Villa – Leeds; Should be a good game, this

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.



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  1. Avatar
    Holte66 October 24, 2020 at 10:52 am .

    You summed it up Nath. I watched Wolves beat them by sitting deep and counter attacking. We went toe to toe last night and they were better than us. Leeds used the flanks to great effect and we all could see the danger but Smith never reacted. I thought Trezeguet didn’t do his defensive duties very well last night and Grealish offered little support to Taggart. Bielsa had a plan and it worked. Smith was out thought and our players out fought.

    1. Avatar
      nath October 24, 2020 at 11:19 am .

      i have been too harsh really holte, but thats my raw emotions boiling to the surface. but i knew leeds i watched leeds most of their games. so i was not surprised how they dismantled us. but before game i thought we would break them down on the counter.

      turns out our tactics played into their hands not ours, asi thought it might before game. basically how wolves play suits playing leeds. that is the correct tactic to sit deep and deny them room down the sides and behind and then hit them on the sucker counters.

      we try to play leeds too narrow and too high , we tried to press them, but our press compared to theirs like night and day. they were too clever and to fit to try to press high and all game. i thought they would tire again i was wrong we tired. so like you eluded too. wise after the event wolves nullified them cause they naturally sit deeper and by playing deeper they protected their width better. we got stretched left to right and back to front. our front line was to thin and stretched too long easy for them to break through once they broke our spirit and our fitness.

      you summed it up good too

      once i stop sucking i will reflect more clearer. i am dreading monday i dished our loads of shit lately and i reckon i will get it back in buckets

      1. Avatar
        nath October 24, 2020 at 11:22 am .

        not sucking my thumb but sulking

  2. Avatar
    Holte66 October 24, 2020 at 10:55 am .

    Oops, I meant Targett! Taggart is probably a better defender. 🙄

  3. Avatar
    VillaAwayInDiv3 October 24, 2020 at 11:09 am .

    I was shouting VERY EARLY – “why are you constantly playing long balls up to lone Ollie”…could see the writing on the wall .
    I have never seen a team like Leeds that can attack – contest midfield or defend so well at top speed and in numbers..
    Bamford was in the middle of the game of his life but his nasty side still took over and he nearly lost his head …literally…I thought Mings would be sent off.
    The management need to play this match back every day before training to show them all that 90% effort will never be accepted and they all have a long way to go…..
    Southampton next…oh s***.

    1. Avatar
      nath October 24, 2020 at 11:31 am .

      yeah i am also dreading soton next too. they ply so similar high press and high numbers on quick counters. only difference is leeds i think are fitter and keep up this intensity for longer.

      if we have any doubts about lasting when pressing long time and high. we should consider dropping deeper against countering teams. also against leeds they beat our press with ease. you generally press areas of the pitch. but leeds set traps on our press. they would invite us to press and then switch the ball to create a two on one, on the opposite side of pitch, totally evading our press.

      soton will be like that saying after you fall off your horse. get right back on. but should we consider our tactics without the ball. pressing high against a clever team who constantly beat this press actually helps the opposition. the first goal was down to us sending too many forwards and leeds had too many players barring down on our goals than we had defenders back.

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