Football: Weekend guide to the Premiership: Monday Night's Game (8.0); Charlton v Aston Villa

Last season: No fixture
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The Independent Online
TWO SIDES that have tasted life at the top of the Premiership this season meet at The Valley on Monday having experienced contrasting recent pasts. Charlton, surprise League leaders in August, albeit briefly, have won just one of their last eight League games. Manager Alan Curbishley kept his players in the dressing room for more than an hour and a half after last week's 3-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday and Addicks supporters can only hope that whatever he said will do some good today. Their task will not be an easy one, however, as Monday's visitors are Aston Villa, not only the current Premiership leaders but also a side hitting a rich vein of form against some of the division's toughest opponents.

Last Sunday's 3-2 home win over Double-winners Arsenal followed a draw with Manchester United, but was all the more impressive given that Villa were 2-0 down at half-time. The retrieval showed that John Gregory's men not only have the kind of flair demonstrated by Dion Dublin's nine goals in seven games for his new club, but also the kind of fighting spirit needed to wage a successful title campaign. Charlton are not an easy side to beat at home but they will not be relishing this fixture.

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