I don’t really have major dislikes for clubs.
I’m not at all keen on the Blues, of course, but that’s natural and automatically comes with being a Villa fan. It doesn’t mean I’d love to see the club fail to exist though. I’m quite happy with them being constant second best to us, something that never fails to make me smile.
I’m not keen on clubs that win too much either, which mainly means Man Utd, Liverpool and probably Arsenal too. To my mind it’s just that they’ve had way more than their fair share over the years.
And then there’s those clubs that have just spent stupid amounts of money, which would be Chelsea and Man City. It’s a shame as I really have nothing against these clubs at all, but the amount of money spent makes me resent what they have won so much that I actually disregard it entirely.
I’m even ok with Spurs at a push. They have a history of playing decent footy after all.
And then there’s Leeds.
I don’t really have a problem with them either, but the way they’ve become Sky’s favourites for some reason just makes me nearly hate them with a passion. Which is quite odd, given that I have massive respect for Bielsa, after giving us that goal the last time we played them.
The way the commentators fawned over Leeds as they were being beaten by Wolves on Monday made me feel sick, so much that I nearly turned it off. I’m glad I stuck with it though, as reading the reports suggested that Leeds were the better team and deserved to win. My eyes told me they didn’t. At all.
I really don’t understand this love-in (and it’s not just Sky), as they’ve done nothing at all since blowing it so spectacularly under David O’Leary and Peter Ridsdale.
This sort of favouritism just makes me temporarily dislike Leeds, simple.
It seems Gabby Agbonlahor thinks the same too.
Which is fine, except I think he’s going to be a pundit for the game and he’s nailed his colours to the mast and declared Leeds and Bielsa to be a myth. I happen to agree with him, but he’s got a far bigger profile than me and winding the Leeds fans up like that is just asking for trouble to my mind.
Any neutrals will now be wanting Leeds to beat us too.
Hence I wish he’d kept his trap firmly shut.
Watching Leeds on Monday, I couldn’t fail to notice how hard they work. Their strength and stamina is superb and how they last so well is beyond me. Given that I think our fitness is ok, but not the best, it’s an area where I can see us possibly struggling. You would hope that us having had a longer break might help.
It seems it’s not a bad time to be playing Leeds, as they do have injury problems.
Calvin Phillips was ruled out for six weeks with a shoulder injury and that means Pascal Struijk is likely to be moved from the centre of defence into the holding midfield role.
Bielsa would then have to juggle his defence, with Liam Cooper facing a fitness test on his groin knock after he suffered a recurrence of the injury in the warm-up to the Wolves game.
With Diego Llorente also out, the most likely solution to fill in for Struijk at centre-half is that Luke Ayling will move from right-back into the centre to partner Robin Koch, with Stuart Dallas switching from left-back to the opposite flank.
Gjanni Alioski would then step up to cover Dallas at left-back.
Bielsa could look to youth players, with Oliver Casey an option at centre-back, while Leif Davis could be a contender for the left-back position.
At least, that’s what the Daily Express thinks (hat tip).
In other words, Leeds have problems.
As for us, it’s no change and Dean Smith will no doubt pick the same starting eleven.
The only question again is Trezeguet or Traore and you’d expect it’ll be a case of “if it isn’t broken, why fix it?”
So taking Gabby’s and my dislike of Leeds out of the equation, what to think?
I have to say I really hope we stuff Leeds.
It’s nothing personal, but it’s how I feel.
I’m going to be cagey though and not predict anything daft.
Leeds have the energy and drive to maybe beat anyone on their day. But I think you could possibly say that about any team in this league.
I think given Leeds’ injuries and the fact that we’re playing at home (not that it seems to make any difference lately), I’m going to go for the win.
I don’t see many goals though and think it might be by the solitary one.
Winning this would mean 5 out of our first 5 and that makes me wonder how long it was since we last did that?
Which is also the very good reason for me to have a nagging doubt that we won’t do it. Quite perversely after such a good start, the odds are possibly against us.
Fingers crossed though and if we do win we go top.
Now that would be good.