Fulham v Aston Villa preview
Last Updated: October 20, 2012 2:07pm
Paul Lambert: Has endured a shaky start to his reign as Villa boss
Aston Villa will be desperate to ignite their season when their Premier League campaign resumes with a trip to Fulham on Saturday.
Villa headed into the international break with just one win from their opening seven league encounters to leave them 16th in the table and just two points ahead of Reading, who are in the relegation zone.
They visit Craven Cottage on the back of a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham last time out - their fourth loss of the season so far - and manager Paul Lambert will be hoping they can put their shaky start behind them in West London.
Fulham will be looking to return to winning ways after sharing the spoils with top-flight newcomers Southampton in their last encounter and suffering defeat at home by reigning champions Manchester City the week before.
Despite that two-game winless run, the Cottagers remain ninth in the table and five points clear of their visitors ahead of Saturday's clash.
Villa could face a testing afternoon against a Fulham side who have won two of their three opening home games this term, having seen off Norwich and West Brom.
But Martin Jol's men will not take much comfort from their recent record against Villa, having won none of their last six meetings with the Midlanders, and losing three.
Dimitar Berbatov is amongst the players Fulham can welcome back for Saturday's clash.
The Bulgarian returns from a problem with his hip/upper thigh and will be joined in Jol's side by fellow striker Mladen Petric, who has recovered from a calf problem.
Mahamadou Diarra's recovery from a knee injury means he could also be involved, although Simon Davies (hip) remains sidelined and Bryan Ruiz (groin) is a doubt.
Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland will return to the squad after missing three games with a broken bone in his arm.
Manager Paul Lambert will assess the freshness of goalkeeper Brad Guzan and midfielders Brett Holman and Karim El Ahmadi after gruelling midweek trips back from playing for the United States, Australia and Morocco respectively.
Full-back Joe Bennett is expected to be fit after suffering a leg injury during the 2-0 defeat at Tottenham a fortnight ago - but central defender Richard Dunne (groin) remains a long-term casualty.
- Five points from seven games is Aston Villa's worst ever start to a Premier League campaign.
- Fulham have conceded six goals from set pieces this season including four from corners - both are league-highs.
- Villa have won just one of their last seven Premier League visits to London (W1 D2 L4), including losing twice in the capital already this season.
Previous game's starting line-ups
- 1 Schwarzer
- 27 Riether
- 4 Senderos
- 5 Hangeland
- 3 Riise JA
- 16 Duff
- 12 Frimpong
- 31 Kacaniklic
- 33 Enoh
- 9 Berbatov
- 11 Ruiz
Team taken from Fulham vs Swansea (Barclays Premier League) on Sunday 19th May 2013
- 22 Guzan
- 34 Lowton
- 4 Vlaar
- 32 Baker
- 27 Bennett
- 18 Sylla
- 15 Westwood
- 16 Delph
- 26 Weimann
- 9 Bent
- 11 Agbonlahor
Team taken from A Villa vs Wigan (Barclays Premier League) on Sunday 19th May 2013
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Bromwich Albion||38||49|
|10||West Ham United||38||46|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||38||25|
Fulham v Aston Villa
Darren Bent will respect whatever decisions are made by Paul Lambert, but admits he would like to play regularly.
Chris Baird could not hide his delight after scoring six minutes from time to sink Aston Villa
Paul Lambert was left a frustrated figure after watching his side go down to a late Chris Baird goal