Leeds – Villa; A foregone conclusion

It’s been a very strange season up to now and trying to predict results has proved immensely difficult to say the least.
Victories and losses which should have been fairly straightforward on paper, have often proven to be wrong.

That said, I’m looking at this game with as much conviction as any this season.
And quite simply, I think we’re going to get beaten. Soundly.

Squad news first.
Lets look at the injuries.
Matt Cash is back on grass running. That’s great, as he’s being missed.
Hause is due back on grass in the next week or so.
Wesley might get back to contact training in the next week or two. Does that mean he’s already on the grass?
I’d imagine so. But he hasn’t played in 14 months. I’ll stand by my prediction that he’ll be lucky to get much of a sniff this season.
And the big news is Grealish, who definitely will not be available for this game.
Dean Smith is being a little more coy this week, but he’s also gone on the defensive.
Let’s have a look at what he said in the press conference;

“He’s getting better. He won’t be ready for tomorrow but he’s getting better.

“As I said last week, there’s been an awful lot of speculation where Jack is involved. People speculated how long he’s going to be out for – I’m not sure how they can do that when I don’t know, the doctor doesn’t know and Jack doesn’t know.

“I was very vague last week because it’s a bit of a strange injury. Jack could be back to play against Sheffield United next Wednesday or Wolves next week. We’ll be led by Jack on that.”

Now, this annoys me.
It seems to me there has been a lot of talk amongst the fans that this is not going to be a brief injury and it’s going to last for several games.
Of course, it’s speculation on the fans’ part, but it seems to me that the speculation has been more accurate than Smith up to now.
Note that comment that the doctor doesn’t know.
If the doctor doesn’t know, how on earth could Smith say that Grealish would be back for this game?

My going on about this may seem petty, but I find it massively irritating.
Dean Smith should quite simply have told the truth and said he doesn’t know what the issue is, hence he can’t say.

My money says it is indeed shin splints and Jack could easily be back next week or out for the next six games.
Why not just say that? It avoids the disappointment that many of us are probably feeling about his not being available.
And for what it’s worth, I’d rather see Jack out for a few games if it means he comes back in tip top condition, as opposed to being rushed back and not being up to his best.
I’m sure most would agree with that too, so stop treating us as fools Dean!

As for Leeds, midfielder Mateusz Klich is an injury doubt while Rodrigo and Kalvin Phillips are out. It’s just precautionary with Phillips because of a calf issue. Whatever, it’s good news for us.
Robin Koch is not expected back to training until next week.

Back to the game.
I’m very confident that we’re not going to win this one, but it’s not as though Leeds are some sort of wonder team.
In fact they’re far from it and their form is just like my wallet lately (there’s nowt in it).

A look at the league table is quite a surprise.
Both teams have won six games away and won five at home.
We’ve drawn three games and Leeds have drawn two. Guess which result I definitely won’t be going for?
Even our current form over the last five games is pretty similar, which actually does give me some hope, considering how poor I think we’ve been for a fair few games now.

We also have to consider that Leeds are a point behind us, having played two games more.
That’ll probably change tomorrow, but Leeds are by no means as good as the media have painted them to be.
If we’d listened to them. Leeds would have romped this league.
I have nothing against Leeds but the fact that they’re as average as us pleases me immensely.
Yes, they play nice footy, but the way they’ve been hyped makes me puke, just as much as it does with the “big six”.

Anyway, why do I think we’ll lose?
It’s easy. Leeds worked us to death at home and we just couldn’t live with it.
That performance against us was the best I’ve seen this season.
And when you consider how horrendously poor our midfield has been over the last few games, well, it doesn’t bode well.
Then consider we won’t have Jack to hold the ball, or slow things down, or give us his vision and I can only see things going one way.

I’m saying it with fingers crossed, but I fully expect another 3-0 defeat.

Let’s hope I’m as wrong as I have been for most of this season, eh?



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  1. Avatar
    Holte66 February 26, 2021 at 6:51 pm .

    I predicted 3-0 to Leeds myself. If we concede early it could be a cricket score. The game will be won in midfield which is our weak point. Our football is quite slow and ponderous whilst Leeds are 100 mph from back to front. We don’t have players with the same work rate as them. Against Southampton at 3-0 up they were chasing down their keeper in the 95th minute. How many of our players have pace? That’s something Smith needs to address in the summer.
    I read that Smith was impressed with Barkley’s work rate against Leicester commenting that he would have covered the most distance if he had stayed on the pitch. That’s all very well but even myself in my younger days could run around a lot without contributing!
    We need to pick a team with as much energy as possible. Nakamba, Ramsey and Sanson should all be considered. I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith picks the same team as last week. He rarely makes more than a couple of changes if he can help it.

  2. Avatar
    OLL again February 26, 2021 at 10:12 pm .

    Occasionally the camera pans to Smith during a game which Villa are not winning, he wears the same expression at his post match interviews. If you had to describe it – Baffled – would do.

    He sends largely the same team out, because they have done OK, but if his opposite number demonstrates a “cunning plan” to gain an advantage Smith has no plan B. As for him making a radical tactical or personnel change to suit the opposition’s frailties. That’ll be the day!

    Tomorrow it could be. Bad pitch, Davis up front with Watkins and Traoré. Route one, put yourself about and shoot on sight. Sanson, Nakamba and Luis battling in midfield and tracking back.

    Leeds beaten. Norfolk enchants.

  3. Avatar
    Holte66 February 26, 2021 at 10:50 pm .

    Davis up front with Watkins LW and Trezeguet RW backed up by Ramsey / Sanson with Luiz and Nakamba behind offers more energy and a chance to go direct and make it stick.
    Seems like a plan B which we know Smith doesn’t have. Plan A it is then 😏

  4. Avatar
    Hitchens60 February 27, 2021 at 4:37 pm .

    Barkley and Luiz dropped – Nakamba and Ramsey in – good moves?

  5. Avatar
    Holte66 February 27, 2021 at 4:51 pm .

    Does this mean there isn’t a clause in Barkley’s contract! I hope young Ramsey has a good game. It’s a great opportunity for him. Nakamba deserves a chance too. Traore and El Ghazi will need to put in a monumental shift if we are to be successful.

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