We look at Saturday's clash with Aston Villa.
Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United side host Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday evening (5:30pm).
Dean Smith’s side come to Elland Road in eighth position in the Premier League table, two places and one point ahead of the Whites, having played two games less.
Leeds will be looking to do the double over Villa, after comfortably dispatching them 3-0 at Villa Park in October - a match in which top-scorer Patrick Bamford scored an excellent hat-trick.
The teams haven’t met in a Premier League clash at Elland Road since 2003, which ended in a 0-0 draw. There have been plenty of recent fixtures between the two sides though and another hard-fought exciting encounter is expected this time round.
Villa’s away form this season has been impressive. They’ve won six out of their 12 matches, drawing two and losing the other four. Most notably, a major factor in that form has been that they’ve only conceded 10 goals in those games on the road.
A reason for the defensive strengths of Smith’s side is the quality of summer signing, Emliano Martinez. The goalkeeper arrived from Arsenal and has kept 12 Premier League clean sheets so far this term.
At the opposite end, Illan Meslier has also shown his abilities, with the 20-year-old sitting on eight clean sheets up to now - breaking Joe Hart’s 14 year-old record (seven) for the most clean sheets kept in a season prior to his 21st birthday.
In the attacking departments for both teams, we will see another match-up between two England hopefuls. Bamford is now on 13-goals for the campaign after his strike against Southampton, whereas opposition forward Ollie Watkins is on 10 so far, in his debut Premier League season.
In the creative department of the visitors, Jack Grealish will be a big miss. He has 10 assists to his name in what has been an impressive season both individually and for his side up to now. Bamford, Raphinha and Mateusz Klich all top the assist charts for the Whites, with five each.
In a closely contested middle order, a win would take Leeds above Villa and Tottenham, into eighth place. Villa will be looking to close the gap on Everton and Liverpool above them with a victory, also having games in hand on those two teams.
Leeds: Marcelo Bielsa
Aston Villa: Dean Smith
Aston Villa: 8th
Premier League form
Aston Villa: WLWDL
Premier League top scorer
Leeds: Patrick Bamford (13)
Aston Villa: Ollie Watkins (10)
Head to head
Aston Villa: 39
Last time at Elland Road
Sunday 28th April, 2019
Leeds United 1 (Klich 72’)
Aston Villa 1 (Adomah 77’)
Kalvin Phillips, Rodrigo, Robin Koch and Ian Poveda will all still be missing on Saturday, as they all continued their return to fitness following injuries. Mateusz Klich is still being assessed, with head coach Marcelo Bielsa hopeful that the midfielder can be involved.
Dean Smith has confirmed that Jack Grealish will still be missing when his side arrive at Elland Road. Villa’s captain was out the squad last weekend with a leg injury and hasn’t recovered in time for this weekend. Other injuries include Matty Cash, Kortney Hause and long-term absentee, Wesley.
Referee - Peter Bankes
Assistant Referee 1 - Neil Davies
Assistant Referee 2 - James Mainwaring
Fourth Official - Craig Pawson
Video Assistant Referee - Darren England
The key battle
Raphinha vs Matt Targett
Brazilian winger Raphinha has been lighting up the Premier League this season. His skills, assists and goals have been a joy to watch thus far, and the attacker will now be looking to bring that form into the game on Saturday.
Up against him will be Matt Target, for Aston Villa. The full-back has been impressive since arriving from Southampton for Dean Smith’s side. He is part of a defence used to keeping clean sheets and also offers plenty of attacking threat too, down the left-wing. An interesting battle awaits.
Aston Villa: 21/10
How to watch
The game will be broadcast on Sky Sports, with live commentary on LUTV.