The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Leeds 2018
Typical Villa eh?
We lose away to Norwich, then win the more difficult game (at least on paper) against Cardiff.
Now, just two days later, it’s on to Leeds, who were at one point earlier in the season, top of the Championship (yes, there was life before Wolves).
Things have changed since then, and former Barnsley boss Heckingbottom has not been able to kickstart a play-off challenge for Friday’s opponents.
While the word out of the club is of still sneaking into automatic promotion, any realists know, we’re just waiting for the play-offs now. Can we follow up our Cardiff victory with another three points at Villa Park to get us in the mood for them?
4th in the league table with the 3rd best home record.
Last five matches at home: W 3, D 1, L 1
14th in league table with 13th best away record.
Last five matches away: D 2, L 3
Steve Bruce on Prince William
“He’s become a pal. And he’s brought us a bit of luck.
“How great is it that he’s really into Aston Villa? We’re honoured of course.
“For the future king to be an Aston Villa fan is fantastic. John Carew must have been one of his favourites because he invited him to the game.
“He did the team talk, picked the team – and it’s worked wonders. To be fair to him, he knows his stuff. He came in just before the team sheets went in, it was good to see him.
“We will certainly be giving him a ticket next week.”
and on Villa form
“We were disappointed at Norwich. And we needed a response.
“We knew what to expect mentally and physically from a tough Cardiff team.
“It sets us up nicely for Leeds. Can we now go and take advantage?
“The games are coming thick and fast.
“It’s going to be very difficult now to pip Cardiff and/or Fulham.
“But we have to try. We know how difficult it is, we’ve just had a bad run ourselves.
“We played a Norwich team who had nothing to play for and couldn’t match their levels. It can happen.
“We’ve applied a bit of pressure but have to win our own games now. Let’s get to the points total that we’ve set ourselves.”
and on Leeds
“Anyone coming to Villa Park for a night game live on television is going to be up for it.
“They’ll have a big following here and they’re a big club with big history and tradition.
“We can expect a tough game.”
Leeds Manager Paul Heckingbottom on Friday’s game
“As it stands we won’t have any more players back for Friday, which is frustrating.
“We want to put a team out which can give the fans what they want, a performance with determination and aggression on the pitch.
“At the minute we have what we have and we will keep working and push the players to stand up, be brave and be as good as they can be.”
“I’m ready for playing garbage at Villa and winning 1-0”
24th January 2001 – Aston Villa 1 Leeds 2
An early strike from Paul Merson wasn’t enough to secure the points in this Premier League encounter.
A goal from Lee Bowyer and a penalty from Ian Harte got the win for the visitors.
One to Watch
Kemar Roofe – The former West Brom man scored against Villa last season and also netted in Leeds’ 3-1 defeat on Tuesday.
Villa HAVE WON 12 of the last 17 home games
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
In a strange way, this match looks a more difficult ask for Villa than Tuesday’s game.
There’s something about the big games that seems to suit Villa somehow and as seen in the QPR and Bolton games, we can slip up to teams lower in the table.
Despite their play-off aspirations, Leeds are 14th right now, eager to record any kind of victory, as alluded to in Heckingbottom’s press conference.
They do have a good record against Villa in recent years, though, and they’re undefeated in 9 of their last 10 matches against us (in all competitions).
It was a good performance on Tuesday given our makeshift lineup, but unfortunately our injury problems continue. We’ll be without Tuanzebe and Hutton, and will likely miss Terry in our second game this week.
We’ve played Leeds three times since our relegation to the Championship, and we haven’t won any of those encounters…
“”I’m ready for playing garbage at Villa and winning 1-0″” – HECKINGBOTTOM ON VILLA GAME
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
It’s not going well for Leeds.
It looked, at least from the outside, a little harsh when the club sacked Thomas Christiansen. They were tenth then, and have since dropped lower down the table.
They endured yet another loss on Tuesday away at Preston despite taking an early lead, and since Christmas, Leeds have taken just three points from 27 available on their travels.
The visitor’s injury situation is pretty bad, worse than ours ever got. They’ll be without their captain Berardi, Pennington, Cooper, Ayling and Shaughnessy, with several other key players looking doubtful.
Despite our failings away from home, we have managed to maintain that imposing home form, and only Cardiff and Wolves have recorded more home points than us.
We’ve also got a decent record against teams in the bottom half of the table, winning eight of 11 matches. As well as that, we’ve already won against Heckingbottom twice this season, with the two wins coming against his Barnsley side earlier in the season.
At the time of writing, we’re just five points away from 2nd place, so we need to keep on picking up points while automatic promotion is mathematically attainable (just for the hell of it!).
If we continue where we left off on Tuesday, there’s no reason why we can’t pick up another three points on Friday evening.