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Leeds vs Villa Preview: Who do you think should start?

As Villa look to life with Grealish in the stands, what can Dean Smith and his men expect from Leeds United?

Aston Villa v Leeds United - Premier League Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Midlands vs Yorkshire, Smith vs Bielsa, Aston Villa vs Leeds United.

Somehow, this fixture has become somewhat of a rivalry over recent years and one that both sets of fans eagerly await.

Villa and Leeds are both in similar form as of late (Villa have picked up 7 points over their last 5 games with Leeds picking up 6) as the foundations are being set for an entertaining clash.

But what can Dean Smith and his men expect from Leeds and how do you think they should line-up on Saturday?

Leeds United v Aston Villa - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

LET’S LOOK AT THE STATS

When considering the threat of Leeds under Bielsa, it is hard to look away from the relentless, hard-working nature of their philosophy.

It doesn’t take an experienced football pundit to watch a Leeds game and notice the hard work and supernatural fitness of every player.

To quantify this observation, let’s look at some of the stats.

Leeds have managed to outrun every single opponent they have faced this season.

Looking at the graph below, you can really see the effort the Leeds players put into the games, with deficits between them and their opponents as high has 8.9 kilometres.

It is clear that the first step in trying to beat Bielsa’s Leeds side involves being fit enough to keep up with them for an entire 90 minutes.

Something Villa failed to do in the reverse fixture at Villa Park.

Where Leeds have really impressed this season is in the number of goals they have scored.

Leeds are the fifth highest scorers in the league this season, having scored more goals than Villa, Everton, Tottenham, Arsenal, and Chelsea.

Considering Leeds are a newly promoted side and their starting XI is very similar to the one that got them into the Premier League, this is quite the achievement.

The thing holding Leeds back, however, is the high number of goals they are conceding at the other end.

Leeds have conceded 43 goals so far this season; only West Brom have conceded more.

If we put this data into a graph, you can clearly see the incredible amount of goals Leeds fans have come to expect when watching their team play.

@graph_root

Looking at the next graph enables us to see the immense amount of pressure this Leeds side inflicts upon their opponents.

@graph_root

Leeds United are way above the league average in terms of pressure applied to teams and tackles made on the opposition.

In fact, they are leading the league in both aspects.

This is an incredible visualization of Leeds’ ability not only to apply constant pressure, but to do it successfully as their high number of tackles show.

Dean Smith will be wary of this and will be hoping for no errors at the back as Leeds will be ready to pounce.

ONE TO WATCH

Patrick Bamford is proving to be a real asset to Leeds United this season and will be under consideration for Gareth Southgate’s Euro’s squad.

The graphic below shows just how impressive the number 9 has been in comparison to other English strikers.

Villa fans will know too well about the threat that Bamford poses this season, with the striker netting a hat-trick in the reverse fixture at Villa Park earlier this season.

EXPECTED LINE-UP’S

Leeds will be going into the game without Kalvin Phillips or Jamie Shackleton, while Mateusz Klich had to be withdrawn from their last game with a back injury.

The game is also likely to be too soon for summer signing, Rodrigo.

As for the Villans, Grealish will miss out on Saturday while Matty Cash, Kourtney Hause, and Wesley are still out injured.

Aston Villa v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images

Ross Barkley will be fighting for his spot in the starting XI following a run of bad form and new signing, Morgan Sanson, looking to apply pressure to his starting position.

Who do you think should start? Fill in the form below and we will release a ‘Fans XI’ before the game!