Martin Jol’s Fulham entertain an Aston Villa side managed by Paul Lambert, who is a man desperate to return Villa to their former glory. Villa sit 16th in the Premier League and travel to Craven Cottage to face a Fulham side who are comfortably in the top half and playing some good football.
Lambert made the move from Norwich City to Villa Park this summer, having guided the Canaries from League One to the Premier League and maintaining their top-flight status after the first season. Norwich have found this season troublesome, but the same can be said for Villa who are a team in transition under the Scotsman. Villa are now three games without victory and are struggling for goals with only six scored in their seven games so far.
One man Lambert will look to for that clinical edge is Belgian international Christian Benteke. The 21 year old was signed for £7m from Genk and has scored once in the four games he has played so far. Benteke got two goals during the international break and is expected to lead the line for Villa against Fulham with the aim of securing his place as top striker at Villa Park ahead of Darren Bent. Lambert hopes that Stephen Ireland will be back for the trip to London having missed the last two games with a cracked bone in his wrist.
Fulham have plenty of attacking options with Dimitar Berbatov and Mladen Petric back in contention following injury, as well as Hugo Rodallega looking for a place up front. However, Jol could be without winger Bryan Ruiz who injured his thigh during Costa Rica’s 1-0 win over El Salvador during the international break. Fulham drew 2-2 at Southampton with a late equaliser costing Jol’s side points for the third time in their last three fixtures.
Craven Cottage has only seen one Fulham defeat and that was a late goal from Sergio Aguero to give Manchester City victory. Fulham have scored nine goals in front of their home fans so far this season and could be expecting more goals at Craven Cottage against a weak Aston Villa outfit. The Cottagers look to have coped with the losses of Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele and Jol’s side will be eager on strengthening their position in the top-half of the table.