The fear of falling apart is looming large once again as Leeds United are highly unlikely to secure automatic promotion following successive defeats in these conclusive gameweeks. The Whites must now be preparing for the playoffs, but first, they need to concentrate on their Sunday lunchtime fixture against an in-form Aston Villa.
Villa have scripted a massive upsurge under new boss Dean Smith and grabbed a playoff spot shaking off the shambles of early weeks. The fixture at Elland Road would be challenging for Marcelo Bielsa’s men who must deliver a spirited display to turn things around and regain their confidence to stay alive in the promotion chase.
Leeds United Team News vs Aston Villa:
Leeds have a fresh injury blow with Kemar Roofe sidelined for the weekend tie after sustaining a hip injury. The 14-goal forward has joined Ezgjan Alioski and Barry Douglas in the treatment room who have already been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Leeds United Formation vs Aston Villa:
Bielsa, though known for his creativity and innovation while lining up his squad, has banked on a 4-1-4-1 all season and shown no willingness to alter the same in these remaining fixtures.
The Whites have a thin squad with no luxury of rotating the players to keep them fit and fresh for the decisive gameweeks. Yet roping in Kiko Casilla has been a smart move from the veteran Argentine who needed experience between the sticks.
Luke Ayling has been disappointing of late but is likely to keep hold of his place due to the lack of a proper alternative. Pontus Jansson and skipper Liam Cooper should be retained as their central defensive pairing to take on the likes of Jonathan Kodjia, Tammy Abraham and Jack Grealish. An injury to Alioski might see versatile Stuart Dallas being deployed as a left-back in these final outings.
Kalvin Phillips should be brought back in the starting XI replacing Adam Forshaw who was underwhelming against Brentford while bridging it up between the backline and ‘midfield four’.
A few changes should be made in the middle of the park with Jack Clarke starting the game from the right flank allowing Pablo Hernandez to operate centrally alongside Mateusz Klich. Jack Harrison has failed to perform week in week out and must be replaced by Tyler Roberts who has previously shown his composure, flair and influence down the wide areas.
Roofe’s injury has left Bielsa with no choice but to field Patrick Bamford as the ‘number 9’. The centre-forward has bagged a few goals but struggled to fit in Leeds United’s philosophy, and his dismal display against the Bees was subject to criticism on Easter Monday.