Leeds – Villa; How do we approach this one?

Everyone’s thinking about this one already and I’m the same, so before you all pre-empt what I am or am not thinking, I guess I’d better get a post out there.

The big and obvious question is do we rest players, knowing we’re guaranteed fifth place in the play-offs?

My opinion is quite simply, no, we don’t.
The view I’ve always held is that you should always do your utmost to win any game. I think that many of us forget that the aim of football is to score more goals than the opponent.

Of course, that’s far too simplistic and sometimes, logically, it’s worth sacrificing one game with the aim of winning another.
I struggle to think like that.
Where did it get us when we seemingly sacrificed a European game, for us to only fail to get a result against Stoke, under MON, for example?

No, I just don’t see what we’d achieve.
But that’s not to say that players shouldn’t be rested if they genuinely need it.
John McGinn springs to mind here. He’s run his guts out all season and you have to wonder how much even a player with his energy has in the tank.
No doubt we’ll find out, as the medical team and the sports scientists who monitor this sort of thing will surely know.
Resting Grealish might also be a good shout, because if I was being cynical, I might think Leeds would want to take him out, just in case we meet them in the final.

But otherwise, we should play our strongest team, with the aim of beating Leeds and keeping us in with a shout of overtaking the Albion.

It’s all academic though, as Dean Smith is very much his own man and the Villa fan in him will want us to beat Leeds.
If we could beat them, how much of a kick in the teeth would it be for them?
But he’ll have to temper things with trying to achieve promotion, which is his ultimate aim.

The one thing that worries me about our current position is the ten out of ten wins.
We’re now counting down the games until we lose one, as no record-breaking run can continue forever.

So, just maybe, this is one we can afford to lose, while it doesn’t really matter?

On second thoughts, I think I’d rather win this and lose to Norwich, where it won’t affect anything.

I’ll post my thoughts on how I think we’ll actually get on tomorrow.


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  1. Big Fat Ron
    Big Fat Ron April 26, 2019 at 10:47 pm . Reply

    It is a tricky one. A few thoughts:

    The winning run doesn’t necessarily have to end with a defeat. We’re actually 11 unbeaten, so a draw wouldn’t be a bad result, although, of course, we’d play to win. We shouldn’t be thinking ‘how long before we lose’. Many teams have gone way longer than 11 unbeaten…

    With regards to Leeds, it all depends what Sheffield do tomorrow. If 2nd is officially gone for them, they will be down psychologically. But if there’s still a sniff of second, they’ll be up for it, while we will be more relaxed psychologically, which could spell defeat.

    I don’t think resting Jack n John in the same match is the best idea, but also agree that they might get booted around Elland Road like Grealish in a play off final…

    Finally, we all thought Norwich would be over the line by now, but looks like they’ll have to fight for the title when we play them.

    So, all in all, there’s a danger we could lose the last two, if the players allow themselves to relax psychologically. I hope we can keep the run going until the end, if not winning, at least unbeaten.


  2. nath
    nath April 27, 2019 at 6:56 am . Reply

    leeds utd game finally. waited ages for the rematch from that 3 2 capitulation at vp. leeds have been very good this season and again they falter towards the end. i liked to address i dont think they run out of juice, like i said earlier they would. i just think they have been playing above themselves all season. but now the season is ending they are playing with some fear.

    i been reading some leeds fans saying stop grealish. that we are a one man team. well thats bollocks, under smith grealish has been just as good or better. but he doesn’t drop so deep as in the past. villa function as a team with or without grealish now. in the past grealish had to drop deep to get the ball and start moves. but under smith we have defenders who can pick up the ball and start moves. full backs both push up and get involved when we have the ball. we have many other dangers than just grealish. every team this season has tried to stop grealish to stop us. so its a game plan that starting to suit us well.

