Aston Villa vs. Fulham, Saturday April 13

Discussion in 'Fulham FC News and Notes' started by BarryWhite, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. BarryWhite

    BarryWhite Well-Known Member

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    Here we sit looking at another weekend where our beloved White’s will be facing a team that could quite easily slip into what is widely believed to be the lone unreserved 2012-2013 relegation slot. Reading fans should be booking their Championship season tickets. Their club hold the worst goal differential, sit eight points behind both Sunderland and Wigan and face a difficult season close that looks like a gauntlet which should only yield up a few stingy points in their favor. The picture is not much brighter for QPR who sit only one point above Reading. At least QPR fans can hold out a glimmer of hope with a stretch run that includes an away match against Reading and home matches against Stoke and Newcastle who to date have only managed two away wins this season between them. Unless either QPR or Reading buck their season long funk and manage a change in form that defies all odds Villa only need to keep themselves above one other squad to avoid the drop.

    As I look at the remaining matches for those nervous nellies near the nether regions of the table the decision as to who goes down could easily fall to Villa’s final match of the season against Wigan. Taking into account the home or away records of their opponents Villa and Wigan have by far the most difficult season close of all the clubs sitting near that damning 18th spot in the table. Wigan, who is currently sitting eighteenth, has to be the favorites to make the drop. In their next five matches they face teams that have won 49% their matches when trended by location before facing Villa on the road in the season finale. After getting a crack at Swansea at home this weekend Wigan will face clubs who have accumulated 7, 9, 9 and 9 wins when trended for home or away matches.

    Villa on the other hand are sitting close enough to the drop zone to know that if they don’t pull at least 4 to 6 points from their next five matches the season finale could come against a club who will have a chance to leapfrog them in the standings and a club that has somehow managed to evade the relegation axe in recent seasons. The question for Villa is where do those points come from? Manchester United has only allowed one squad to walk away with points from their home pitch and I would not tip them to concede to Villa. Norwich has only lost three times at home this season and Chelsea is likely to be fighting for a Champion’s League position. A point may be in play during these matches but will not be easily taken. If I were a Villa fan the matches I would have highlighted on the fixture list are Fulham and Sunderland both of whom Villa will face at home.

    So, here we go again. For Fulham it is another weekend against another club who will enter this match with a must win attitude. Villa is not the dominant home side that Newcastle is and I don’t expect Villa to present the constant attacking threat Fulham faced during the second half of last week’s match. I do, however, expect Villa to enter the match with the same fight to the final whistle attitude Fulham saw from both Newcastle and QPR.

    In the earlier season match at the Cottage Fulham walked away a 1-0 victor thanks to a Chris Baird header from a John Arne Riise corner. Fulham were the better squad on the day and deserved the points with only a fine effort from Brad Guzan keeping the match close but on another day Guzan’s efforts might have been awarded with a share of the points as Christian Benteke knocked a skidding cross wide from six yards out.

    Missing the back of the net is not something Benteke has done often of late. If Berbatov has been Fulham’s goal scoring hero this season Benteke must be reaching near cult status at Villa Park where goals have been hard to come by. Berbatov has been both sublime and proficient for Fulham scoring or assisting on thirty-seven percent of our tallies but Benteke has been even more spectacular by involving himself in a stunning fifty-four percent of Villa’s goals. Without Benteke’s fifteen goals and four assists I have little doubt that Villa would be firmly entrenched in the bottom three just as I have little doubt who Fulham’s defense will be keen to keep under wraps this weekend.

    On the defensive end Villa have been beyond shaky and share the Fulhamish trait of conceding in the second half of matches. In fact, I should quite rightly refer to it as the Villanish trait to concede in the second half since Villa have allowed an incredible forty second-half goals compared to only nineteen first half goals conceded. If Villa is not careful the goal total of fifteen allowed in the final fifteen minutes of play may catch their total goals allowed during the first halves of play.

    With Fulham’s list of injured/suspended midfielders I am not sure what to expect with regard to a starting eleven. With Sidwell and Diarra out and the status of Enoh and Dejagah unknown Fulham may need to reach deep into the well and give either Frei a run out on the left wing or Urby a role in the center of the pitch to infuse some offensive creativity into the line-up. I am not sure if I expect a high shooting affair that will keep us on the edge of our seats or for both teams to sit back and wait for the other to make a mistake offering us a chance for a snooze fest. Three points will be there for the offering on Saturday and while I am sure Villa will be foaming at the mouth to devour them I am never quite sure what Fulham team will show up on the road. With Fulham's injuries and Villa's lack of goal scoring firepower I am thinking a 1-1 draw is as likely as any result. What do you think?

