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Leeds looking for strong end to season
Leeds United have enjoyed an impressive return to the Premier League, winning admirers for their adventurous style and willingness to attack at any cost. But Leeds have also achieved more than respectable results and are on course for a top-half finish, sitting 10 after 25 matches.
From the moment they lost 4-3 at champions Liverpool on the opening day, it was clear Leeds would be an entertaining addition to the top flight. Consistency has been lacking but the 5-2 win over Newcastle, and 5-0 thrashing of West Brom, underlines Leeds' ability to cut teams open. They defeated Southampton 3-0 on Tuesday night with the excellent
Raphinha completing the scoring with a superb free-kick.
Villa must cope without Grealish
Aston Villa have been one of the most improved teams in the competition this season with
Dean Smith taking them from survival on the final day of the last campaign to an outside shot for a Europa League place. The 7-2 drubbing of Liverpool was the highlight but Villa have shown it was no one-off with a series of impressive results in the league.
Jack Grealish has been integral to their success but the England midfielder is set to miss this game after suffering a leg injury which ruled him out of the 2-1 home defeat to Leicester on Sunday. Striker
Ollie Watkins has scored 10 league goals in his first season in the Premier League but Grealish's absence will hurt Villa's prospects and they need their playmaker back quickly.
Leeds are >2.3611/8
favourites for this weekend's game and this looks a fair price.
Leeds eased to a 3-0 win at Aston Villa back in October. It was a dominant performance by Leeds and Bielsa's side have the firepower to complete the double.
Villa are >3.211/5 to win at Elland Road but there is a feeling the visitors could be vulnerable. Villa have only won one of their last four matches and the team are undoubtedly weakened without the creativity of Grealish. Calling them a one man team is unfair but the captain makes a huge difference to their side.
The draw is available at >3.7511/4 but this has not been a frequent outcome for these two teams. Leeds have only
drawn twice this season while their opponents have been held three times. On balance, Leeds look worthy favourites and Bielsa's side are fancied to leapfrog Villa with a victory.
Patrick Bamford has been a revelation for Leeds this season and the striker can enhance his England claims with another goal this weekend.
Bamford scored all three goals in Leeds' win at Villa Park and has a superb record against them. The striker has netted five goals in his three starts against the Villains.
Bamford has been a huge success and notched his
13th league goal of the campaign in their last win over Southampton. No English player has scored more Premier League goals this season with Bamford netting as many as Harry Kane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The Leeds striker will be relishing facing Villa again and looks worth backing at 11/10 to continue his scoring streak.
Aston Villa have won just two of their last 17 away league games against Leeds, with those victories coming in January and December 2000.
Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster