Fulham - Aston Villa Preview: Villans look to improve on their worst ever start to a campaign
Paul Lambert's side travel to Craven Cottage hoping to put the brakes on their slide towards the relegation zone, while the hosts look to build on a positive start to their season
By Alfie Meekings
Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise
Duff, Sidwell, Riether, Kacaniklic
Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Bennett
Albrighton, El Ahmadi, Delph, Holman
Fulham are waiting on the fitness of Bryan Ruiz, as the forward picked up a thigh injury on international duty with Costa Rica in midweek.
However, Martin Jol's side are bouyed by the return of Mladen Petric (calf), and Dimitar Berbatov is also expected to recover from a thigh injury which kept him out of the Southampton clash.
Philippe Senderos could make the substitutes' bench after returning from an injury which has kept him out of action for the season so far.
Aston Villa are without long-term absentee Richard Dunne, who is still a week or two away after undergoing a groin operation in August.
Meanwhile, Stephen Ireland could feature after recovering from a broken wrist, but it is unlikely Paul Lambert will risk him in the starting XI. Joe Bennett has returned to fitness after suffering a gashed leg.
Darren Bent looks unlikely to start, with speculation rife as to the former Spurs man's future. Gabriel Agbonlahor will probably be be partnered by Christian Benteke, who scored for Belgium in the international break.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- This season has been Aston Villa’s worst ever start to a campaign, taking just five points from seven matches.
- Fulham have not won any of their last six meetings with the Villans, drawing three and losing three.
- The visitors have won on just one of their last seven visits to London, having already lost in the capital twice this season.
- The hosts have lost just two of their last 13 Premier League encounters at Craven Cottage.
- Only Norwich (6.8%) have a worse chance conversion rate than Aston Villa (9.8%) this season.
- Only Barcelona (66.7%) have better shooting accuracy than Fulham (63.5%) across Europe’s top five leagues this season.
- Darren Bent (pictured right) has been caught offside 112 times since August 2010, more than any other player in the Premier League.
- The home side have conceded the joint-most headed goals (four) in the top-flight this season.
- The away side have failed to score in five of their last seven games on the road.
- At least three goals have been scored in all seven of Fulham’s Premier League games this season.
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Top 3 Predictions
Fulham 2-0 Aston Villa
- 13.76 %
Fulham 2-1 Aston Villa
- 13.76 %
Fulham 1-1 Aston Villa
- 11.47 %
|Premier League (EPL)||13 Apr 2013||Aston Villa 1 - Fulham 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||20 Oct 2012||Fulham 1 - Aston Villa 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||10 Mar 2012||Aston Villa 1 - Fulham 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||13 Aug 2011||Fulham 0 - Aston Villa 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||5 Feb 2011||Aston Villa 2 - Fulham 2|
|19 May 2013||Swansea City 0 - Fulham 3||EPL|
|12 May 2013||Fulham 1 - Liverpool 3||EPL|
|4 May 2013||Fulham 2 - Reading 4||EPL|
|27 Apr 2013||Everton 1 - Fulham 0||EPL|
|20 Apr 2013||Fulham 0 - Arsenal FC 1||EPL|
|Returns:||Fulham £17.50||Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
|Returns:||Draw £150.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Returns:||Aston Villa £1510.00||Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|7||John Arne Riise||Defender|
|8||Karim El Ahmadi||Midfielder|
The Bulgarian made an instant impact on his arrival at Craven Cottage, grabbing two goals on his home debut and running West Brom ragged with his incredible first-touch and calmness in possession. If Villa are to take anything from this game, they will need to ensure that the 31-year-old sees as little of the ball as possible, as he has the ability to dictate the game from anywhere on the pitch.
The 21-year-old has looked lively since arriving at Villa Park, and is one of an array of impressive Belgian players on show in the Premier League this season. Benteke has already netted for Villa in their home win against Swansea. He is a threat in the penalty area and could provide the visitors with the key to unlocking a defence which has proven to be vulnerable to aerial attack.