Garry Monk’s recently-impressive Leeds United host former top-flight side Aston Villa at Elland Road on Saturday evening and the battle between the onetime English football giants is one that is keenly anticipated.
Leeds have lost only 2 of 8 of their last league games, and their late form has seen them move to 5th on the table – the last spot of the play-off zone. There is huge belief in Monk’s camp that a return to the Premier League is possible since 2004.
A win over Aston Villa who are also seeking to make a comeback to the top flight after last season’s relegation woes will go a long way in boosting the squad’s morale just days after almost edging Liverpool out of the EFL Cup.
The former Swansea manager has a lot of talented youngsters and experienced players within his ranks, and here is a predicted XI of how he could decide to line up his charges.
Formation : 4-2-3-1
GK – Robert Green
The 36-year-old English veteran goalie has been a constant figure in goal for Leeds all through the season, making all 18 Championship appearances.
LB – Charlie Taylor
The full-back has also played every minute of The Peacocks’ league campaign and will hope to put in another impressive showing at the back again.
The 23-year-old has 3 assists thus far.
CB – Pontus Jansson
The Swedish centre-back has been in excellent form for Leeds and has also weighed in a goal.
Should be back in action to make his 13th Championship appearance of the season after missing out of the Rotherham victory through suspension.
CB – Kyle Bartley
No Leeds defender has had a hand in more goals than the English centre-half this season (2 goals, 1 assist).
He has also been very solid at the back, playing every 18 games thus far and remained disciplined enough only to have been booked just twice.
RB – Luke Ayling
The former Bristol defender has become Monk’s first choice for the role ever since making a summer switch and has an assist to his name.
CM – Eunan O’Kane
The Irish defensive midfielder known for his excellent passing abilities and dribbles has remained brilliant at the heart of the Whites’ midfield and is expected to continue that form against Villa.
CM – Kalvin Phillips
The English youngster is responsible for shielding the defence and hasn’t had a hard time doing that.
A part of the club’s academy success story, Kalvin has been solid in his role and won’t be short of suitors in January.
AML – Kemar Roofe
The versatile English youngster has played every position in midfield thus far and has only failed to make an appearance once.
Would likely play on the left against Villa.
AMC – Pablo Hernández
The Spaniard has 2 goals and 2 assists in 12 appearances, and his EPL experience at Swansea under Monk is proving useful at the 2nd division.
He is set to face a familiar foe on Saturday evening.
AMR – Hadi Sacko
The 22-year-old Mali international has played in every of Leeds Championship game this season, weighing in a goal and 3 assists.
CF – Wood
Only 3 players have scored more goals than the former Leicester City striker, and the 24-year-old will be more than eager to add to his 9 strikes when Steve Bruce’s side comes visiting.