With Stevenage firmly in the rear-view mirror, Aston Villa take on Leeds United under the lights at Villa Park on Friday. However you take the previous loss, and it was most certainly an embarrassing one, Leeds present a sterling opportunity to right the ship. In their previous outing, an FA Cup match against a ten-man Cardiff, festivities ended in a 2-2 draw. Something that would raise scrutiny if not for my aversion to throwing rocks in glass houses. Prior to that was another 2-2 result; this time against West Ham United at Elland Road, while the Whites drew 0-0 against Newcastle United back in December at Saint James Park. Key players to keep an eye on include, but shouldn’t be limited to, Patrick Bamford coming back from injury at striker, Pascal Struijk at left-back, and Tyler Adams in midfield.
With Villa this week, injuries to John McGinn and Matty Cash are the major issue. Presumably running out of the 4-2-2-2, Emi Martinez will return in goal, with Lucas Digne at left-back, Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konza partnering at center-back, and Ashley Young at right-back. The arrival of left-back Alex Moreno from Real Betis this week will push Digne if not supplant him altogether as the starter, but it may be a bit too soon for him to feature against Leeds. The holding midfielder partnership will be Boubacar Kamara and Douglas Luiz. Further up the pitch, things could go a variety of ways given the McGinn injury. My personal preference would be an Emi Buendia and Jacob Ramsey duo with Ramsey taking on McGinn’s role as he’s more suited. Up top, I’m guessing we’ll see Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey once again.
PREDICTION: The injury situation isn’t ideal, but it’s no four alarm fire either. There’s a decent enough chance we see Cash play, or at least be available, and Jacob Ramsey is capable of filling in for McGinn. I feel confident that Villa can bounce back from what’s hopefully an aberration, 2-1 to the Villa.