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MATCH PREVIEW ~ Fulham visit Aston Villa ~ Prem MD31 20/21

last updated Sunday 04th April 2021, 10:16 PM

Match Preview

Aston Villa v Fulham

Premier League Match Day 31 2021 Villa Park

Sunday 4th April 2021    KO: 16:30

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)

Live on Sky Sports

Fulham Coach Scott Parker
Fulham Coach
Scott Parker
Scott Parker
His Wiki page
Aston Villa Coach Dean Smith
Aston Villa Coach
Dean Smith
His Wiki page
Fulham take on Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday, away at Villa Park, desperately looking for a victory which could take them out of the relegation zone.

Fulham will be desperate to bounce back after suffering damaging back-to-back defeats against Manchester City and Leeds prior to the international break.

Currently lying two points behind 17th-placed Newcastle United, who also have a game in hand on Scott Parker's side, time is running out for the Cottagers to pull off an excellent escape from relegation having looked destined for the drop early in the campaign.

Parker could have no complaints with either defeat, with uncharacteristic soft defending costing his side dearly across both games. Patrick Bamford fired Marcelo Bielsa's side ahead with a powerful finish after Tosin Adarabioyo had lost the in-form forward in the penalty area, before Raphinha pulled the visitors ahead again after Joachim Andersen had equalised from a corner.

Three of Fulham's remaining eight fixtures are against members of the traditional Big Six (Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United), so every match represents a cup final for Parker's side between now and the end of the campaign in their quest to survive what would be a third relegation to the Championship in only eight seasons. They would certainly receive a major boost should Grealish's name be absent from Villa's starting XI once again.

Aston Villa may need to avoid defeat to remain in the top half of the table for another match-day depending on how Leeds United fare against Sheffield United on Saturday.

Indeed, Villa have only won one of their last seven matches to fall to 10th in the table, with the absence of their injured talisman Jack Grealish hitting Dean Smith's side hard during that period.

The Villains have scored only three goals in the six matches the England midfielder has missed with a shin injury, but Grealish could finally be fit to return and provide a timely boost against Fulham on Sunday.

Villa started brightly against Tottenham Hotspur last time out but lacked an offensive cutting edge once again, with Carlos Vinicius applying the finishing touch to a fine team move from the visitors. Harry Kane and Lucas Moura proved a little too hot for Villa's defence to handle on the day, with Kane doubling Spurs' lead from the penalty spot after Matty Cash had needlessly brought the England captain down.

One man who should return from the international break full of confidence is Ollie Watkins. The Villa striker has failed to score for his club since Grealish was injured, but the 25-year-old joined the one cap, one goal club for England - for the time being at least - after scoring against San Marino on his international debut last week.

Head to head
  • Fulham's only away league victory against Villa in 17 attempts came in their most recent top-flight visit seven years ago.

  • Aston Villa can win both league matches against Fulham in the same season for the first time since 2009-10.
  • Fulham are currently on a club top-flight record run of eight consecutive away matches without defeat, including two wins out of the past four.

  • They can keep three consecutive Premier League away clean sheets for the first time since their top-flight record of four in a row between November and December 2008.

  • However, Fulham have lost three of their past four league fixtures, as many as they had in their previous 15.

  • They must beat Villa to have any chance of ending a round of fixtures outside the relegation zone for the first time in four months.
Aston Villa
  • Villa need one point to reach their highest tally in a Premier League campaign for a decade.

  • They have only managed one victory in seven league games - and four in 15 since Boxing Day.

  • Aston Villa can go five matches without a win in all competitions for the first time this season.

  • Dean Smith's side haven't scored more than once in any of their past 10 top-flight fixtures, managing just six goals in total.

  • They kept a clean sheet in 11 of their 12 league victories this season but have only avoided defeat in two of the 13 matches in which they conceded a goal.

  • Emiliano Martinez is one short of matching Villa's Premier League record for most clean sheets by a goalkeeper in a season: 15 by Brad Friedel in 2009-10.

  • Ollie Watkins has gone seven league appearances without a goal, failing to score with any of his last 17 shots.

  • Matt Targett, who played 18 Championship matches on loan for Fulham in 2017-18, could make his 100th Premier League appearance on Sunday.

Source Brett Curtis at SportsMole/BBCSports
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