Two former Championship teams battle it out for much needed points
Fulham 1-1 Aston Villa
Aston Villa fans will still want an element of revenge after Fulham beat them to Premier League promotion two years ago, although their positions changed a season later with Fulham going straight back down and Villa tasting promotion themselves.
It’s Villa who appear the more secure club at present, making strong signings in the transfer window while tying down their best player Jack Grealish to a new contract.
They have much to improve upon in order to avoid a scramble for survival like last season, but they’re heading in the right direction.
On the other hand, Fulham are once again favourites to go straight back down to the Championship, especially after losing their first two games of the season.
Villa have a real opportunity to get one over Fulham here, by sending them to their third defeat from as many games, but the game itself will be a tight one.
Predicted 2020/21 finish: 20th
Reasons to be cheerful:
Have strong recent record over Villa
Were close to an equaliser against Leeds
Reasons to be fearful:
Need to get points quickly or morale will drop
Villa have strengthened whereas Fulham have not
Despite coming close to grabbing a point in a frantic game against Leeds last weekend, Fulham will have done nothing to ease fans’ fears that relegation is on the cards this season.
Other than Southampton, who have not even scored a goal this season, Fulham have suffered the worst start of any club in the league. Manager Scott Parker has warned that this will be a tough season and consecutive defeats are unavoidable for a newly promoted club.
But games against teams like Villa are how their season will really be defined and they must see this as a chance to get points on the board.
Topscorer Mitrovic got his first goals of the season against Leeds and will fancy his chances against Villa’s defence.
They must come into this game all guns blazing as three games without a point could spell disaster.
Star Man – Aleksandar Mitrović
Two goals against Leeds to start his account this season will boost his confidence for this one.
Predicted 2020/21 finish: 11th
Reasons to be cheerful
Started the season positively with a win
New signings seem to be settling in well
Reasons to be fearful
Beaten Fulham only twice since 2012
Villa have not kept a clean sheet away from home in 26 attempts
Aston Villa fans will be feeling quietly confident at how they have started the season and there is some positivity around the club after surviving by the skin of their teeth on the final day of last term.
They’ve won all of their competitive matches so far, two in the Carabao Cup and importantly in the league against Sheffield United.
Excitingly for Villa fans, club record signing Ollie Watkins has scored twice so far, showing how quickly he has settled at the club.
They cannot afford to get too far ahead of themselves, of course. They will still have difficult patches to navigate this season, and they must set about fixing their poor defensive record away from home – they are without a clean sheet since 2016.
This will be a tight game, though their superior attack could settle it.
Star Man – Jack Grealish
Still the heartbeat of this team, everything goes through him. His link up play with Watkins will be key.
A low-scoring match between two sides wanting to avoid defeat
Aston Villa will play confidently, having won all their matches
Fulham must get Mitrovic into good areas
Despite these two teams having unreliable defences, this game will be tighter than many are imagining.
Neither will want to lose the match, for Fulham the consequences could be devastating.
Both sides will take a point here, though in Mitrovic and Watkins, they each have players who can grab a win if the chances present themselves.
Fulham 1-1 Aston Villa