Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Premier League clash between Leeds United and Aston Villa, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The Whites went down 1-0 to Leicester City at the weekend, while Steven Gerrard‘s men hit Southampton for four without reply.
There was never going to be a quick fix for Leeds following Marcelo Bielsa‘s departure from the club, but Marsch’s side gave it their all at the home of the faltering Foxes and only lost via a Harvey Barnes goal in the 67th minute of the contest.
The new manager bounce cannot come quickly enough for the Whites, who have now lost their last five in the Premier League after such an impressive start to life in the top flight last term, and the threat of a relegation dogfight is looming.
Leeds remain above the drop zone in 16th for the time being but are only two points clear of 18th-placed Burnley having played a game more, so Marsch’s side desperately need to find some inspiration from somewhere to keep their stint in the top flight going a little while longer.
The return of Patrick Bamford will certainly be welcomed by a Leeds side who have also failed to score in four of their last five Premier League matches while conceding a whopping 18, and not since November have the Whites kept a clean sheet in any competition.
Marsch prepares for his first Elland Road encounter with Leeds only posting one win from their last six at home in the competition – losing each of their last three – and Villa are anything but profligate on their day.
Footballing fans reacted with nothing but surprise when Danny Ings‘s transfer from Southampton to Aston Villa was announced – all parties involved managed to keep the deal very quiet indeed – and the striker showed his former club what they were missing at Villa Park.
Ings ended the day with a goal and two assists to his name as Gerrard’s side marched to an emphatic 4-0 win to end Southampton’s impressive unbeaten streak, with Ollie Watkins, Philippe Coutinho and Douglas Luiz also on target for the ruthless Lions.
Instilling consistency have been a struggle for Gerrard since he swapped Ibrox for Villa Park, but two consecutive wins and clean sheets has reignited the Lions’ push for a top-half finish as they occupy 11th spot in the table – two points off ninth-placed Southampton with a game in hand.
Villa are still waiting to string together three consecutive wins this season and tend to blow hot and cold away from home – making a habit of winning one then losing one on rival ground – and it is nearly a year since the visitors last drew a Premier League game on the road.
Only a month has passed since Villa and Leeds played out that 3-3 thriller in the West Midlands, and the visitors have only managed to win one of their last five versus the Whites, although that did come at Elland Road 1-0 last season.
Leeds United Premier League form:
Aston Villa Premier League form:
While Patrick Bamford was able to take his place on the bench against Leicester, Tyler Roberts‘s season is over after he underwent surgery on a ruptured hamstring tendon sustained at the weekend.
Marsch was able to take the positives from the Leicester defeat and may therefore see no reason to alter his formula here, although Bamford could displace Daniel James at the tip of the attack.
Leeds United possible starting lineup:
Meslier; Dallas, Ayling, Struijk, Firpo; Koch, Klich; Raphinha, Rodrigo, Harrison; Bamford
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Cash, Chambers, Mings, Young; Ramsey, Luiz, McGinn; Coutinho; Watkins, Ings
We say: Leeds United 1-2 Aston Villa
Leeds already look more assured defensively under Marsch and will possess a greater goal threat with Bamford back and raring to go, which spells optimism for the American coach ahead of his first home game.
However, Villa produced a near-perfect performance against a previously in-form Southampton side and will be in no mood to halt their hot streak, so we still expect Gerrard’s men to get over the line.