Aston Villa v Fulham Sat 15:00
A clash between two sides in near opposite strings of form of late, it will be interesting to see which side turns up at the races this Saturday when Fulham travel to Aston Villa at long odds with Betfred, as Villa fans nervously take a look over their shoulders in the Premiership table.
After wallowing in the second half of the table for some months, February and March have been kind to Fulham so far and the Cottagers now find themselves in a deserved eighth place where they managed to finish last season.
Martin Jol’s side are looking to extend their three-match winning streak that comprises an away win against bitter rivals QPR as well as victories over Stoke City and Newcastle whom they battered 5-0.
On loan forward Pavel Pogrebnyak has been a revelation for the West London outfit since arriving from Stuttgart in January.
The striker has scored five goals in his three appearances for Fulham and although those goals may have come from just having five shots in total, the Russian looks to be earning his nickname “Death From Above”.
However, even Pogrebnyak may find it hard to net on Saturday regardless of the fact that he scored the winner at Loftus Road as Fulham currently have the worst attacking form in the Premier League.
Alex McCleish’s Villa haven’t been much more impressive at home and scoring a lowly average of 1.08 goals per game this season when playing on their home turf, have the fifth worst home attack in the English top flight.
The Villans haven’t won a league fixture since January and are currently on a five-game run with a victory and although they are still eight points off the drop zone, relegation is to become a very real threat if they carry on in their current string of performances.
Fans are already looking ahead to next season and with Premiership survival not a foregone conclusion, three points is vital to raise confidence levels around Villa Park and take some of the pressure off boss Alex McLeish.
The Scot does have some injury worries coming into the game however.
Carlos Cuellar is expected to remain in his central partnership with James Collins with Richard Dunne and Ciaran Clark both still out with injury and Gabriel Agbonlahor will lead the front line once more with Darren Bent reportedly out for the remainder of the season, which has come as a bitter blow to the England international’s hopes of making the squad for Euro 2012.
Fulham aren’t expected to welcome anyone back into the fold but have been dealt a defensive blow after it emerged that Aaron Hughes had suffered a minor setback in his recovery and won’t feature this weekend.
Other than that, Martin Jol will field the same side which dismantled Wolves 5-0 last week, and the Cottagers will be hoping of a similar result as they make their trip to the Midlands.