Aston Villa v Leeds United 23rd October 2020 at Villa Park

I had originally put this down as a home game in my diary by mistake and even though I had changed it, I was still convinced we were playing at home. I wouldn’t have thought that if I’d been going to the game though! When I heard that Villa had a 100% record so far this season, I really hoped we could be the ones to beat them.

The team: Meslier, Ayling (Captain), Alioski, Struijk, Bamford, Rodrigo, Dallas, Costa, Harrison, Klich and Koch. Subs: Shackleton for Struijk (21), Hernandez for Rodrigo (79) and Raphinha for Costa (83). Subs not used: Casilla, Roberts, Davis and Poveda. Leeds won the game 3-0 with a hat-trick from Bamford (55, 67 and 74). Attendance: Zero, behind closed doors. Referee: P. Tierney.

Leeds started the game well with first Bamford’s header going narrowly wide and Alioski’s shot saved by the Villa keeper. Villa had a chance before Struijk ended up with an early booking after a foul on Grealish. After he made a second tackle on Grealish which saw normal service resume from Grealish in diving and cheating, trying to get Struijk sent off, Bielsa made a tactical decision to bring Shackleton on. Nurturing the young lad was a good move and to ensure we kept 11 men on the pitch too. Grealish could actually be a good footballer if he took a leaf out of our players books, by staying on his feet and cutting out the cheating. Because of this, I cannot stand him as a player, give me our honest players any day. The change made a difference to the way we had been playing and put us more on the back foot for a while. It looked like Villa were going to take the lead when Grealish beat Meslier but Ayling made a goal line clearance to keep us in the game. Bamford had a shot blocked and Rodrigo’s shot went over the crossbar before VAR was brought in to check whether Villa should have a penalty, but this went in our favour. Leeds best chance of the game came just before half time after a great run from Harrison saw him cross the ball into the middle, but Bamford’s shot went wide. It was nice to see us finish the half strongly.

Leeds started the second half well too with Harrison on another great run down the left, bringing a save out of their keeper. Leeds were lucky not to be punished when Grealish went on a run and Meslier made a great save to prevent Villa taking the lead. As Villa piled on the pressure, I started to get the jitters and thought we may have to change things when Meslier made another save to keep them out. Bielsa decided otherwise and he was right, because another run from Harrison down the wing saw him cross the ball to Rodrigo. His shot was parried by the keeper and Bamford got to the rebound first and slammed the ball into the net to put us into the lead. After a challenge with Mings, Bamford went down in the penalty area hurt. Although VAR concluded it was no penalty, Mings should have had a second yellow for man handling Bamford, grabbing his shirt and dragging him off the floor. Oh, dear Mings, what a shame, you got Bamford that mad that he scored two more cracking goals to get a hat trick!  His second was a cracking shot from the edge of the box after a great pass from Klich. Klich himself had a shot saved by the keeper before Bamford completed his hat trick with a third sublime goal. Rodrigo sent the ball out to Costa on the wing, who passed to Shackleton in the penalty area. His ball came back for Costa to pass to Bamford with four defenders around him and he switched feet and sent a fantastic shot into the top left of the goal to give us a great score line away from home! That was it, game over although Villa did have one shot that whistled over the crossbar but Meslier had it covered. Hernandez had a great chance to get a fourth in the closing stages of the game only to put the ball over the top of the goal.

That was a great win for Leeds and I also feel that Bamford and Rodrigo will have a great partnership. With Bamford not on his own at the front, that will put more pressure on the opposition. The three points sees Leeds beat Villa on their doorstep to stop their record start to the season and their unbeaten run. Although the rest of the teams have still to play this weekend, it was still nice seeing us in third place in the Premier League with 10 points. As I’ve said before, aim for the top Leeds and you never know what happens! LUFC – Marching on Together!