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Match Preview: Leeds United take on promotion rivals Aston Villa at Elland Road

Leeds need a win to climb back towards the playoff spots

Aston Villa v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Match: Leeds United v Aston Villa

Date: 1 December 2017

Time: 19.45 GMT, 2:45 PM EST

Venue: Elland Road

Television: Sky Sports

Radio: BBC Radio Leeds (not available online)

Streaming: WatchESPN.com in the United States, check your local EFL rights holder for more information. We will also post a “How To Watch” post about two hours before the match as well.

All-time Record: Leeds United v Aston Villa 30W 28D 28L

Leeds United host Aston Villa in a match-up of two teams that will be looking to either be meeting at Wembley or holding a banner celebrating going up at the end of the season. Villa are in their second year of Championship football after slipping out of the Premier League two seasons ago will be playing against a team that Villa fans will be hope not represent their future, as Leeds, once a main-stay in the top division of English football, have yet to be promoted back to the to top flight after being relegated over a decade ago.

Aston Villa once again geared up for this season after adding some expensive players before last season in an effort to bounce right back up, although their efforts at returning were less successful than Newcastle United’s return. This summer Aston Villa added 97 year old pensioner John Terry, former Hull City and Sunderland player Ahmed Elhmohamady, Glenn Whelan, and took ex-Leeds United player Robert Snodgrass on loan from West Ham United.

As our friends at 7500 to Holte noted, anything less than promotion this season would be seen as a disappointment for Villa fans, as the club has invested a lot of money in the squad and eventually the parachute payments will start to run out and the club will be staring at a financial blackhole. Dr. Tony Xia, he of the emoji filled tweets, has already said that the club will be limited in January because of Financial Fair Play requirements, but the club will be looking at bringing in a couple of names on loan.

As for Leeds United, the Yorkshire club will be looking to solidify itself as a promotion candidate after flying high for the first part of the season, only to see the club go on a rather dire run of form that caused Leeds to tumble down the standings. Despite a 4-1 spanking at the hands of Wolverhampton, the club have looked like the Leeds of their unbeaten run at the beginning of the season after beating Barnsley FC at Oakwell and beating Garry Monk (the snake) and Middlesbrough at Elland Road last week.

Leeds will be looking at either Caleb Ekuban or Kemar Roofe to once again get the start as Lasogga looks to recover from his “illness.” Let’s hope he’s really injured and not just suffering from Big-Time Charlie flu.

The club attacked in a way that they hadn’t done in weeks against Boro, and the inclusion of Kemar Roofe’s pace and mobility creating havoc for the Boro defenders. Against Barnsley, Ekuban showed the pace and power that made him a top scoring threat in Albania before coming over to England.

Caleb Ekuban might get the nod here, but if Kemar Roofe does instead I won’t be upset. I honestly think that Ekuban would run the Villa defence into the ground, but I think Roofe can pretty much accomplish the same thing. Roofe might be a little better of a finisher than Ekuban, but both of them move around a lot more than PM “Statue” Lasogga.

As for the attacking midfielders/ wingers, while it might be a risk to keep Pablo Hernandez in the starting line-up this many matches in a row, the game is at home and it’s been almost a week since the last game, so he’ll probably be okay to start on the left with Samu Saiz and Gjanni Alioski taking up the other spots. While his social media might be tone-deaf at times, Alioski does seem to love scoring goals and loves to tweet about scoring those goals. Here’s hoping that he’ll be able to celebrate another goal being scored for Leeds tonight. As for Saiz, what else can you say? He’s come from sunny Spain, to take us up again.

Even without the news that O’Kane has a hip problem, I would imagine that Ronaldo Vieira and Kalvin Phillips would be the starting pair against Villa. They seem to click against Boro, and while O’Kane played well against Barnsley, at some point the future of the central midfield at Leeds, Phillips and Vieira, have to start playing together for an extended run of matches to get an understanding between the two.

In defence, Leeds will be looking at having another match in a row where the starting line-up will be the same. Luke Ayling has played every single match for Leeds this season, and with a week’s rest, he looks to be set on as the right fullback. On the left, Gaetano Berardi will again probably get the start as left back. In central defence, look for Liam Cooper and Pontus Jansson to once again pair up. Jansson’s looked like the Jansson of old this past week or so, and it can’t be a coincidence that the partnership has been stable when both Jansson and Cooper are playing their best.

In goal, Felix is back! Felix Wiedwald started against Barnsley and kept a clean sheet, meaning that (hopefully) the Wiedwald of August is back. If Leeds are to play out of the back with the ball on the floor, instead of hoofing it up towards the Statue of Lasogga, Wiedwald, for better or worse, has to be the starter. I’d still like to see Leeds possibly upgrade the position during the January transfer window, but that may or may not happen at this point. Until then, we ride with Felix, and the blood pressure of every Leeds fan will spike the minute a cross heads into the box.

Predicted Score:

Leeds United is looking to solidify their promotion credentials, and a victory against Aston Villa will go a long way towards improving their position in the table and their record against other top teams in the division. Look for Leeds to win 2-1 over Villa in a match that will be close.

Predicted Lineups:

Leeds United: (4-2-3-1) Wiedwald; Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Berardi; Phillips, Vieira; Hernandez, Saiz, Alioski; Ekuban

Aston Villa: (4-4-1-1) Johnstone; Hutton, Samba, Chester, Taylor; Snodgrass, Whelan, Hourihane, Adomah; Grealish; Onomah