Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday March 2 2007
After the disappointment of last weekend, Fulham entertain Aston Villa, in the Premiership this weekend.
It is a game that pitches together the two draw specialists in the Premiership, indeed, our Premiership records are identical with both teams having won seven games and drawn eleven. Therefore, A Fulham win will see Chris Coleman`s side jump above Aston Villa in the table.
Aston Villa arrive in London with only one away Premiership win (at Everton) all season and have lost their last six matches away from home. However, our own form isn`t too sparkling either with Fulham having lost four of their last five games in all competitions. More importantly, a defeat against Villa would condemn Fulham to three Premiership defeats on the trot, something that hasn`t happened since March last year.
However, despite both clubs recent poor form, there should be a few goals on Saturday. Aston Villa haven`t kept a clean sheet in their last seven games on their travels whilst our own defence has shown a remarkable susceptibility to conceded on a regular basis in recent weeks.
Strangely enough, whilst Fulham have been active in recent weeks, Aston Villa have not played for three weeks, enticing their manager, Martin O`Neill to remark,
'We haven't played for so long, and it is like starting over again.
'We are still in a position to look over our shoulder, but also we have found that the sides in front of us have not gone miles clear.
'It is all to play for and it is up to us now to try and win a game.'
With two defeats in the Premiership on the trot, Coleman might be inclined to make a few changes, however, the display against Manchester United warranted a lot more, with regard to points, than was achieved. Therefore with Vincenzo Montella serving the second game of his three match suspension, there may not be the chance to make too many changes. One switch could result in Radzinski being replaced by Heidar Helguson, if so it will see Helguson make his fiftieth Premiership appearance. Another player who could be recalled is Mark Pembridge. If so, he too will notch up a milestone by making his 400th Premiership appearance. One certainty to start is Liam Rosenior who, unless he is struck down by illness overnight, will continue with his record of playing every minute of every Premiership game this season.
After rightly tipping Brian McBride to grab the Fulham honours last week, this week I thought I`d thought I`d take a punt on young Liam Rosenior. In the space of a very short period of time, Liam has gone from debut boy to first team regular playing every minute of every Premiership game this season. Watch out for his adventurous runs forward as he seeks to get Fulham on the attack.
Martin O` Neill would love his side to reward him with three points so soon after his 55th birthday but it looks to be a tall order. Chris Sutton will definitely be missing from his squad after falling foul to a similar eye problem that befell Paul Scholes last season. Elsewhere, personal milestones could be achieved by both Thomas Sorensen and Gary Cahill. Sorensen, if selected, will be making his 300th appearance in the English league whilst Cahill will be notching up his fiftieth career start. Aston Villa left-back Wilfred Bouma has recovered from an ankle injury and is available for Martin O'Neill. Luke Moore is back in action, but Patrik Berger, Jlloyd Samuel and Stuart Taylor are all still not available.
Top scorer for Villa with nine goals, eight in the Premiership, Barry has, this season, gate-crashed his way back into the national squad. His all round tenacity enables Barry to play almost anywhere on the pitch but his natural left sided ability makes him a dangerous prospect on the left flank, one to be very wary off.
In the corresponding fixture at Villa Park back in October, the result was, yes you`ve guessed correctly a 1-1 draw. Aston Villa opened the scoring with a converted Barry penalty with Volz getting the equaliser on the stroke of half time. In fixtures at Craven Cottage, Fulham hold the upper hand with eleven wins compare dot the three of Aston Villa with eight games finishing even.
Lee Mason of Lancashire will be taking charge of his eighth Premiership fixture this season. In the previous seven he`s issued sixteen yellow cards and one red.
A tight game but we here at Fulham Vital predict that this time Fulham will edge it 2-1.
After two successive home Premiership games Fulham travel to relegation threatened Wigan next week whilst Aston Villa face beleagured Arsenal at Villa Park.
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Date:Friday March 2 2007
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