Aston Villa v Leeds: Best bets in bookings markets in what may be a fiery contest

There's Friday night football in the Premier League this week when Aston Villa host Leeds and Andy Schooler has picked out a 13/5 shot for the contest.

Aston Villa v Leeds
Friday October 23, 20:00
Live on BT Sport Box Office

Villa flying high

Four wins out of four, including a stunning 7-2 demolition of the champions, have seen Aston Villa make their best league start for 90 years.

Having only just survived on the final day of last term, Dean Smith's men deserve much credit but before anyone declares them the next Leicester, let's just take a closer look at their games so far.

The first two were against Sheffield United and Fulham, the current bottom two who have scored just six goals between them.

Of course, Villa then had that incredible victory over Liverpool, a result which will be remembered for a long time, but it was also, almost without doubt, the worst performance by the Reds in their five years under Jurgen Klopp.

Essentially Villa caught them on a very bad day and a freak result ensued.

Last week at Leicester they looked a long way from the team that tore the Liverpool defence apart. Despite facing an injury-ravaged side, Villa created few chances and only scraped a 1-0 win in injury time.

I get this may all sound a bit negative but my point is I think it's a bit too early to judge Villa right now.

Ross Barkley is emblematic of that viewpoint. He's been rightly praised for his early impact at Villa Park but anyone who watched him at Everton and Chelsea will know he's found it pretty much impossible to deliver consistent performances over any length of time.

Leeds lose Phillips

Here, Villa face a Leeds side who have already proved they can compete at this level - they've drawn with Manchester City and only a late penalty denied them such a result at Anfield.

However, Villa may again have enjoyed a slice of fortune in terms of match timing/opposition injuries.

A shoulder problem has ruled England international Kalvin Phillips out of action and the deep-lying midfielder will be a big miss.

Marcelo Bielsa was quick to reveal Pascal Struijk will replace Phillips in that role, one the Dutchman performed with aplomb at the back end of last season.

Of greater concern to the manager now will be the fitness of Liam Cooper - the centre-back will be needed to replace Struijk in defence as Spain international Diego Llorente remains out.

If Cooper fails to make it, a rejig of the defence will likely be required with Luke Ayling moving into the middle, Stuart Dallas to the right and Ezgjan Alioski coming in on the left.

Result looks hard to call

That would be a lot of change to deal with ahead of facing a team full of confidence right now.

Given the uncertainty around that back-line, it hard to be confident about Leeds' chances at 3.2.

Yet at the same time, it still feels a bit risky to be backing Villa at odds of 2.38.

The draw may well be the best bet in the match result market at 3.65.

Possible value going low on goals

In terms of the goal lineunder 2.5 looks like it offers a spot of value at 2.18.

Villa struggled to create at Leicester, while Leeds didn't carve out many clear chances against Wolves despite having plenty of the ball.

Leeds' last three games have now seen fewer than three goals, while two of Villa's wins so far have come via the 1-0 scoreline.

With the visitors likely to have a bit more focus on their defensive duties given Phillips' absence (plus Llorente and maybe Cooper), this looks to have potential, albeit those doubts about the Leeds' personnel remain.

Pole gets card vote

My best bet will therefore come from the cards market with Mateusz Klich worth backing to find his way into referee Paul Tierney's notebook.

This match way may well be won and lost in midfield where Douglas Luiz, John McGinn and Barkley have all started the season well for Villa. Further wide, Jack Grealish's threat is well known.

McGinn and Grealish were both in the top five most-fouled players last season (using per-game averages) and Klich will be crossing paths with both, especially McGinn.

Klich has been carded in nine of his last 32 appearances for Leeds and was also booked in both encounters with Villa in the 2018/19 Championship campaign.

That season included the controversial goal at Elland Road, scored by Klich, which Bielsa then allowed Villa to cancel out by equalising unopposed.

Tyrone Mings, McGinn and Grealish all played in that game so there's a chance of some residual bad blood which will only help things in terms of this bet.

Klich is 13/5 to be booked in this renewal which looks fair enough.

Opta fact

Aston Villa are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games (W6 D2), the longest current run of all sides in the competition. They've earned 20 points in these eight games, more than they had in their previous 26 matches in the competition (19).

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