    Things to watch for
    Can Fulham overcome its injury woes to field a team with enough offensive firepower to take advantage of Villa’s defensive frailties?

    Will Berbatov or Benteke shine brighter on the day?
     
    #1
  2. emiusaberbo

    emiusaberbo Member

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    Berbatov and Manolev will shine. What time is the game?
     
    #2
  3. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

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    0900 central, although it's tape delayed until 1399 central
     
    #3
  4. SoCalJoe

    SoCalJoe Well-Known Member

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    Great preview Barry, I've seen a couple of Villa's games recently and the one thing that seems to be apparent is that the supporters are on board and are up for the fight. It's kind of a strange phenomena, but you've seen it where the fans of certain teams are actually a hindrance with a 'waiting for the sky to fall' attitude. As soon as a team gives up a goal, the black cloud forms over the team atmospheric wise. Look no further than Stoke or Sunderland as examples where their supporters ain't exactly helping, those people seem to have their knives out and looking for blood. You would expect at a club with the history of Aston Villa that their fans would be ready to turn on the squad, but during the games I've watched the support has lifted the team. Go back to our Great Escape and the support was tremendous. What this means for Sat., I'm not sure, but we better be ready to go energy wise. The Villians back 4 has been prone to horrendous errors, and they've asked Guzan to bale them out time and again. Hoping Jol will infuse the team with some of the little pace we have now that Dejagah which means that i hope to see Hugo and Frei run at them.
     
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  5. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

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    They are playing all out. I love their commitment. Agbonlahor's pace will be a problem, especially as it is now being used with a purpose. Villa's defense is still suspect, but Guzan has been massive for them.

    I'm figuring 1-1. I'm really looking forward to this game. It's a shame that I have to wait until 1 o'clock to watch it.
     
    #5
  6. SoCalJoe

    SoCalJoe Well-Known Member

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    MJ's preview from the offal;

    http://www.fulhamfc.com/news/2013/april ... ager-video

    A few things I take out of it; Jol really rates Enoh, and if he can go he will be in. Manolev must be a character because Jol had a little laugh about him always telling the boss he can play the flank, and he will probably start opposite Duffer. Jol stressed that he wanted to make as few changes as possible for Newcastle, so doubtful he'll change much at Villa Park either.
     
    #6
  7. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

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    If you think Goodison is a bogey park for us, take a look at Villa Park. Going back to 01-02, we are 0-4-7 there in the Prem. I'm not always a fan of historical stats b/c it's different players, different managers, etc, but when it comes to winning at certain grounds, they actually tend to hold some weight for Fulham. More recently, we've lost 3 of our last 5 there.

    Villa's stats are deceptive as there's a bit of a gulf in the overall and what they've done in the last couple of months. While Benteke is a large part of their offense, they've gotten Agbonlahor on track as well. He's got 3 goals & an assist in their last 4 and has netted 5 goals in their last 10. Their pace (combined with decent size) will likely give us some trouble at the back. Their midfield is somewhat smallish, young and prone to turnover. If we put their midfield under pressure at the point of attack (something we don't do much of) we should be able to control the midfield, thus possession, and ultimately play our game. Guzan has rallied the back, but they're still prone to mistakes and shipping goals. Villa hasn't put up a clean sheet since a 0-0 draw with Stoke back in December. However, Villa have not struggled scoring goals, averaging right around 2 per match since Feb.

    Fulham have been the opposite. Our goal scoring has dried up a bit, but our scoring defense has been strong. On the road, Jol seems like to play our game for the first 15 or so minutes of each half and then drop back into a counter attack offense. The more pressure a team puts us under, and the higher up the pitch they do it (with success), the sooner he seems to fall back into the counter. The key to our offense is getting the ball to Ruiz and Berbatov and the deeper we're able to do that, the more we threaten the other team (threaten as in actual :shock: shots). With Dejagah out, our ability to hit on the counter seems to have diminished. I think we may see Manolev again and I hope we do. He tried to get forward v Newcastle but too often looked out of control racing down the side with the ball at his feet. I'd imagine that was largely down to nerves, so I'd like to see him get another shot at it as I think he's probably our best bet for countering. I'd say Frei as well, but we haven't seen him in forever and I don't know if he's played much football outside of the reserves of late. Of course, that will mean Ruiz and Berbatov get up the pitch quickly as well and that hasn't always happened. I like our defense but as good as they've been, we've had a fair amount of good fortune (woodwork, shots pulled wide from good scoring positions). If we keep giving up 20 shots a game, that luck is liable to run out.

