Aston Villa will be the team Leeds and Sheffield United are desperate to avoid

Dejected Villa players after Pontus Jansson of Leeds United scored a goal to make it 2-2 during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Leeds United at Villa Park on...

One of Leeds and Sheffield United could face Aston Villa in the play-offs.

Leeds United's Pablo Hernandez takes on Sheffield United's Enda Stevens during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield United and Leeds United at Bramall Lane on December 1, 2018...

Leeds United and Sheffield United do battle this weekend in the Championship knowing the winner will be one step closer to automatic promotion.

The pair are battling it out with Norwich City and only two of the three will achieve their ambition the easy way.

For the loser, the play-offs awaits.


Dropping into third place is always challenging, especially when there are teams with full momentum gatecrashing the play-offs.

The team Leeds or Sheffield United will be desperate to avoid in this scenario is Aston Villa.

Villa are in fine form, winning three games in a row since Jack Grealish's return from injury.

Dean Smith's side are now in eighth place, two points shy of sixth.

Dean Smith Manager of Aston Villa during the FA Cup Third Round match between Aston Villa and Swansea City at Villa Park on January 05, 2019 in Birmingham, England.

Unlike Villa, Middlesbrough, Bristol City and Derby in fourth, fifth and sixth between them boast just one win combined from their last three matches each.

Momentum is on Villa's side and their squad is packed with quality, with a midfield of Grealish, John McGinn and Conor Hourihane among the best in the Championship.

They will not be a comfortable match up at all for Leeds or Sheffield United, who while they have shown better consistency over the course of the season, will be at real risk of losing to Villa in the play-offs.

This raises the stakes for this weekend's match and the rest of the run in for the Whites and the Blades.

Missing out on automatic promotion and ending up with a play-off semi-final against Villa is among the worst case scenarios right now.

Anwar El Ghazi and Jack Grealish of Aston Villa celebrate Conor Hourihane's goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Derby County at Villa Park on March 02, 2019...

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