Aston Villa v Leeds Utd Match Thread - Struijk starts in defensive midfield
21 Oct 2020 07:55 am, by Ellandback1
Friday 23rd October 8.00pm | Villa Park | Live on BT Box Office
Leeds travel to a rejuvenated Villa Park on Friday evening, still licking their wounds following narrow defeat at the hands of fellow West Midland outfit Wolves. Perhaps the first thing to say about tonight’s game isn’t related to footballing matters but to the broadcast arrangements. This is Leeds United’s first game to be shown on pay-per-view and fans have taken a stand against the charges. Over 2,000 fans have shunned pay-per-view and instead donated their £15 to Leeds Fans Foodbank, with the charity raising more than £40,000 since Monday.
On the pitch Leeds will be without their talisman midfielder Kalvin Phillips. The England international injured his shoulder on Monday, and will not be available until late November. Skipper Liam Cooper is expected not to be risked following pulling out of Mondays game during the warm up and fellow centre back Diego Llorente is expected to be out for a further fortnight following a minor groin strain he picked up on international duty. Marcelo Bielsa has indicated Pascal Struik will be the man to replace Kalvin Phillips in defensive midfield meaning a shuffling of the defensive line.
Luke Ayling is expected to partner Robin Koch at centre back leaving the possibility of Stuart Dallas switching to right back with Gjanni Alioski or Leif Davis coming in at left back.
Villa are the only team in the Premiership still with a 100% record, and will go top if Dean Smith’s men can beat Leeds on Friday night. Ross Barkley is likely to recover from a knock to his knee ahead of Friday's game. Forward Keinan Davies could return from a calf injury having returned to training last week. Kortney Hause is also regaining his fitness following a groin injury. In form Ollie Watkins has recovered from an ankle knock abnd is expected to play.
The last time the two sides met was during the 2018-2019 season run-in when Mateusz Klich scored a contentious goal as Jonathan Kodjia was down injured. The resulting fracas led to Villa's Anwar El Ghazi being shown a straight red-card with Conor Hourihane and United's Patrick Bamford also booked. Marcelo Bielsa would then go on to instruct Leeds to allow Villa to score directly from the restart, a decision not popular with fans and Pontus Jansson alike.
Dean Smith's side can equal the club Premier League record of five consecutive victories, set in 1996 and matched in 1998. Villa's current eight-match unbeaten streak is their longest in the Premier League since a run of 10 games ended in October 2011. Leeds are attempting to win consecutive Premier League away matches for the first time in 18 years. They can also keep back-to-back Premier League away clean sheets for the first time since April 2002.
Leeds Starting XI
Meslier, Dallas, Ayling, Koch, Alioski, Struijk, Costa, Klich, Rodrigo, Harrison, Bamford
Subs: Poveda, Roberts, Casilla, Raphinha, Hernandez, Davis, Shackleton