    i hope smith doesn’t rest players, in my opinions villa should rest when we are dead. finishing line is almost there, its suicide to surrender this form and try to pick it back up when the playoffs start. its far easier to continue this form. leeds are wounded animal they will be not resting. they need to find form quickly and villa need to stop them. because in the long run we will be playing them at wembley with premiership place at stake. leeds are 2 defeats on the bounce make that three and keep um down.

    finally i called it early sheff utd would go up and its a shame for leeds who really do belong with us in premiership. but thats aside we have to beat them to secure our promotion. tomorrow is a warm up, but it still has some barrings on what might happen in the final of playoffs

    leeds 1 villa 3

  3. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 April 27, 2019 at 7:17 am . Reply

    The general consensus is we play the team we would normally put out or would put out if we still needed to secure our play off spot – I agree and so does Dean Smith if his prematch press conference is anything to go by – plus, as he points out, the EFL have rules about feilding weakened teams.

    As to the match itself, if the Blades beat Ipswich can Bielsa raise the team’s spirit knowing they have to, again, compete in the playoffs? They are also without Roofe and Alioski which will weaken their attack substantially. Not going to start making predictions but as BFR points out, we may not continue winning but we can continue our unbeaten run.

    As I said in a post when this run started, if we are truly a premier club in waiting then we have to go unbeaten to the end of the season.

    A final word – I’m not convinced Leeds will get to Wembley!


  4. Holte66
    Holte66 April 27, 2019 at 9:59 am . Reply

    The argument whether to play a full strength side for remaining 2 games is always going to end up with “hindsight is a wonderful thing”
    Like Badger said under O’Neill I remember him playing a B team for a European game which went belly up. At the time I thought the pressure had intensified on getting a result next game because there were no excuses for fitness levels.
    If Sheffield United win and push Leeds into playoffs then they will have to refocus and maybe cynical tactics might come into play. Such as take out the likes of Grealish and McGinn or goad them into bookings or red cards. Elland Road is an intimidating atmosphere and will create reactions.
    I still think we should go full strength purely based on O’Neills tactics failing and fingers crossed we can at least get a point. I’m sure Smith will use substitutions wisely if needed.
    At the end of the day I am delighted we have an opportunity that a couple of months ago looked almost impossible.

  5. Pat 57
    Pat 57 April 27, 2019 at 3:01 pm . Reply

    I think that Smith has some difficult decisions to make. If we win both games we don’t gain anything (apart from the second game being at home if we go past the Baggies) but if we get players injured then this could be crucial for our promotion chances.

    I’d be looking to try and give some playing time to players who might need to come on as subs or if we get any players injured in the play off games. I’d also try and at least limit the time that Jack and McGinn get on the field. A half each at most perhaps but, if it was down to me, I’d leave them both out.

  6. Pat 57
    Pat 57 April 27, 2019 at 3:20 pm . Reply

    If Sheffield Utd beat Ipswich then Leeds chances of automatic promotion are gone.

    Any chance that they might start kicking anything that moves out of sheer frustration tomorrow? Makes me even more cautious about including Jack, McGinn and even Hourihane in the line up.

    If Smith rests a lot of players then I think I’d be okay with that.

  7. nath
    nath April 27, 2019 at 6:05 pm . Reply

    scott hogan scored the goal that might secure premiership. so if smith doesn’t want hogan. sheff utd will be able to afford him, now they are about 150 million richer

    1. Pat 57
      Pat 57 April 27, 2019 at 6:19 pm . Reply

      It was a good goal too. Perhaps Smith is letting Wilder develop him in case Tammy goes next season. Either way we should get our money back.

      1. nath
        nath April 27, 2019 at 7:12 pm . Reply

        it was a typical hogan goal, but he is very hard player to supply. if villa go up i doubt we will want him. but sheff utd will as their forwards are ageing. he did a brilliant air shot too second half lol should have added more before being subbed for sharpe

  8. nath
    nath April 27, 2019 at 9:27 pm . Reply

    norwich won promotion and credit blackburn they contributed to a good game. norwich are very attacking they will light up the premiership along with us and sheff utd lol

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