Aston Villa host Leeds on Friday evening knowing they’ll begin the weekend as Premier League leaders if they can avoid defeat to Marcelo Bielsa’s men.
After securing their top flight status by the skin of their teeth last season, Villa have enjoyed a terrific start to the campaign, taking maximum points from their opening four games.
Leeds haven’t enjoyed quite as prosperous an opening to the season, but the Whites can be satisfied with a return of seven points that seems them sit comfortably in midtable.
Here’s 90min’s preview of the game.
When Is Kick Off? Friday 23 October
What Time Is Kick Off? 20:00 (BST)
Where Is it Being Played? Villa Park
TV Channel/Live Stream? BT Sport Box Office (UK)
Referee? Paul Tierney
Dean Smith will yet again be without injured trio Tom Heaton, Wesley and Kortney Hause as they continue rehabilitation on long-term injuries. However, the Villa boss has confirmed youngster Keinan Davis should be fit for the clash.
The visitors were rocked this week by the news star man Kalvin Phillips faces up to six weeks on the sidelines. The club confirmed the England man won’t require surgery after picking up a shoulder injury in the defeat to Wolves on Monday night, but he won’t be available for selection until at least December.
The midfielder joins Adam Forshaw and Diego Llorente in the treatment room, while Bielsa will be made to sweat over the fitness of club captain Liam Cooper after he hobbled off in the warm-up prior to the clash with Wolves.
Aston Villa: Martinez; Cash, Mings, Konsa, Targett; McGinn, Luiz; Trezeguet, Barkley, Grealish; Watkins.
Leeds United: Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Dallas; Struijk, Klich; Costa, Rodrigo, Harrison; Bamford.
Their 7-2 drumming of champions Liverpool will live long in the memory of Villa fans for many years, though last weekend’s last-gasp win against a solid Leicester side could prove to be just as important as they look to maintain their impressive start to the campaign.
Despite picking up a couple of losses from their opening five league games Leeds can be pleased with their start to life back in the top flight.
Defeats to Liverpool and Wolves are nothing to be ashamed of, and with an impressive away win at Sheffield United along with a draw at home to Manchester City, Bielsa’s men have been entertaining and picked up points along the way.
Here’s how each side has fared in their last five outings.
Leicester 0-1 Aston Villa (18/10)
Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool (4/10)
Aston Villa 0-1 Stoke City (1/10)
Fulham 0-3 Aston Villa (28/9)
Bristol City 0-3 Aston Villa (24/9)
Leeds 0-1 Wolves (19/10)
Leeds 1-1 Manchester City (3/10)
Sheffield United 0-1 Leeds (27/9)
Leeds 4-3 Fulham (19/9)
Leeds 1-1 Hull City (16/9)
While Villa’s summer business looked impressive, no-one expected such a dramatic change in fortunes. Smith’s side have been nothing short of excellent so far, and while Bielsa’s men could never be accused of not being value for money, it’s tough to see them keeping the likes of Ross Barkley and Jack Grealish quiet all game.
Both sides know where the net is but Villa should have enough to overcome the visitors.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 Leeds