Article

Premier League Preview: Aston Villa v Fulham

3 April 2014 17:21

Fulham will be hoping to take advantage of Christian Benteke's absence when they visit Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday.

Villa announced on Thursday that the Belgium international will miss at least six months with a torn Achilles - ruling him out of the remainder of the season as well his country's FIFA World Cup campaign.

Benteke has scored 10 of Villa's 34 top-flight goals this term, and finished as the club's top marksman in 2012-13 - his first campaign at the club following his move from Genk.

But while the 23-year-old's injury represents a huge blow for Villa, it boosts Fulham's hopes of picking up one of the four wins from their remaining six matches that Fulham manager Felix Magath has targeted for survival.

The German is Fulham's third manager this season, after Martin Jol and Rene Meulensteen, but the Craven Cottage faithful have seen no change in fortunes since his arrival in February as they remain rooted to the foot of the table.

With 32 games played and just one win in their last 12 league games, Fulham are five points from safety and Magath has set his players a goal to avoid dropping into the Championship.

"I think that four wins are enough to stay in the league and, with six outstanding games, we are able to do that," the former Bayern Munich boss said.

That would appear to be a big ask of a side that has won just seven times all season, although their run-in sees them come up against just one team in the top half, Tottenham, who have been in inconsistent form in recent weeks.

This weekend sees Fulham visit Villa Park, looking to reverse a trend of disappointing results on the road, with just two points taken from seven matches since a 2-1 win at Norwich City on Boxing Day.

Fulham can take some comfort from the fact they are facing a Villa side who have been thumped 4-1 on their last two outings - at home to Stoke City and away at Manchester United - after taking early leads in both games.

Following a run of one point from four matches, back-to-back wins over Norwich City and Chelsea looked to have turned the tide, before those two heavy losses dampened spirits - with the news about Benteke only likely to have soured the mood at Villa Park further.

Currently sitting 12th, eight points clear of the bottom three, Lambert's men look safe from the threat of relegation, but will be keen to take maximum points on Saturday to kick-start a strong finish to the campaign.

As well as the blow regarding Benteke, Villa have doubts over Karim El Ahmadi (thigh) and Gabriel Agbonlahor (illness).

The visitors will be without Darren Bent, who is ineligible to play against his parent club, but Fernando Amorebieta is available again after serving a one-match suspension.

Magath said on Thursday that midfielder Scott Parker could return after a knee injury, but Kostas Mitroglou remains sidelined with a knee problem of his own.

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Info

1 - 2

Competition
Premier League
Date
5 April 2014
Game week
33
Kick-off
16:00
Half-time
0 - 0
Full-time
1 - 2
Venue
Villa Park (Birmingham)
Attendance
33532

Goals

0 - 1
61' K. Richardson
 (assist by A. Dejagah)
G. Holt 70'
(assist by M. Albrighton) 
1 - 1
1 - 2
86' H. Rodallega
 (assist by L. Holtby)

Lineups

# Player Bookings
1
4
23
3 59'
34
2
15 67'
12 90+1'
7
29 70'
10
Coach: P. Lambert

Substitutes

# Player Bookings
24
21
6
13
14
18
37
# Player Bookings
20 86'
24
3
6
1
11
26

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