Paul Lambert’s young Aston Villa side welcome Felix Magath’s Fulham to Villa park on Saturday 5th April 2014, for what will surely be Fulham’s last chance to start the run that could help them avoid relegation.
Neither side have set the world alight this season and ultimately both will have disappointed their fans when the season comes to an end.
Aston Villa have flattered to deceive this season and their young side has been found out time and time again, especially in defence, where their lack of experience has been cruelly exposed on numerous occasions.
Fulham have fared no better – they are now onto their third manager of the season and have a squad bloated with loan signings, expensive flops and plenty of ageing players.
Aston Villa come into this game on a better run of form, however, they have picked up 2 wins in their last 5 outings compared to Fulham’s solitary victory.
Villa’s last 2 wins have come at Villa Park and that will have pleased manager Paul Lambert, especially after their previous home game resulted in a humiliating 4-1 defeat to Stoke City.
Fulham, on the other hand, have had very little to cheer about when on their travels, which is a problem that has plagued their Premier League history.
Their last away victory was on Boxing Day, when they visited Carrow Road and beat Norwich 2-0.
- Fulham won the previous encounter this season 2-0 at Craven Cottage with goals from Steve Sidwell and Dimitar Berbatov.
- This fixture very rarely produces many goals, with the last 5 meeting producing only 6 goals.
- Fulham have won none of their last 14 away games in the league at Villa Park (L7 D7).
- Fulham have exactly the same number of points after 32 matches as they did in 2007-08, which is their lowest haul in Premier League history. They won four of the last six matches to escape the drop on the final day on goal difference.
- Aston Villa have only mustered fewer points after 31 Premier League games in one previous campaign (30 in 2012-13).
- Aston Villa have conceded the highest percentage of first half goals in the Premier League this season (54%).
- The Whites have used more players than any other team in the Premier League this season (37).
Aston Villa come into the game with huge injury news that Christian Benteke will miss the rest of the season with an achilles injury hanging over them… They will also be without the long-term injured Charles N’Zogbia, Karim El-Ahmadi, Lidbor Kozak and Jores Okore for this game and probably the rest of the season.
Paul Lambert could shake things up though after the 4-1 defeat to Manchester United. Matthew Lowton is pushing for a recall at right full-back and Grant Holt will probably replace Benteke.
Fulham currently have injury concerns over Damien Duff, Scott Parker, Dan Burn, Konstantinos Mitroglou and Georgios Karagounis. Mitroglou is the real concern and there is every possibility that his knee injury could rule him out for the remainder of the season.
Who Felix Magath picks for this game is anyone’s guess, however, Ashkan Dejagah could earn a recall after his goal scoring exploits last time out against Everton.
Fabian Delph has had an impressive season for Villa. Many people believe he should have had an England call up by now. The left footed, box to box, midfielder has made 27 starts for Villa this season.
His 3 goals show that he can be dangerous when getting forward, however, it’s his defensive work that is the highlight of his performances, with 55 interceptions and a 75% tackle success rate, he really is a tireless worker in the Villa midfield.
Although Fulham have a terrible season, Ashkan Dejagah has not disgraced himself. When selected he has performed admirably and been a constant attacking threat.
In only 992 minutes this season he has contributed 4 goals, 1 assist and created 3 clear cut chances. If Fulham do get relegated, expect to this is young player back in the Premier League next season but with a different side.
This really is last chance saloon for Fulham. Defeat in this game will surely spell relegation for the Cottagers.
Villa have been really hit and miss at home this season and that is the only hope I can give Fulham, get an early goal and hopefully the Villa Park faithful will start to get edgy and that will filter down to the players.
I have a feeling there will be goals in this one and predict Fulham just coming out on top in a high scoring game, 3-2.