Jesse Marsch is hoping his Leeds United side will find “a click or spark” in Friday’s trip to Aston Villa in order to kickstart their Premier League campaign.
Leeds are on a run of six games without a win in all competitions and have won just two of their past 16 either side of the World Cup break.
They sit just two points above the relegation zone heading into this weekend’s games, but Marsch is remaining upbeat about what is to come this season.
“Rather than two wins in 16, I’d talk more about the last eight (games). I’d say actually in the last eight our balance is not bad. We’re moving in the right direction,” Marsch said.
“We’re trying to get performances to continue to grow and add up to be more and more so that we can be closer and closer to what we’re trying to develop here.
“I feel like we’re in a good place. We’re poised to have a click or a spark happen that can launch us.”
Leeds are five points behind opponents Villa having played a game less, with the Villans experiencing an upturn in fortunes since Unai Emery replaced Steven Gerrard.
Villa have taken 10 points from the past 15 on offer, though they were on the end of an embarrassing 2-1 defeat against fourth-tier Stevenage in the FA Cup third round last week.
“I’m expecting a response every day on the training ground,” Emery said. “We arrived here two months ago and we are doing some things so quickly.
“Sometimes we can have very good results and very good performances but sometimes, like last week, we don’t play like I want.
“That match was an unusual one and an accident. The first response is Friday and I’m so, so excited to be with our supporters again at home.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Aston Villa – Danny Ings
Ings has recently lost his place in the side, leading to speculation he could be on his way out this transfer window, but he has a good recent goalscoring record. The 30-year-old has scored five goals in his past seven Premier League games, which is as many as he had in his previous 32 in the competition.
Leeds United – Rodrigo
Rodrigo has already bettered his goals tally from his previous two Premier League campaigns, the Spain international having reached double figures with 16 games played. He has been responsible for 40 per cent of Leeds’ 25 goals in the competition this term – only Erling Haaland (47 per cent) and Harry Kane (41 per cent) have a higher share for their side.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Aston Villa are unbeaten in their past four Premier League games against Leeds United (W2 D2), keeping three clean sheets in this run.
– The Villans have lost six of their past nine Premier League games played on a Friday (W2 D1), though they did win their last one against Southampton earlier this season (1-0).
– Villa scored seven goals in 11 league games under Gerrard this season, at an average of 0.6 per game, compared to 1.9 goals per game (13 in seven matches) since he left.
– Leeds have won just one of their eight away league games this season (D2 L5), beating Liverpool 2-1 in October. They have kept just one clean sheet on the road so far this term, though that was last time out at Newcastle United (0-0).
– There have been 13 goals scored in the opening 15 minutes of Villa’s Premier League matches this season (F6 A7), more than any other side. Each of their last five games at Villa Park has seen the scoring opened in this time period.