Fulham travel to Villa Park this Saturday to try and continue an unbeaten run, of three games, that has seen us climb out of the lower regions of the Premier League to a lofty ninth place. However, after the high of a 0-0 draw at Anfield, last Saturday, the trip to play Martin O`Neill`s side looks to be every bit as challenging. Villa have gate-crashed the top four places in the Premier League and will be eager to ensure that the three points on offer are theirs thereby maintaining, if not improving, their current status.
Ahead of the match Roy Hodgson has spoken about the fine form Aston Villa are in remarking,
“Villa have done well to beat Arsenal and then take a point against Manchester United in their last two matches.”
“They will be seeing this game as a definite three-pointer which will add to their total in trying to get a Champions League spot.”
“We have to disappoint them and the only way we can do that is by playing well enough to thwart them in their attacking play.”
Not sure about disappoint them Roy, I`d prefer to leave them absolutely gutted!
Aston Villa Team News:
It looks like being a monumental day for the Villa keeper Brad Freidel. The ex-Blackburn goalkeeper, if selected, will break the current record of 166 consecutive games, as a keeper, currently held by David James. Here at Vital Fulham we`d like to offer him our congratulations.
Elsewhere Martin O`Neill will be hoping that Carlos Cuellar will be fit again after injury whilst John Carew and Luke Young are also hoping to be declared fit.
Expect O`Neill to choose form the following squad – Friedel, Guzan, Luke Young, Davies, Lauresen, Cuellar, Knight, Shorey, Reo-Coker, Petrov, Barry, Sidwell, Ashley Young, Milner, Agbonlahor, Carew, Harewood, Salifou, Delfouneso, Gardner and Osbourne
Player to watch: Ashley Young
Gabriel Agbonlahor may well receive more of the plaudits, especially from the pundits, but Young has all the attributes to become a major star. His speed and skill will provide us with problems and its essential that our covering man is there to pick up Young if he beats his marker. Watch him – you`ve been warned!
Fulham Team News:
Roy Hodgson, we believe, will stick to his tried and trusted starting eleven of the past few weeks. Clint Dempsey appears to have overtaken Zoltan Gera in the pecking order and, after that well deserved draw at Anfield, we doubt whether Roy will implement any changes.
Therefore, expect to see Fulham line up in a familiar fashion of;- Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky, Dempsey, Bullard, Murphy, Davies, Johnson and Zamora.
Player to watch: Aaron Hughes
Our influential Northern Ireland international will be looking to give a good performance as he returns to an old stomping ground. Aaron has been influential this season playing alongside Brede Hangeland and, hopefully, will keep out a lively Aston Villa attack.
Match Facts & Stats
I doubt whether you`ll uncover statistics as remarkable as these but in 48 games between the two sides in the league the record stands at Aston Villa 16 wins, Fulham 16 wins and 16 draws!
But, in league action at Villa Park only, we`re lagging behind. We`ve yet to win a Premier League game there whilst Villa have 5 wins with 2 games drawn.
In all league games, we do have 4 to our name whilst Villa have 13 with 7 drawn.
Last season we went down 2-1 at Villa Park courtesy of a Maloney goal in the last minute after Dempsey had given us an early lead before Zat Knight equalised for them by putting through his own goal.
Mike Jones (Cheshire) will be keeping law and order
After a mini-unbeaten run that includes a draw at Anfield and wins over Spurs and Newcastle, we have every reason to be in a buoyant mood. Aston Villa will prove to be difficult opponents as they seek to secure the fourth position they hold in the table, but we should take faith from the fact that Middlesbrough went to Villa Park and made them look ordinary, so why can`t we! I`ll go for a 1-1 draw with Andrew Johnson, possibly, as our scorer.
Next weekend, Manchester City come to Craven Cottage!