Game #5616

Season | 2020-21 |

Matchday | #28 |

League Match | #24 |
Manager Game | #111 |
Saturday, 27 February 2021
Premier League | Away | Leeds United | Elland Road | Behind closed doors | 

20-21 #28 5 Ollie Watkins
20-21 #28 5 Ollie Watkins

Saturday, 27 February 2021 | Ollie Watkins shields the ball from a Dirty Leeds arm wrestle

20-21 #28 6 Bertrand Traoré
20-21 #28 6 Bertrand Traoré

Saturday, 27 February 2021 | Bertrand Traoré scampers away from the attentions of Dirty Leeds

20-21 #28 4 Matt Targett
20-21 #28 4 Matt Targett

Saturday, 27 February 2021 | Matt Targett feels the Dirty Leeds touch as Jacob Ramsey looks on thanking his lucky stars he plays for a proper club

20-21 #28 5 Ollie Watkins
20-21 #28 5 Ollie Watkins

Saturday, 27 February 2021 | Ollie Watkins shields the ball from a Dirty Leeds arm wrestle


Game Summary

Manager | Dean Smith |

KO | 17.30 |
Referee | Peter Bankes |

 HT Score | 1-0 |

 FT Result | Won |
 FT Score | 1-0 |

Last 5 Games | LWDL |

Scorer(s) | Anwar El Ghazi | 5' | 

Assist(s) | Ollie Watkins | 5' | 

League Position | 8th | - |

Team News

Matty Cash and captain Jack Grealish are again ruled out through injury as are long term absentees Kortney Hause and Wesley. Villa's recent indifferent form sees Dean Smith make changes to midfield with Ross Barkley and Douglas Luiz dropped to the bench with 19 year old Jacob Ramsey and Marvelous Nakamba promoted to the starting line up.

17 year old right back Kaine Kesler retains his place in the squad as Bjorn Engels returns to the subs bench after injury.

Line Up

GK Emiliano Martínez |

RB Ahmed Elmohamady | BOOKED | 80' |

CB Ezri Konsa |

CB Tyrone Mings |

LB Matt Targett | BOOKED | 61' |

M Marvelous Nakamba |

M John McGinn |

M Jacob Ramsey | SUB OFF | 79' |

W Bertrand Traoré |

W Anwar El Ghazi | GOAL | 5' | SUB OFF | 88' |

CF Ollie Watkins | ASSIST  | 5' |


M Morgan Sanson for M Jacob Ramsey | 79' |

W Trézéguet for W Anwar El Ghazi | 88' |


Unused Substitutes

GK Tom Heaton

LB Neil Taylor

CB Bjorn Engels

RB Kaine Kesler

M Douglas Luiz

M Ross Barkley

CF Keinan Davis


Yellow | Matt Targett | 61' |

Yellow | Ahmed Elmohamady | 80' |

Match Stats

Possession F | 30%
Possession A | 70%
Shots F | 9
Shots A | 13
Shots on Target F | 4
Shots on Target A | 3
Corners F | 5
Corners A | 7
Fouls F | 14

Fouls A | 14

Team Stats

Starting XI Average Age | 26.24 | 

Oldest Player | RB Ahmed Elmohamady | 33.49 |

Youngest Player | M Jacob Ramsey | 19.77 |

Not Selected

GK Jed Steer


Injury | 4 |

CF Wesley | Knee, ACL 1 Jan 20 - Unknown |

CB Kortney Hause | Foot, 20 Jan 21 - 20 Mar 21 |

RB Matty Cash | Hamstring, 21 Feb - Unknown |

M Jack Grealish | Leg, 21 Feb - Unknown |

Loaned Out | 4 |

CF Cameron Archer | Solihull Moors | 2 Oct 20 - 3 Jan 21 |

GK Lovre Kalinić | HNK Hajduk Split | 18 Jan 21 - 30 Jun 21 |

M Conor Hourihane | Swansea City | 20 Jan 20 - 31 May 21 |

RB Frédéric Guilbert | RC Strasbourg Alsace |  31 Jan 21 - 30 Jun 21 |

On this day 27 February 2021

Emiliano Martínez equalled Brad Friedel's record (2009-10) of 8 clean sheets away from home in a single Premier League season.

Anwar El Ghazi was involved in 7 of Villa's 8 shots in the game, creating two chances and striking 5 efforts.

Match Report

*BBC Sport*

*Saturday, 27 February 2021*

Aston Villa moved within six points of the top four with an impressive victory over Leeds United on a difficult pitch at Elland Road.

