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Preview: Aston Villa vs. Fulham - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League clash between Aston Villa and Fulham, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Aston Villa take on Fulham in the Premier League on Sunday, with the visitors desperately looking for a victory which could take them out of the relegation zone.

Villa, meanwhile, may need to avoid defeat to remain in the top half of the table for another matchday, depending on how Leeds United fare against Sheffield United on Saturday.


Match preview

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith pictured on February 27, 2021© Reuters

Villa have only won one of their last seven matches to fall to 10th in the table, with the absence of their injured talisman Jack Grealish hitting Dean Smith's side hard during that period.

The Villains have scored only three goals in the six matches the England midfielder has missed with a shin injury, but Grealish could finally be fit to return and provide a timely boost against Fulham on Sunday.

Villa started brightly against Tottenham Hotspur last time out but lacked an offensive cutting edge once again, with Carlos Vinicius applying the finishing touch to a fine team move from the visitors.

Harry Kane and Lucas Moura proved a little too hot for Villa's defence to handle on the day, with Kane doubling Spurs' lead from the penalty spot after Matty Cash had needlessly brought the England captain down.

One man who should return from the international break full of confidence is Ollie Watkins. The Villa striker has failed to score for his club since Grealish was injured, but the 25-year-old joined the one cap, one goal club for England - for the time being at least - after scoring against San Marino on his international debut last week.

Fulham manager Scott Parker pictured on March 7, 2021© Reuters

Fulham, meanwhile, will be desperate to bounce back after suffering damaging back-to-back defeats against Manchester City and Leeds prior to the international break.

Currently lying two points behind 17th-placed Newcastle United, who also have a game in hand on Scott Parker's side, time is running out for the Cottagers to pull off an excellent escape from relegation, having looked destined for the drop early in the campaign.

Parker could have no complaints with either defeat, with uncharacteristic soft defending costing his side dearly across both games.

Patrick Bamford fired Marcelo Bielsa's side ahead with a powerful finish after Tosin Adarabioyo had lost the in-form forward in the penalty area, before Raphinha pulled the visitors ahead again after Joachim Andersen had equalised from a corner.

Three of Fulham's remaining eight fixtures are against members of the traditional big six (Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United), so every match represents a cup final for Parker's side between now and the end of the campaign in their quest to survive what would be a third relegation to the Championship in only eight seasons.

They would certainly receive a major boost should Grealish's name be absent from Villa's starting XI once again.

Aston Villa Premier League form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • L

Fulham Premier League form:
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L



Team News

Jack Grealish in action for Aston Villa on February 13, 2021© Reuters

Smith has confirmed that Grealish is fit and training again, but the Villa boss understandably remained tight-lipped on whether his captain would start against Fulham.

Given his clear importance to the side, though, the England man would surely have to be further behind in his recovery than Smith has suggested not to be thrown back into the starting XI.

Having endured a period largely being named on the substitutes' bench, Ross Barkley could also be trusted once again, having initially enjoyed a superb understanding with Grealish after joining on loan from Chelsea earlier in the campaign.

Wesley and Kortney Hause have both recovered from their long-term injuries, meanwhile, but are lacking match fitness and are extremely unlikely to be involved.

Fulham will definitely travel without captain Tom Cairney, who has been sidelined since December due to a knee injury. Sunday is also likely to come too soon for goalkeeper Marek Rodak, who is continuing his recovery from a finger injury.

Bobby Reid missed both defeats to Man City and Leeds due to a hamstring injury but could be involved in some capacity, with Ivan Cavaleiro potentially dropping out of the starting XI should Parker consider Reid to be fit enough to provide his usual high levels of industry and movement off the ball.

Aleksandar Mitrovic enjoyed an extremely productive international break, scoring five goals in three matches for Serbia, so could start upfront in place of Josh Maja.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek also provides an option to come into the side in place of the more defensive-minded Mario Lemina or Zambo Anguissa, with the England international's ability between the lines potentially allowing Mitrovic to stay higher up the pitch and attack crosses in the manner he does best.

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, McGinn; Traore, Barkley, Grealish; Watkins

Fulham possible starting lineup:
Areola; Aina, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Robinson; Reed, Anguissa; Reid, Loftus-Cheek, Lookman; Mitrovic


SM words green background

We say: Aston Villa 1-1 Fulham

No side has drawn more matches than Fulham this season, and they may have to settle for a share of the spoils once again in what is likely to be a tight encounter.

Villa fans and neutrals alike will be praying for Grealish's return from injury to provide some attacking stardust into the game, with the hosts' chances of winning set to be significantly boosted by his inclusion.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or draw in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Draw:data


Video prediction

Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:


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How you voted: Aston Villa vs Fulham

Aston Villa
57.8%
Draw
19.5%
Fulham
22.7%
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Jack Grealish in action for Aston Villa on February 13, 2021
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