Villa will be optimistic they can make it 5 wins out of 5 in a game that has the potential to be a mouth-watering affair. They come up against new boys Leeds United who have been getting all the plaudits since their long-awaited return to the Premier League after a 16-year absence. Villa’s expectations for a result will be heightened after the news that England international Kalvin Phillips will be ruled out for six weeks. There remain doubts whether captain Liam Cooper and Diego Llorente will be fit to play on Friday night. Pascal Struijk has been hinted by Marcelo Bielsa to be Kalvin Phillips’ replacement in the Leeds XI. However, there’s still that certain Bielsa factor about Leeds, that they could conjure up a result even without their best midfielder available.
Villa come off the back of a last gasp Ross Barkley strike to snatch all 3 points from Leicester on Sunday night. They made it four wins from four and are the only club in the first six English divisions to still hold a 100% record. It was a game of few chances unlike their last home game against Liverpool. So far Villa have looked compact at the back, only conceding 2 goals in their first four games, keeping 3 clean sheets in the process. Going forward, the addition of Ross Barkley has really brought a new dimension to the way Villa play. He’s another player who can drive and travel with the ball allowing Jack Grealish to run riot further up the pitch and vice versa, when all of the attention turns to Jack, space opens up for Barkley and when it’s a player of his calibre, it’s not wise to leave him too much space as we found out on Sunday. Ollie Watkins, albeit having a quieter game against Leicester also has improved the way Villa go about their business in the final third, bringing the likes of Grealish and Barkley into the game with his work rate and hold up play up top. Villa will feel they can now go into any game and pick up the three points as they have already demonstrated.
Bielsa’s Leeds have caught the eye with their high intensity-attacking style of play. They have started the season well, picking up 7 points from their first 5 games. They ran Champions Liverpool close in their first game back to the Premier League, an entertaining spectacle that finished 4-3. They picked up their first win in another game full of goals against fellow newly-promoted side Fulham. It appeared Leeds’ matches were going to be like a crazy, end to end, jumpers for goalposts game down the park. However, they picked up a clean sheet away next time out at Sheffield United in a 1-0 win. They followed it up with an impressive 1-1 draw in an exciting clash with Man City at Elland Road. After a good first half against Wolves last weekend, they were beaten 1-0 by a solid Wolves side who soaked up the first half pressure and scored the vital goal in the second half that was enough to win the game. Leeds will undoubtedly miss their star man Phillips, but they still have a good squad of players that know their job. Bamford has done well and silenced critics, popping up with 3 goals already this season. Mateusz Klich looks to be settling nicely in the centre of midfield. Jack Harrison and Helder Costa are dangers on the wing alongside new £30 million forward Rodrigo.
Both Villa and Leeds fans will be desperate to win this one. Both sets of supporters have sparked up what can only be described as an online rivalry recently, it was all stemmed from the controversial game that was played between the two sides when they both last met in the Championship, where Villa were allowed to walk the ball into the net after they deemed Leeds’ opening goal as unfair sportsmanship for not kicking the ball out of play for an injured player. I think we’ll see another entertaining game – no gifted goals and 22 man brawls but I envisage a free-flowing game full of chances and drama. With no injury problems for Leeds, I don’t think too much would separate these two sides and I would’ve probably predicted a 2-2 draw but with the absence of Phillips and possibly Cooper and Llorente combined with the momentum Villa take into this one, I think they will slightly edge it and make it five wins from five to go top of the table for one day at least.
My Score Prediction : Aston Villa 2-1 Leeds United.
Aston Villa predicted XI
Leeds predicted XI