The “Villa” have had a disappointing start to the season with defeats against Liverpool and a draw against Newcastle (although that was no mean feat away at St. James’), but they must surely fancy a good result against a Fulham team who are one of the worst travellers in the league.
While Martin O’Neil has no new injury worries, he will still be without the services of Thomas Sorensen and Patrik Berger, who while back in full training, are no where near match fit. O’Neil is starting to put a good team together with the likes of Reo-Coker, Petrov, Carew and Bouma, not to mention the new England Under 21 international Agbonlahor, but it seems to be taking some time to bed down.
The club’s American owner has been fairly generous with his cash, and while there is more in the transfer kitty prior to the close of the transfer window, he must surely be expecting a return on his investment very soon?
After saving the club from relegation last year, Lawrie Sanchez needs to do something about their dire away form. However, he will be missing Brian McBrive, Bouazza, Nieme and Aaron Hughes, although new signing Diomansy Kamara should make his debut, with back up Keeper Kasey Keller warming the bench. Again Fulham are a club who have also seen their owner invest substantial funds, and while there is no danger to Sanchez’s position in the short term, he needs to build on last season heroics.
You have to say that on paper it would seem like a pretty certain home win, and while nothing is ever easy in football, Fulham look as if they have it all to do. Their record at Villa Park is as dire as their current away form, and they have not recorded a victory at the ground since 1966 – the year England won the world cup!
While O’Neil would have been heartened by their point at Newcastle, a game in which they seem to have had their chances to win, he needs to put together an early run to ensure they are n’t dragged into an early season scramble at the bottom. Last season for was patchy, but the arrival of giant striker John Carew seemed to offer something of a turning point and the big man makes an excellent target figure.
While Fulham will no doubt have their moments, I fully expect a more hungry Aston Villa team to take the game to Fulham and pull out a much needed win.
Forecast : Home Win