    Jol doesn't tend to have us dictate matches, so I think it's going to come down to whether Lambert has bothered watching any tape on us. If he has and they pressure our midfielders at the center of the pitch, I think we'll lose 1-2. If he doesn't, we probably pull out a draw, likely 2-2 or 1-1.
     
    #7
  8. sullytex

    sullytex Member

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    Location:
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    I was over in the UK a few weeks ago and caught Reading (my company's HQ) v Villa at the Mad. Fulham were supposed to play Chelsea on Sunday, but it was postponed.

    This was one of the crappest football matches I have ever attended. Reading look absolute shite. Villa, not all that much better, but clearly better than Reading. Benteke looked good, and scored, he has been pretty much on fire lately. I would have preferred to have gone to another match, but I was leaving on Sunday morning and as mentioned, Fulham were off. But beggars can't be choosers, so I take advantage to see any EPL games while across the pond. Good thing we hit the pub prior to this one. Eased the pain a bit.

    Even away, we should handle Villa. I have a hatred of Villa park. I asked the guy prior to going into the grounds if the away concessions had beer. Sure mate. Get up there over an hour plus to kick off and all there was were soft drinks, crappy coffee, and tea. Bastard. We lost as well. However, both teams were in Europa, actually Villa just got the boot and we were still on our magical run to the final, so we all sang "we're all going on a european tour, european tour, europeant tour" as loud as we could. Got quite a few two finger salutes and wank off motions. Made the trip up from Henley worth it.
     
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  9. nevzter

    nevzter Well-Known Member

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    Great comments above. I think it will come down to keepers as Villa will sneak a few good chances and Fulham will put a few on goal as well. Given injuries, Frei may see some time. Urby. Fantastic name - love it. Is he hurt? Ok, stream of consciousness post ended.

    Come on, MS!!!

    COYW!!!
     
    #9
  10. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

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    Fulham - Schwarzer; Riether, Senderos, Hangeland, Richardson; Duff, Karagounis, Enoh, Emanuelson; Ruiz; Berbatov
    bench - Etheridge, Riise, Hughes, Frimpong, Manolev, Rodallega, Petric

    Aston Villa - Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett; Bowery, Delph, Westwood, N’Zogbia; Weimann, Benteke
    bench - Given, Clark, El Ahmadi, Holman, Sylla, Dawkins, Bent

    No Agbonlahor for AV. Richardson and Emanuelson in for Riise and Manolev. Looks like we're setting up the team to be better on the counter. Rich and Urby could be an adventure on defense.

    I'm going to watch the delay on tv. I'll check into the chat at game time if anyone else is doing the same and wants to join me.
     
    #10
  11. SoCalJoe

    SoCalJoe Well-Known Member

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    Thanks to sacffc in the chat for continually finding links. Watching a few minutes of the tape delay and Villa were the better team in the first half. Thought the lads played a decent second, and wasted a few golden opportunities. All in all a point to get us to 40, and a quick turnaround to our makeup game v the Undead mid-week.
     
    #11
  12. sullytex

    sullytex Member

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    Mixed game. We looked good at times, moving the ball around, creating a couple of chances. Then times where I thought Villa were going to put in 2 or 3. I did not catch the last 30 minutes so things may have looked different. Take the point. Take the magical 40 points threshold. Let just see if we can stay in the top 10.
     
    #12
  13. sullytex

    sullytex Member

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    Oh yeah, have not heard how bad Duffers injury was. Didn't look horrible, but it was obvious once he tweaked that groin, he was done.
     
    #13
  14. timmyg

    timmyg Well-Known Member

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    Nov 20, 2006
    Anytime we're on the road, down 3 starters, at a club fighting for it's life, you gotta take the point. Saturday was no different.
     
    #14
  15. BarryWhite

    BarryWhite Well-Known Member

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    I thought it was an exciting second half of football. Wide open attack-minded, edge of the seat performance from both sides. Either side could have claimed all three and a point was probably not an unfair result as both sides spurned a few opportunities.
     
    #15
  16. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

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    The theme for this season should be "I'd rather be lucky than good". Outshot yet again, 0 shots on target, 1-1 draw. Agree, we threatened more in the 2nd half and played some more entertaining stuff, especially after Petric came on and made some runs. But the first half was brutal.

    Our cm's really need to work on protecting the back four. I counted 3 times (including the goal) when Villa got 5 men in our box. Karagounis and Enoh were nowhere to be found on any of them.
     
    #16
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