASHBACK: Anwar El Ghazi’s goal in the 5th minute proved to be enough as Aston Villa held on for a 1-0 victory at Elland Road last term.
Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images

Following the 4-0 victory over Southampton, my thought would be to not change anything. It’s a little rough for Ezri Konsa and Lucas Digne, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Calum Chambers and Ashley Young should continue to start over Konsa and Digne, with Tyrone Mings partnering Chambers and Matty Cash playing opposite of Young at right-back. Emi Martinez maintains his starting position in goal. In the midfield, Douglas Luiz anchors, with Jacob Ramsey to his left and John McGinn to his right. Philippe Coutinho plays the 10 role as Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings maintain the partnership up front.

PREDICTION: As a Villa fan, games like this make me itchy. On paper, this should be what we call in Oklahoma a “big’ole whoopin”. Not just a win, but one that leaves a mark — humiliation so palpable it bruises. It feels like a trap game, playing against a squad in a relegation battle, with a new manager and doing so at their place. Leeds haven’t scored a goal since their 4-2 loss to Manchester United and Villa’s defensive woes feel like a thing of the past. I’m absolutely tempting fate with this, but 2-0 to the Villa for a third straight win!

Aston Villa Training Session
Could we see Danny Ings on the scoresheet at Elland Road this evening?
Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images