Anwar El Ghazi scored the only goal, brilliantly controlling Ollie Watkins' cross and firing past Islan Meslier after just five minutes.

Dean Smith's side, still shorn of injured captain Jack Grealish, looked comfortable against Leeds who, despite winning their last two home games against Crystal Palace and Southampton, lacked penetration throughout.

Despite the defeat, Marcelo Bielsa's United are still secure in 10th position with 35 points from their 26 games, just four points behind a rejuvenated Villa, who have games against Sheffield United, Wolves and Newcastle coming up as they look to strengthen their bid for European qualification.

No Grealish, no problem

Smith has refuted accusations Aston Villa are a one-man team but there is no doubting they are a more dangerous outfit when Grealish is available.

Before this match, their win percentage in the last three seasons dropped from 42% with Grealish to 17% without and his absence played a role in their laboured defeat by Leicester City last weekend.

And Smith's insistence that his team have other options was proved when their attacking players combined skilfully to secure this win.

El Ghazi had an impressive goal streak pre-Christmas and he rediscovered his scoring touch in fine fashion, ghosting in behind the Leeds defence to bury Watkins' strongly hit pass.

He showed further attacking intent shortly after, twice stinging Meslier's palms with shots from distance.

This victory though owed as much to their miserly defence - only Manchester City and Chelsea have conceded fewer goals in the Premier League - and this was their 13th clean sheet of the campaign.

Credit must go to Smith as well for making changes in midfield, he brought in Marvelous Nakamba and Jacob Ramsey to form an impenetrable barrier in front of the back four.

Now, with two games in hand on the sides above, Villa will be plotting a return to Europe for the first time since 2010.

Leeds quietened on difficult pitch

Bielsa's team have caught the eye in the Premier League for their slick interplay and persistent goal threat.

Both qualities were in evidence against Southampton last Tuesday in a commanding 3-0 victory.

However, on a pitch that looked increasingly threadbare, their dominance of possession did not bring many chances against Villa's stubborn backline.

Indeed, Leeds completed more than twice as many passes as their visitors but rarely threatened, particularly in a second half that featured no shots on target.

In-form Raphinha was well shackled by Ahmed El Mohamady and top scorer Patrick Bamford, who hit a stunning hat-trick in the reverse fixture, was hardly involved, bar a first minute shot that failed to trouble Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez.

Tyler Roberts had a good sight of goal midway through the first half but hit his effort straight at Martinez.

United's performance was summed up by Raphinha heading the ball into the ground and over the bar when well placed in the final moments.

'Game plan worked' - what they said

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith told BBC Sport: 


"Not many people would have fancied us against Leeds and they make you work hard. We got an early goal and showed lots of character.

"We've got the chance [to finish in the top six] but there are some top teams in there. We'll just take it game by game."


*The Guardian*

*Saturday, 27 February 2021*

Anwar El Ghazi scores winner as commanding Aston Villa blunt Leeds

Before their match against Leeds, Dean Smith sounded mildly irritated by the focus on the injured Jack Grealish and Aston Villa’s inability to win a Premier League game without their captain this season. “We are not a one-man team,” the Villa manager had insisted, before his annoyance was forgotten and his argument validated by an accomplished victory.

Anwar El Ghazi’s early strike was sufficient for a merited win at Elland Road, as Villa made light of their captain’s absence and stifled Leeds with a mature, composed away display. The visitors restricted Marcelo Bielsa’s expansive side to few sights of Emiliano Martínez’s goal, pressed to telling effect in the first half and countered strongly in the second. Leeds’ frustration was encapsulated by the sight of Bielsa furiously pacing up and down his technical area in the final stages, bellowing instructions that went ignored.


For the first time in four matches this season, Villa delivered without Grealish as their conductor.

“It is nice to win without Jack,” Smith admitted. “A lot has been made of us not winning without Jack but that was against Liverpool who were top of the league, Leicester in second, and Wolves who were seventh. None of them were easy games, but I’m sure he’ll be cheering this win at home today. Few teams will restrict Leeds to as few chances as we did. We got our tactics spot-on and the players deserve enormous credit.”

Leeds were subdued by their standards and came nowhere near the potent level that brushed aside Southampton on Tuesday, but almost led after 26 seconds when Patrick Bamford’s miscued shot presented Raphinha with a difficult but decent chance at the far post. The unmarked Brazilian failed to connect. In the 89th minute, he met substitute Jack Harrison’s cross but headed down and wastefully wide of the Villa goal. Leeds had few opportunities in between and, though Bielsa raised eyebrows by claiming his team were superior, he was correct to state the hosts contributed to their own downfall with a lack of precision and imagination in the final third.

