The Villa Appetiser: Villa v Leeds 2016
The last time we played Leeds was a big disappointment.
The first of our defeats under Steve Bruce, it was a harsh reminder of the Championship’s competitiveness, and a continuance of our terrible televised run (that has thankfully since been lifted).
This time around Monk has stated that he expects a different game, but this will be definitely be Bruce’s toughest Villa Park test.
Can we keep our unbeaten home record going?
Bacuna on Leeds clash
“We just need to keep going and keep that great home feeling going too. We will be looking to win as many as possible as we can between now and the end of the season.
“We feel confident at home, definitely. The crowd is right behind us and pushing us on.
“It’s good that we have that support. It’s really positive to play at home. We are in good form now and have picked up a good run of results. Let’s keep that going!
“We started the season not so good. We have to keep going and keep developing now.
“If you get a few back to back wins, it’s good because you climb the table and get even closer to that top six.
“It’s Leeds next. We prepare for that. That game at Elland Road against them, we let it slip away.
“We have a good chance to put it right now. Now are going for six wins in a row at home. That would be great, definitely.”
Ross McCormack on Leeds
“It’s always good to come up against your former team – and there’s always a bit of banter from the opposition supporters!
“They are a good team and are in good form so we need to be at our best. We are confident – we’ve won five home games in a row – so we need to take that belief into this latest fixture.
“I am looking forward to it. Leeds is one of the clubs that is really close to my heart. It will be a good game, I’m sure.”
Gary Monk on Villa
“I think Thurday’s game will be totally different game to when we last met Aston Villa at Elland Road.
“We are playing at a fantastic stadium against a very good side with a lot of experience.
“It will be another difficult test for our young group, but one that we are excited about, we want to challenge ourselves.
“Everyone should enjoy what is happening at the moment, our fans have suffered for a number of years.
“Whatever will happen, will happen, but we are going to fight to get this club back to where it belongs.”
leeds have won four of their last five away games
7th Feb 2004 Aston Villa 2 Leeds 0
Goals from Juan Pablo Angel and Ronny Johnsen secured the points the last time Leeds visited Villa Park.
Villa – Last five matches at home: W 5
Leeds – Last five matches away: W 4, L 1
One to Watch
Kemar Roofe – the ex-Oxford United forward scored against Villa when the sides last met, and scored against Preston on Boxing Day.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Ever since Bruce has been at Villa, there’s been reason for optimism for the first time in many seasons for the claret and blue faithful.
Results have been good, and our home run is the best its been in decades. But aside from Fulham, the tests at Villa Park have mainly involved teams from the bottom end of the table.
Of course the cliche of there being no easy games in the Championship remains true, and we’ve done well to record five home wins on the spin for the first time since 1993, but Leeds will represent a much bigger challenge.
Monk seems to have single-handedly disposed of the chaos that has surrounded Leeds United in recent years, and with four wins in their last five away games, Leeds will be confident of damaging Villa Park’s “fortress” tag.
Top scorer Chris Wood could be recalled to the Leeds squad after a substitute appearance in their last match, as well as midfielder Pablo Hernandez, who scored during the Boxing Day fixture.
While Villa struggled to see off Burton Albion, Leeds recorded a 4-1 win away at Preston North End, an impressive result when you consider Villa’s 2-0 loss at Deepdale.
Throwing on attackers might have worked against Burton, but our lack of midfield was exposed on Boxing Day, and we could be punished if we play like we did then against Leeds.
The reverse fixture was less than a month ago and that defeat could be playing on the Villa squad’s minds…
“We are playing at a fantastic stadium against a very good side with a lot of experience” – monk ON VILLA
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
When it comes to games like this, opinion is always divided.
Some fans are confident, while some fear the worst against Leeds, but there are signs that a win isn’t beyond our reach.
The Leeds and Norwich defeat will always be mentioned when it comes to facing play-off rivals, but lets not forget performances against Fulham at home, and Brighton and Reading away.
Even under Di Matteo we recorded a decent 1-1 draw against table-topping Newcastle. His replacement Bruce has shown we can match our competitors, even with our squad’s deficiencies.
Despite facing some of the league’s lower-placed teams, we’ve struggled to keep clean sheets at home, but don’t worry. According to the history books, we’ve kept a clean sheet in three of our last five home league games against Leeds.
Leeds might be confident after their free-scoring win at Preston but let’s not forget that we’ve won three of our last four games.
McCormack, the match-winner against Burton, will be keen to play well against his former club after missing the reverse fixture through injury.
A win would see us round off 2016 nicely, and would be the first time we’ve won three league games since April 2010.
We can do it!
Happy New Year.
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