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Preview: Leeds United vs. Aston Villa - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between Leeds United and Aston Villa, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Two teams who epitomise inconsistency prepare to do battle in the Premier League on Saturday evening as Leeds United welcome Aston Villa to Elland Road.

The Whites eased to a 3-0 win over Southampton last time out, while an out-of-sorts Villa succumbed to a 2-1 defeat to Leicester City.


Match preview

Leeds United's Stuart Dallas celebrates scoring their second goal with Luke Ayling and teammates on February 23, 2021© Reuters

A touching tribute to Kalvin Phillips's late grandmother capped off a perfect night for Leeds against Southampton, who were no match for Marcelo Bielsa's rampant attacking forces on Tuesday evening at Elland Road.

The game exploded into life in the second 45 after a relatively even first half, and it was the increasingly unpredictable Leeds who marched to an impressive win thanks to goals from Patrick Bamford, Stuart Dallas and the ever-improving Raphinha.

Defeats to Everton, Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers since the start of February had seen Leeds slip back into the bottom half of the Premier League table, but a second home win on the bounce means that Bielsa's men are back up to 10th after 25 matches, but the Elland Road faithful are aware of just how quickly their side's fortunes can change.

The Whites would leapfrog their weekend opponents Villa and Tottenham Hotspur into eighth with a third consecutive triumph on home soil this week, and recent history suggests that there will be a winner and a loser in this match, as Leeds have now gone 16 top-flight games without drawing since their goalless stalemate with Arsenal on November 22.

However, Leeds have not enjoyed their best results on a Saturday - with only two wins from eight games played on that day this season - and the hosts' medical room is filling up before they welcome a Villa side who were embroiled in their own injury controversy recently.

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith pictured in February 2021© Reuters

Premier League players taking part in fantasy football is nothing new, but Villa have reportedly proceeded to ban their squad from playing the game after news of Jack Grealish's injury was leaked through his teammates transferring him out of their sides.

Villa's off-the-pitch matters did not help their endeavours on the field whatsoever, as Dean Smith's beleaguered team succumbed to two first-half strikes from James Maddison and Harvey Barnes against Leicester, with Bertrand Traore's 48th-minute strike proving nothing more than a consolation.

The European dream is at risk of fading away for eighth-placed Villa, who have won just one of their last four top-flight matches and find themselves four points adrift of sixth-placed Liverpool, although they do have two games in hand over most of the teams above them.

With Smith's men still in with a realistic shout of a Europa League place, a win at Elland Road is of paramount importance this weekend, although they have only taken the spoils in three of their last 10 Premier League outings, including one from their last six away from home.

Furthermore, Leeds eased to a 3-0 victory at Villa Park when the sides met back in October - courtesy of Bamford's hat-trick - while Villa have not taken the spoils at Elland Road in the league since December 2000.

Leeds United Premier League form: WLWLLW

Aston Villa Premier League form: LWLWDL


Team News

Jack Grealish in action for Aston Villa on February 3, 2021© Reuters

As well as the already-injured Phillips, Leeds lost fellow midfielder Jamie Shackleton before the game due to abductor problems, while Mateusz Klich was forced off during the win with a back problem.

Pablo Hernandez would therefore love to earn a Premier League start if both players are ruled out of this one, but Pascal Struijk and Dallas deputising in midfield seems the most likely option.

Rodrigo is not expected to come back just yet either, while Helder Costa will hope to force his way into Bielsa's first XI after claiming an assist off the bench against Southampton.

Fantasy football controversy aside, Smith hopes to have Grealish back in the fold for the trip to Elland Road, but at the time of writing the 25-year-old is still considered a major doubt for the game.

Matty Cash and Kortney Hause remain sidelined, and with Ross Barkley flattering to deceive, new boy Morgan Sanson could finally be trusted from the first whistle.

Ollie Watkins has improved his goalscoring record of late, but he has failed to the back of the net in any of his seven meetings with Leeds - his worst record against an English side in the league.

Leeds United possible starting lineup:
Meslier; Ayling, Llorente, Cooper, Alioski; Raphinha, Struijk, Dallas, Harrison; Roberts; Bamford

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Elmohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, McGinn; Traore, Sanson, El Ghazi; Watkins


SM words green background

We say: Leeds United 2-1 Aston Villa

With Bamford and Raphinha firing on all cylinders, Leeds need not lament their injury woes too much given their quality in attack. Villa will hope to take advantage of a ravaged Whites midfield, but another game without Grealish could certainly spell trouble for the below-par visitors, so we are backing Bielsa's men to leapfrog their opponents with a hard-fought triumph on Saturday.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data



Video prediction

Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:


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Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder pictured on February 7, 2021
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City32235467234474
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd31189461342763
3Leicester CityLeicester31175955371856
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham31167851391255
5Chelsea31159750311954
6Liverpool31157953371652
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs311471052351749
8Everton30146104138348
9Arsenal31136124335845
10Leeds UnitedLeeds31143144949045
11Aston Villa301351243331044
12Wolverhampton WanderersWolves31108133141-1038
13Crystal Palace31108133352-1938
14Southampton31106153956-1736
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton31712123338-533
16Burnley3189142542-1733
17Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3188153251-1932
18Fulham32511162442-1826
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom3159172859-3124
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd3142251755-3814

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