With Jack Grealish still ruled out with a mysterious unknown injury, the prospects of a win against Marco Bielsa’s team looked slim.
All Villa fans were pleasantly surprised.
This game saw a change in formation and personnel for Dean Smith.
Marvelous Nakamba and Jacob Ramsey came in for the out of form Ross Barkley and Douglas Luiz.
The formation also changed to 4-3-3, which is the system Villa swapped to in the second half of the Leicester game, where they looked so much more effective.
Marvelous once again
These changes would prove to be influential in Villa coming away with all three points here.
Marvelous Nakamba was instrumental in disrupting everything Leeds United could throw at Villa.
He tallied six interceptions, four ground duels (100% won), one aerial duel (100% won), two tackles, and a blocked shot.
Villa are yet to concede whilst he is on the pitch this season and when he plays like this, it is not secret as to why that is the case.
For me, he was Man of the Match.
Promising and Assured
Jacob Ramsey was exactly what Villa needed in this game, energy.
Not only did he lead the team for progressive passes (three), goal creating actions (one), and dribbling success rate (100%), he was fantastic defensively and accumulated a 38.5% successful pressure rate, two tackles, three blocks, and an interception.
He hounded Leeds from start to finish and at just 19 years of age, looked very assured in this midfield.
Leeds kept quiet
Leeds themselves were below par in this game but you should credit the Villa defense for keeping their main players in Raphinha and Patrick Bamford quiet.
As the graphic shows, the majority of their attacks and overall expected goals (61% of their xG) value came from the left flank.
Before this game, Leeds had the second most crosses from the left flank with 223.
With starting right-back, Matty Cash, still out, it was clear they were going to target this side of the field.
They didn’t, however, account for the experienced Ahmed Elmohamady.
He was dribbled past zero times, cleared the ball five times, and intercepted it three times.
He stifled anything down that left side and his contributions may go unnoticed, but he was integral to this win.
Villa accumulated an expected goals value of 0.82 xG in the first half and finished with 0,95 xG, outlining how they possibly sat back in the second half.
They could have extended their lead in the first half, with goal scorer Anwar El Ghazi having several chances as well as Ollie Watkins being denied by the Leeds keeper.
Villa may have sat back, but they stepped up a gear in terms of defensive work rate.
As the graph outlines, towards the back end of the second half, where fans and players become more nervous, Villa began to completely dominate Leeds in duels all over the pitch.
Leeds are renowned for how hard they work and this should further emphasis how fantastic this performance was.
Full credit should be given to Villa and Dean Smith for the tactics implemented throughout this game.
Aston Villa won a league game without Jack Grealish for the first time since April 2019, proving they are not just a one-man team.
They did so by defensive resilience, but by also posing a severe threat throughout the majority of the game.
If Grealish had been there, Villa could have scored several more with his ability to break at pace.
Villa fans are now once again hopeful going into each game; temporary life without their captain is now a lot more manageable and enjoyable after this performance.