“We had many minutes of domination and very few when we were dominated,” he said. “The goal wasn’t intentional, it was a shot in which a player slipped and it became a pass for a player who wasn’t asking for the ball.”

But El Ghazi may have been seeking a little revenge. The Dutch international was sent off on his last visit here in 2019, when Bielsa ordered his players to let Villa equalise following a controversial Leeds goal as they both chased promotion.

El Ghazi carried the greatest threat throughout the first half. In keeping with his prominent performance, the winger took and ultimately converted from the corner that exposed a lapse in concentration in the Leeds’ defence. His set-piece sailed across the area to Ollie Watkins, who lost his footing as he shot but succeeded in finding El Ghazi, who had ghosted into the area. The winger -who played under Bielsa at Lille - beat Illan Meslier from close range but did not celebrate due to a suspected offside. VAR confirmed he had been played on by Liam Cooper.

Martínez denied Leeds a swift equaliser when he blocked a powerful shot from Tyler Roberts after Raphinha’s drive deflected into the forward’s path. Otherwise he was relatively untroubled, and it was not until the half-hour mark that Leeds began to find their rhythm and brought Raphinha into the game to a greater degree.

Villa were marshalled expertly by Tyrone Mings but their entire backline impressed, while Marvelous Nakamba and John McGinn worked tirelessly in central midfield. Leeds’ pressure was absorbed comfortably and the absence of Grealish, for once, was not felt.


Post Match

*Match winner Anwar El Ghazi*

*Saturday, 27 February 2021*

“The last time we were here was hectic and chaotic, so I’m happy this time was a better end for me ... the last time I was really disappointed. I was very upset because of the play-offs and everything, so I am happy with the result today ... we know Jack Grealish is very important for us, and without him it’s going to be a hard game, so the boys played really well ... I will have a talk with Marcelo Bielsa [his former boss at Lille] inside, I have a very good relationship with him, he is a very good coach, one of the best I have ever had, I have a lot of respect for him.”


*Villa boss Dean Smith*

*Saturday, 27 February 2021*

“It’s a really tough place to come ... our gameplan came off really well, we pressed well in the first half ... in the second we went with a low block and gave them few chances ... we wanted to play safety first and did that today ... we got on the front foot early ... we got our rewards ... our intensity level was much better than last week ... the players have shown today that they’re a good team ... they played a team who score goals freely and kept a clean sheet.”

You have to try and match what they do – they’re a good team and play with lots of energy and we had to let them know we were in the game which we did. Tactically we were good – second half I was so pleased and we were always a threat on the counter.

“I needed to freshen it up, there's a few players that have played a lot of minutes this season so we wanted to change it up. The pitch was cutting up a lot and people were slipping so we changed tactics a bit and it paid dividends.

“We lost from winning positions too often last season, there is a growing maturity among the group, we are the youngest team on average in the Premier League but there is definitely a growing maturity."

"[Martínez's] groin tightened up which hindered him from kicking the goal kicks – I’ve taken goal kicks myself as a centre back and it’s a tough gig but Tyrone [Mings] and Ezri Konsa did a good job."

"The players deserve lots of credit. Our game plan came off really well. We pressed them really well.

"We probably made it too open at times, but we restricted them to very few chances in the second half. We wanted to play with safety first and we did that.

"We made a really good start and got on the front foot early. Our intensity levels were certainly a lot better than they were last week. In the first half against Leicester there wasn’t as much intensity as I’d like. Today was a different game."

On Jack Grealish: "We want him in our team because of the top player he is, but we’ve shown today we’re a top team. We’ve come to a team that scores goals freely and kept another clean sheet."


*Villa midfielder John McGinn*

*Saturday, 27 February 2021*

Not many people would have fancied us without Jack [Grealish]. Leeds are really fit, they make you work hard for the goal. We got it early today and showed lots of character.

"They have a lot of threat but it leaves some weaknesses at the back. We maybe sat back a bit too much, but we’ll take the three points. It’s massive.

"We’ve got the chance [to finish in the top six] but there are some top teams in there. We’ll just take it game by game, starting on Wednesday [at Sheffield United] – that’ll be a tough game as well."

On Anwar El Ghazi: "When Anwar’s full of confidence he can do that. It’s great he’s among the goals."

On Jack Grealish's absence: "Jack’s a loss to any team. He’s still in and around the training ground, helping and guiding us. We’ll have him back soon, but for the meantime we need to put in performances like that."