Less than one month after a 2-0 Leeds drubbing at Elland Road, Aston Villa seek revenge – this time on home turf. Is this the most important league match so far this season?
Garry Monk’s Leeds United are sitting pretty in fifth place, accumulating 41 points along the way. Aston Villa? tenth place with 34 points. A win at Villa Park is vital for flipping the tables between the claret and blue and the 3-6 teams currently in the promotion playoff zone.
Luckily for Villa, Leeds may be without a trio of key players through injury. Center back Kyle Bartley suffered a concussion against Preston North End, while Eunan O’Kane and Charlie Taylor may not be 100% fit in time for Thursday’s match.
Taylor, in particular, would be a big blow for the whites as the left back may be the most talented player in the Leeds squad. He terrorized the Aston Villa right flank in their 2-0 win earlier this month.
Steve Bruce must assess Gary Gardner’s fitness after coming off injured at halftime on Boxing Day.
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ASTON VILLA PROJECTED XI (4-3-3): Bunn; Hutton, Chester, Baker, Amavi; Jedinak, Westwood, Bacuna; Adomah, McCormack, Grealish.
SUBSTITUTES: Gollini, Elphick, Cissokho, Tshibola, Ayew, Gestede, Kodjia.
The back five for Aston Villa continues its terrific form. A solid match from Alan Hutton is critical for the success of Villa. When he goes, so too often does the team.
Ashley Westwood fills in for Gary Gardner who may no be fit enough to include in the eighteen. Leandro Bacuna is the other central midfielder ahead of Mile Jedinak.
Jonathan Kodjia starts the match from the bench. Ross McCormack takes his place as the number nine with Grealish and Adomah manning the flanks. It is important for McCormack to get into full match sharpness. He will be depended on for the better part of one month during AFCON.
It’s also entirely possible Steve Bruce uses the same lineup he fielded against Burton Albion – sans Gary Gardner.
Kickoff is 2:45PM Eastern Time. The game is live on BeIn Sports for U.S. based viewers.