It’s crunch time for Fulham. Defeat by Everton at Craven Cottage last Sunday left Felix Magath’s side five points from safety with just six Premier League games to play. Add their poor goal difference to the mix, plus that relegation rivals Sunderland, West Brom and Crystal Palace all have games in hand and it’s clear to see why bookmakers believe Fulham’s 13-year stay in the Premier League will come to an end at the end of the season. Put simply, it’s time to win. Now.
Fulham have conceded 73 goals in the league - more than any other side - and have struggled in attack too, averaging less than a goal a game. In recent weeks, Magath has picked youngsters Cauley Woodrow and Moussa Dembele up front, leaving Darren Bent - ineligible against his parent club this weekend - on the bench.
While Fulham have disappointed, Aston Villa have been consistent and will feel they need at least three more points to ensure Premier League safety. Paul Lambert’s side were impressive against Chelsea in mid-March, but have conceded eight goals in their last two fixtures - at home to Stoke and away at Manchester United.
Christian Benteke has scored three in his last four games, and should have been on target at Old Trafford last weekend too. Villa’s top scorer has scored 10 league goals and could prove the difference against a leaky defence.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS:
Fulham 2 (Sidwell, Berbatov pen) Aston Villa 0, Premier League, December 2013
Aston Villa 1 (N’Zogbia) Fulham 1 (Delph og), Premier League, April 2013
Fulham 1 (Baird) Aston Villa 0, Premier League, October 2012
Fulham have not won at Villa in their last 12 attempts. Their last success was in January 1999, a 2-0 FA Cup fourth round win.
Felix Magath’s reign at Fulham has yielded only four points from six games.
Victory for Villa would see them match their home points tally from last season (20).
Villa have won out of their last three home matches.
Aston Villa to win: 1.90
Fulham to win: 4.00
TV: Highlights on BBC1 at 10.25pm.