Aston Villa’s pursuit of their first top-half Premier League finish since 2010/11 continues on Friday at Villa Park against relegation-battling Leeds United.
League Two outfit Stevenage pulled off an unlikely late comeback to beat Unai Emery’s side 2-1 in Sunday’s FA Cup fixture, leaving the hosts embarrassed ahead of this encounter.
A Premier League return may offer a different narrative, with Villa going unbeaten in four of their five league outings under the Spaniard (W3, D1), including a 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers last time out.
With tenth-placed Chelsea only three points away, the Lions can dream of claiming a long-awaited top-half finish in England’s top-flight despite lamenting an underwhelming 33% win ratio this season (W6, D4, L8).
Visiting Leeds are in a more precarious position after failing to win any of their last four league matches (D2, L2), including an action-packed 2-2 home stalemate against West Ham United last week.
Jesse Marsch’s men languish only two points clear of 18th-placed Everton, with thoughts of another season-long fight against relegation concerning the Elland Road hierarchy.
Even though the Whites failed to beat second-tier Cardiff City in Sunday’s FA Cup assignment, bouncing back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to secure a 2-2 draw and a tie replay could benefit their mental state.
Villa’s ‘Friday jinx’ has seen them lose six of their last nine Premier League games on this day (W2, D1), which hardly bodes well for their bid to maintain their four-game unbeaten H2H league run against Leeds.
The Lions have alternated between winning and drawing across those four encounters, though they could only manage a 0-0 draw in this corresponding fixture last season.
However, Villa’s scoring exploits have drastically improved upon Emery’s appointment, as witnessed by their average of 1.9 goals per Premier League match, compared to 0.6 in the opening 11 outings under Steven Gerrard.
With pressure mounting on Marsch after Leeds conceded 2+ goals in four of their last five competitive contests, Friday’s trip to Birmingham could be just what the doctor ordered.
Villa Park has recently been a happy hunting ground for the Whites as they’ve been unbeaten in five of their last six away league meetings with Villa (W3, D2), including a 3-0 win in the last Friday H2H held here.
Against this backdrop, Leeds’ form woes outside Elland Road have seen them pick up just one victory across their eight Premier League travels in 2022/23 (D2, L5), outscoring Liverpool 2-1 in October.
Aston Villa vs Leeds United Potential Line-ups
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Emiliano Martinez; Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Lucas Digne; Douglas Luiz, Boubacar Kamara, John McGinn; Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey, Ollie Watkins.
Leeds United (4-2-3-1): Illan Meslier; Luke Ayling, Liam Cooper, Robin Koch, Pascal Struijk; Tyler Adams, Marc Roca; Crysencio Summerville, Brenden Aaronson, Wilfried Gnonto; Rodrigo.
How to Watch?
Aston Villa vs Leeds United, alongside all other fixtures in England’s top flight, is available to watch online via live Premier League streams.
Aston Villa vs Leeds United Preview
Both sides have blown hot and cold this season, so we find it difficult to give anyone the upper hand, though Villa’s recent showings under Emery may tip the scales in their favour.
A pair of two-goal margin wins over Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur during Emery’s early tenure have shown the Lions can be formidable opponents on their day.
With that in mind, we give the hosts a slim advantage.
Aston Villa 2-1 Leeds United
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