Former Spurs manager hopes for successful return to the Premier League with the Cottagers, while the Scottish boss must silence angry fans with positive start to season
Baird, A. Hughes, Hangeland, J. Riise
Duff, Murphy, Etuhu, Dempsey
Young, Dunne, Collins, Warnock
Albrighton, Petrov, Bannan, N'Zogbia
Target man Bobby Zamora, fit again after missing five months of last season with a broken leg, will be the focal point of the attack as he looks to hold the ball up in the final third and allow the likes of Moussa Dembele, Damien Duff and Clint Dempsey to exert influence on proceedings. New boss Alex McLeish will be forced to reshape the Villa midfield after the high profile departures of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing this summer and the absence of Jean Makoun and Stephen Ireland through injury.
Scotland international Barry Bannan will most probably deputize in the center alongside captain Stilian Petrov, while Marc Albrighton and new signing Charles N’Zogbia will likely switch flanks throughout in a bid to provide the service for Emile Heskey and key man Darren Bent.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- Both managers will be overseeing their first Premier League matches in charge of new teams on Saturday.
- N’Zogbia and Given of Aston Villa and Riise (pictured right) of Fulham are set to make their Premier League debuts for new clubs.
- Fulham and Aston Villa were separated by just one league position – Fulham in 8th, Aston Villa in 9th – and just one point in last season’s final Premier League table.
- Both meetings between these two sides last season ended as draws.
- Fulham has never lost at Craven Cottage on the opening day of a Premier League season.
- Despite clocking up 322 matches between them in English football since 2004, Jol and McLeish have never actually faced each other in management. Jol was sacked from Tottenham Hotspur in October 2007, one month before McLeish took charge at Birmingham City.
- This is the first time Fulham has kicked off a Premier League campaign at Craven Cottage since the 2005/06 season, when the club drew 0-0 at home to Birmingham City.
- Aston Villa striker Bent will fancy his chances of scoring on Saturday – he has found the net on the opening day in four of the last six Premier League seasons.
- Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell could be in line to face former club Aston Villa.
- For Fulham’s Andrew Johnson and Stephen Kelly, an opening day victory over Aston Villa might be even sweeter than usual as both are former Birmingham City players.