Fulham FC vs Aston Villa – Pre-game Assessment

Saturday, February 17th, 15:00 – Craven Cottage

Referee: Lewis Smith

A cornerstone of our impressive number of victories in the first half of the season was the availability of a consistent line-up, yet one that Emery could tweak (e.g., Konsa being selected over Cash at right-back to bolster the size of his backline).

Similarly, the composure of Torres as the primary ball carrier and passer from the backline and the ability of Kamara as a disruptor of opposition forays around our penalty area was reflected in the game stats.  Of course, domination of possession and reduction of opponents’ opportunities does not guarantee a win, but it sure increases one’s odds of taking three points.

Since the game at Brentford, we have been hit by a number of shocks, mostly injuries and it has impacted our composure and confidence.  It was the impact of the concurrent loss of Torres (injury) and Kamara (3 game suspension) that became apparent when we failed to pierce the Sheffield United defense until the 97th minute and only rescued a tie.  That resulted in our home winning streak failing against the league’s cellar dweller.

Four days later, we traveled to Old Trafford and took a comfortable 2-0 lead into the halftime break before making some fundamental errors and we let the Red Devils take all the points.  We seemed to stabilize in recent weeks before suffering disappointing successive losses at home against Newcastle, Chelsea (FA Cup), and Man U while picking up a string of new injuries: Konsa, Duran, Zaniolo, and, most recently. Diego Carlos.

 Now, we have to go on the road to a resurging Fulham with a slightly superior last five game tally than we do, despite being in 12th place (we are surprisingly still in 5th place and five points above Manchester United).

We do, in fact, have reason to believe we can prevail against teams like Fulham.  We still have a world class goalie in Emi Martinez, Pau Torres is penciled in to start, while Jacob Ramsey is coming off his best performance of the season after his early injury recovery.

Matty Cash showed against Rashford that he can handle the best in the league as did Alex Moreno against Garnacho.  Ollie Watkins is overdue a bounce-back performance and McGinn and Luiz always have goal-potential.

Perhaps, the bad news will take the pressure off our Villans and they can play to their potential.

Result Prediction:

Fulham 1, Aston Villa 3

Predicted Villa Line-Up:

With respect to the line-up, I anticipate that Emery will start Bailey, Ramsey, and Diaby based on their Sunday performances. 

Aston Villa: (4, 2, 2, 2) Martínez, Cash, Lenglet, Torres, Moreno, McGinn, Luiz, Bailey, Diaby, Ramsey, Watkins.

Subs: Marschall, Tielemans, Chambers, Iroegbunam, Rogers, Kellyman

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