Leeds can go back to the top of the Championship on Sunday if they overcome Aston Villa away from home.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side have won all of their last five Championship outings but find themselves heading to Villa Park looking up at Norwich, who defeated Blackburn thanks to a late Teemu Pukki strike on Saturday.
In Birmingham, they will find themselves up against a Villa side who are seven undefeated and with a habit of being involved in exciting, high-scoring games.
|Game||Aston Villa vs Leeds|
|Date||Sunday, December 23|
|Time||1:30pm GMT / 8:30am ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be streamed via ESPN+.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
In the UK, the game will be shown on Sky Sports Football and Main Event and can be streamed through the Sky Go app.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Sky Sports Football / Sky Sports Main Event||Sky Go|
Squads & Team News
|Position||Aston Villa players|
|Goalkeepers||Nyland, Moreira, Bunn|
|Defenders||Chester, Tuanzebe, Richards, Taylor, Elmohamady, Bree, Hatton|
|Midfielders||Jedinak, Whelan, Hourihane, McGinn, Lansbury, Bjarnason, Grealish|
|Forwards||Bolasie, El Ghazi, Adomah, Abraham, Kodjia, Hogan, Davis, Hepburn-Murphy|
Villa go into Sunday’s match without key midfielder Jack Grealish or fellow midfielder Birkir Bjarnason.
Meanwhile, Dean Smith will have to monitor a number of players in the build up to kick off. Neil Taylor and James Bree are doubts in the defence, while midfielders Henri Lansbury, Mile Jedinak and Albert Adomah are all concerns.
Goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic will join up with the squad in January after his signing from Gent was confirmed.
Possible Aston Villa starting XI: Nyland; Elmohamady, Chester, Tuanzebe, Hutton; McGinn, Hourihane, Whelan, Bolasie, El Ghazi; Abraham
|Defenders||Douglas, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Pearce, Phillips, Berardi, Shaughnessy, Halme|
|Midfielders||Forshaw, Dallas, Hernandez, Baker, Klich, Shackleton, Harrison, Brown|
|Forwards||Roofe, Alioski, Roberts, Saiz, Bamford, Clarke, Harrison|
Leeds’ squad is hit by a number of absentees, which could pose issues in the busy festive period.
The defence is the area of the squad worst hit, with Liam Cooper and Gaetano Berardi ruled out along with Conor Shaughnessy.
In the midfield, Stuart Dallas is sidelined while Samuel Saiz has agreed to join Getafe and will train with the Spanish club before the move is formalised. Izzy Brown is set to miss out for a month with a thigh problem.
Luke Ayling will return to the team after a couple of months out with Marcelo Bielsa stating he will “probably be a starter”.
Possible Leeds starting XI: Peacock-Farrell; Ayling, Jansson, Philips, Douglas; Baker, Klich, Forshaw, Alioski, Hernandez; Roofe
Betting & Match Odds
Aston Villa are 6/4 favourites to win the match at bet365 . Leeds can be backed at 15/8, while a draw is priced at 13/5.
After an absence of 15 years, Leeds United are finally making a strong move to return to the Premier League under the guidance of Marcelo Bielsa.
The Argentine has guided them to five successive Championship victories and the top of the table, but on Saturday they lost their status as they were not in action. Less than 24 hours after they were pushed off first place by Norwich, they have the opportunity to regain it, albeit against an Aston Villa side in good form.
Injuries have hampered the plans of Bielsa and the Lilywhites in recent times, but they have not stopped the Elland Road side’s impressive momentum, which has made the manager something of a cult hero at the club.
“I am thankful, it is important for me the feeling they give to the club, but they give me an importance that I think I don’t deserve,” he said ahead of this encounter. “Affection is the maximum aspiration for a human being. When you receive affection, it is something you are very thankful for. In this case though, I don’t think I deserve the recognition I am getting.”
New Aston Villa boss Dean Smith will enjoy similar recognition if he keeps the team on an upward course in the table, with his side consistently one of the most entertaining to watch in the league, with an astonishing 77 goals coming from their 22 matches to date.
“I think it will be one hell of a good game because both teams play in the same manner,” he predicted.
Victory would lift Villa to seventh in the standings and within touching distance of the playoff positions for the first time since a 4-1 loss to Sheffield United on September 1.