Aston Villa host Fulham on Saturday as they look to get back to winning ways after a return to form was unceremoniously halted by Manchester United on Tuesday. In the last two meetings between the sides Villa travelled to Craven Cottage, dominating much of the game and gained the lead after a sublime ball from Barry Bannan found Marc Albrighton who finished with aplomb. However, the goalscorer turned villain when needlessly giving away a free-kick which was eventually headed home by Brede Hangeland. New loan signing Michael Bradley has been awarded international clearance to make his home debut but an impressive display from fellow newcomer Jean Makoun against United may well keep the American on the bench. If history is anything to go by Villa have a good chance in this one after Fulham have only won three times in their last 19 visits to Villa Park. For full injury news and team updates read the
The selection of player’s at Gerard Houllier’s disposal have certainly grown in size and quality in recent weeks and with injury problems at a minimum the Frenchman has, and is set to make some tough decisions on his starting XI. In fact the only real injury worry continues to be Luke Young with the right back’s knee injury having lasted longer than first expected.
Houllier finds himself inundated with centre-midfielders after going through a spell of having just kids available. The Frenchman must choose two from Makoun, set to start after an impressive passing display last time out, Bradley who has just obtained international clearance to play, Reo-Coker, Petrov, Pires, Bannan and Delph who has recently recovered from a knee problem. One would suggest that having not had the chance to train with the first team squad that it may be a game too soon for Bradley.
The defence were slightly shaky again last time out with young full-backs Kyle Walker and makeshift left-back Ciaran Clark struggling against the likes of Nani and Giggs. Carlos Cuellar will be hoping to regain a place in the team after being dropped despite consistently assured displays but competition from Dunne and Collins may see the Spaniard have to settle for a right-back role.
Gabby Agbonlahor’s record against Fulham will throw him back into contention after being dropped against United, having scored 3 in his last 2 against the Cottagers. However, Darren Bent is almost a dead cert to start having scored 2 in his first 3 games for the club and Emile Heskey will be hoping to challenge after suspension forced him out with Nathan Delfouneso also available.
Dickson Etuhu is out for the London club along with the likes of long-term absentees Bobby Zamora and Phillipe Senderos. Loan signings Gael Kakuta and Eidur Gudjohnsen are both available for a first start under Mark Hughes. Steve Sidwell is set to start against his old club for the first time since leaving last month and will be hoping to show Gerard Houllier just what he’s missing alongside Fulham’s top scorer and main threat Clint Dempsey.
Possible Starting XI: Friedel; Warnock, Collins, Dunne, Walker; Agbonlahor, Makoun, Bannan, Downing; A Young; Bent
Key Man: Jean Makoun
Goalscorer(s): Bent, Agbonlahor
Final Score: 2-0
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