Mark Lawrenson and Phil Hay are in agreement when it comes to predicting Leeds United’s clash against Aston Villa on Sunday – with both expecting the Whites to build on their 3-0 win over Southampton on Tuesday night with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Elland Road on Saturday evening.
Leeds sit in an excellent position in the Premier League table after 25 league games. Sitting 13 points ahead of 18th-placed Fulham with only 13 games to play, Leeds could probably survive the drop if they fail to pick a single point – but of course, they need five to reach the magical 40-point mark, which will certainly assure safety come May.
Certainly, the view is now looking ahead for the rest of the season and whether Leeds can do the unthinkable and break into Europe qualification. It is unlikely given their inconsistency, but as they welcome back Diego Llorente – the optimism is there. Standing next in their way, is a Villa side that will be lacking captain and talisman Jack Grealish.
The England ace was missing on Sunday when Villa were beaten 2-1 by Leicester City – and he joins Kalvin Phillips in missing the match. Phillips continues to sit out with a calf problem, while club-record addition Rodrigo is also out. Ian Poveda, Gaetano Berardi, Robin Koch and Adam Forshaw will be out of the side for at least the next coming weeks. Hay and Lawrenson have both predicted a 2-0 win for Leeds.
Hay said, on his Athletic podcast: “The important thing against Villa, a bit like Southampton, is not to let them get their noses in front. Southampton should have scored – almost getting a penalty. If they do get ahead, it is a different night. In October, Villa were in the game but then conceded and Leeds put them on the back foot. I think scoreline wise, it will be tighter. Good chance of a home win. I’m going to go for a 2-0 Leeds win.”
While Lawrenson also predicted a 2-0 win in his BBC column, saying: “Leeds were really strong against Southampton, winning without Kalvin Phillips. The only other time that has happened this season came when they beat Aston Villa in October. I am going for the same outcome. Leeds are not the same without him [Phillips] – well, we found out what Villa are like without Jack Grealish when they lost to Leicester at the weekend. They looked ordinary against the Foxes.”