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Leeds United vs. Aston Villa preview: Former fan favourite returns as Villain in important fixture

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Will Aston Villa’s trip to Elland Road be an early-season six-pointer? It might, as Villa climbs the table to challenge Leeds United for playoff position.

Queens Park Rangers v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship
Ross McCormack... in better days.
Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Now that the EFL Cup run is over, it’s back to business as usual for Leeds United on Saturday as we welcome Aston Villa to Elland Road for the first time since December 2003. That Boxing Day game was remarkable for the array of talent we had on display and the fact that the Villains were managed by former United favourite David O’Leary. O’Leary had literally turned into a Villain and was booed by sections of the home support who had previously adored him.

The result was nil-nil, and a point was not enough for the Whites that day.

The Leeds United line up vs Aston Villa, December 2003

Robinson, Kelly, Duberry, Kilgallon, Harte, Pennant (Lennon 73), Smith, Batty, Matteo (Bakke 64), Milner, Viduka.

Subs not used: Carson, Sakho, McPhail.

You likely won’t need reminding, but 3 points was a necessity to assist in the relegation battle we went through together that season. 13 years on, three points would assist in a promotion battle we all crave to be involved in, and the returning Panto Villain this time around is former White, Ross McCormack.

McCormack, dubbed “McContract” by the Leeds faithful after his money grabbing contract extensions and re-negotiations, signed a four year contract for Villa in the summer after a £12 million move from Fulham. His transfer from Leeds to Fulham was recently the subject of a Football Association inquiry surrounding bung allegations. (However, even that seems to have been BUNGled by the FA.)

He was on £1.5 million a year at Fulham, a figure Massimo Cellino was never likely to match in wages. I actually liked McCormack at Leeds but he’ll get no slack from me at 5:30pm Saturday.

Villains reform

After a poor start, Aston Villa are improving and have a slight edge over United in form approaching this game. After the cash they have spent, Aston Villa will surely be both promotion contenders and rivals as long as they remain in the Championship. Considering our positions in the table could be much closer come next spring, this is a vital match and a possible 6 pointer.

Dropping down from the Premiership, the Villains moved on 13 players but brought in an astonishing 17. The most notable arrivals, besides McCormack, are Tommy Elphick, Andre Green and Miles Jedinak. Their latest Manager, Steve Bruce, mysteriously departed his previous club Hull City after guiding them back to the Premier League.

He is of course no stranger to Leeds fans and will also receive a welcome as warm as the one that will be afforded to McContract.

Injury concerns

After the Tuesday night clash with Liverpool, United’s Eunan O’Kane picked up a knock but is expected to be fit to face Villa. Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper are both expected to be available as well. Liam Bridcutt and Pablo Hernandez remain sidelined.

Micah Richards and Ritchie De Laet are long term absentees for Villa

Leeds player to watch

Kemar Roofe has had his doubters since joining Leeds in the summer for a rumoured £3million, but after his recent displays, I’m convinced he’ll come good. The 23 year old former League Two Player of the Year is getting better with each appearance, and his display against Liverpool showcased his potential going forward. Still to find the net, he’s getting closer, being only inches away from his first goal for the Whites on Tuesday night.

Villa player to watch

Miles Jedinak is a player I would have liked to have seen wear a white shirt. The experienced Australian international is a battler, and it will be interesting to see how our young midfield fairs against him on Saturday

Head-to-Head

There have been 43 games between the teams at Elland Road, with Leeds United taking all three points on 18 occasions, Aston Villa 10, and 15 drawn.

Form

Leeds’ last five league results show 4 wins and 1 loss.

Villa have suffered only 1 defeat in their last ten league games. Their stats in the last five outings read 3 wins and 2 draws.

WHAT

Leeds United vs. Aston Villa

EFL Championship fixture

WHERE

Elland Road, Leeds

Sky Sports, beIN Sports, LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds, International Listings

WHEN

Saturday, December 3, 2016

09:30am PT / 12:30pm ET / 5:30pm BT

WHO

Leeds United predicted Starting XI

Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Taylor, O’Kane, Phillips, Sacko, Doukara, Roofe, Wood

Aston Villa predicted starting XI

Gollini, Hutton, Chester, Baker, Amavi, Jedinak, Westwood, Grealish, McCormack, Ayew, Kadojia

ODDS

Leeds 8/5

Draw 11/5

Villa 7/4

PREDICTION

We have put on good displays recently against top clubs without anything to show. We need to go one better and achieve a positive result on Saturday evening. Rob Green has made errors on the goal line and our defending outside the box has gifted clubs opportunities. Sort those out and we can take all three points. I’m predicting a 2-1 Leeds win.

How do you rate Kemar Roofe? Should Monk continue with him and should he be starting such an important game? Let us have your opinion by leaving a comment below. MOT