Follow us on Twitter @claretandview // Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH)
Coming off of a week which saw Aston Villa secure 9 points, the Villans will travel to Elland Road to battle with Leeds United.
Leeds currently sit 8th on the table with 29 points from 19 matches. Leeds have only gained maximum points in 2 of their last 5 matches played. Their last match saw a 2-0 decisive win against Barnsley. Macedonian midfielder Ezgjan Alioski secured a Man Of The Match performance with a goal and an assist to his name. Alioski now has five goals this season, and has turned into somewhat of a danger man for Leeds as of late. If he scores against Aston Villa, he will be the first Leeds player to find the net in five consecutive appearances since Ross McCormack hit that mark in 2011.
With Mile Jedinak being the newest member of the Aston Villa infirmary, Leeds United are not without their fair share of injuries. Winger Stuart Dallas will miss the game against Villa with an ankle injury, while Pierre-Michel Lasogga is a kick-off decision with a leg injury picked up in training last week. Midfielder Eunan O’Kane could feature for Leeds, but he is nursing a hip injury and his status is unclear at best.
In form Aston Villa winger Albert Adomah will undoubtedly try to keep his goal scoring flair alive, although he has never netted a goal at Elland Road. The man that Villa supporters have nicknamed “Uncle Albert” now has ten goals to his name in the Championship this year. However, Adomah has scored five goals in his last six matches away from Villa Park. At the moment, Adomah is scoring a goal, on average, once every 140 minutes of football. A great sign for Aston Villa and not so much for the rest of the competition.
Villa goalkeeper Sam Johnstone had some choice words about Leeds during the build-up to this game. Johnstone has been quoted as saying: “Friday is a massive game. Coming off the back of three straight wins, hopefully they are more scared of us. It’s all about confidence. If you are full of confidence it is a different game. We will be up for it, hopefully we can get three points.”
It is promising to see such an unsung hero for Aston Villa speaking out of such things as confidence within the first team. Johnstone now has 8 clean sheets in 17 appearances for Aston Villa this season. All together, Johnstone has played 41 total matches while on loan at Villa this season and last season. Of those 41 total games played, Johnstone has registered 16 clean sheets. Obviously Steve Bruce will do everything in his power to make sure Johnstone becomes the permanent man between the sticks at Aston Villa for a long time to come.
The fact remains that Villa have won 9 of their last 12 games and are making a serious push to be the promotion contender they were always viewed as. A win against Leeds will start to definitively cement that idea, especially with the match being shown on Sky Sports. There was a time that televised matches were not good for the Villans, but Steve Bruce has seemed to tuck that aggravating fact into bed. In no uncertain terms, this is a massive game for both Villa and Leeds. Leeds have been sliding down the table since late September, and if Villa can dispatch them in this game, it would surely plant the seed of doubt into the entirety of Leeds United as far as promotion hopes this season.