CHAMPIONSHIP specialist Ross Casey (@RossCasey24) shares his verdict from Friday night's clash between Aston Villa and Leeds at Aston Villa.
Aston Villa v Leeds | Friday 13th April 2018, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Aston Villa can put pressure on third placed Fulham by winning the early Championship fixture tonight. Leeds could be seven points off the play-offs with a win here. Leeds on the other hand are now mathematically unable to reach the play-offs and are again under the microscope for their most recent implosion.
It looks like Aston Villa will have to settle for a play-off spot thanks to a run of five wins in 11 matches now leaves them five points off the top of the league with just four games remaining.
However, they come into this Friday night fixture on the back of a last gasp win over third placed Cardiff which in front of a raucous Villa Park will give Steve Bruce plenty of confidence his players are capable of finishing the season strongly.
That is now 13 wins at home in The Championship for The Villains, making them the third best home team in the whole league and goals are certainly not a problem for them either – only Wolves have netted more than the 40 that Villa have scored on home soil.
When you add the goal threat from Jonathon Kodjia too, who is now back from injury, you have to fear the worst for a Leeds side here – that have nothing left to play for but pride.
Leeds have been on an awful run since the 30th of December, when they lost 1-0 at Birmingham. That loss was their first in six, but since then they have picked up just two victories in 19 and have absolutely bottled their promotion challenge, so they are set for another season in the Football League.
Both of those wins in 2018 have come at Elland Road, meaning their current run away from home reads played 10, lost seven, drawn three and won none. An even closer look at their away form suggests that they really struggle against the better sides in The Championship. Of their seven victories away from Elland Road this season, only Bristol City are in the top half.
Defensively on the road too, they are really struggling, having conceded at least two goals in their last six away games – a sorry total of 14 in total in that run of fixtures.
This has meant that Paul Heckingbottom has a managerial record of played 12, won two, drawn four and lost six and some bookmakers are already offering odds on his replacement.
The betting angle
I see this one going to the home side. Considering Leeds' current away form and record against the top sides in The Championship on the road, this one looks a no brainer – especially as Villa have won five of their last seven at home and need to win to have any real hope of automatic promotion whilst Leeds are without form and hope.
However, Villa are a short price and I like the odds of 13/8 that they win and Jonathon Kodjia scores with Sky Bet. He has played three games since injury all off the bench and after three games in seven days, I expect Steve Bruce to start him here after giving both Scott Hogan and Lewis Grabban a go in recent fixtures.
He netted the last time he played against Leeds and can re-open his account here for a Villa side buoyant after their win over Cardiff in midweek.
Aston Villa v Leeds – Jonathon Kodjia to score and Aston Villa to win (13/8 Sky Bet)