Leeds United take on Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday in a 5:30pm kick-off at Elland Road.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side earned a hugely impressive 3-0 win against Southampton in midweek, climbing back into the top half of the table.
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Villa are two places and one point ahead of Leeds with two games in hand, but are set to miss their talisman Jack Grealish through injury once again.
Leeds are 23/20 favourites to win the match, with the draw 13/5 and a Villa win 11/5.
Although Villa have had a couple of days more rest than Leeds, I fancy Bielsa’s side to build on their win against Southampton here.
Put simply, Villa are not the same side without Grealish’s ball-carrying and creative skills, with Dean Smith’s side beginning to look tired and out of ideas even prior to the England midfielder’s injury.
Indeed, they’ve had fewer than three shots on target in three of their last four matches in February, compared to Leeds who have racked up 26 in the same timeframe.
As such, I’m going to back Leeds to score while earning 4+ corners. Bielsa’s side have hit this mark in 22 of their 25 league matches this season, while only failing to score on five occasions.
Villa’s opponents, meanwhile, have had 4+ corners in nine of their last 11 games.
They beat Villa 3-0 in the reverse fixture, too, so should take even further confidence from that.
In order to boost our Bet Builder, I’ll also back both sides to pick up a card each. There’s little love lost between these two clubs, especially after the last meeting at Elland Road two seasons ago in the Championship when Leeds controversially carried on and scored despite a Villa player lying injured on the ground.
They picked up two cards each in the reverse fixture, while referee Peter Bankes has given both sides at least one card each in nine of his 10 Premier League games this season, averaging 3.50 cards per game.
Over 0 Goals for Leeds, Over 3 Corners for Leeds, Over 0 Cards for Leeds, Over 0 Cards for Aston Villa @ 11/10.
If you’re looking for a bigger price, Leeds to win, 1+ card each team and 5+ Leeds corners is 4/1.
In terms of player cards, it’s harder to predict without Grealish on the pitch, but Douglas Luiz looks a great price at 10/3 (bet365).
The Villa midfielder has been carded in each of his last three games, racking up seven fouls across those.
You could double him up with Mateusz Klich (7/2) for 20/1, with the Polish midfielder picking up five bookings this season, including in the reverse fixture. He was also booked in both Championship fixtures against Villa in 2018/19.
Alternatively, Luiz and Pascal Struijk, who was booked in the reverse fixture and is currently deputising for the injured Kalvin Phillips at the base of Leeds’ midfield, is 25/1 with Betfair.
Leeds are blessed with one of the in-form players in the league in the shape of Raphinha at the moment, with the winger scoring a superb free-kick against Southampton in midweek.
That strike was his third from outside of the area this season, making 16/1 (Sky Bet) for him to replicate that quite appealing with Villa likely to sit quite deep. Betfair have boosted him to 5/2 to have a shot on target from outside of the area.
Another of Betfair’s boosts I am keen on is Raphinha and Bertrand Traore to have a shot on target each at 12/5.
Villa’s creative burden is likely to fall more heavily on Traore’s shoulders in the absence of Grealish, with the Burkina Faso winger scoring against Leicester last week and landing a shot on target in 12 of his last 16 league games. Raphinha, meanwhile, has done so in each of his last seven games, and in 13 of his last 16.
Betfair and Sky Bet both have Liam Cooper at 7/2 to have a headed shot on target, too, with the defender landing five shots on target across his last two games – and a shot on target in six of his last 10 starts – as his threat from set-pieces grows.
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