Match Preview: Fulham at Villa Park

We drew this match last season 0-0 and Fulham haven't won at Villa Park since March 1973, which was before I was born, but it also hasn't been a regular fixture since then as we've only played nine other league fixtures at Villa Park since that day when 24,007 people watched Brian Little and Bruce Rioch score for us.

While it might not have been a regular fixture however, it is an even one. Of all the matches we have played Fulham, they have won eighteen, as have we and we have also drawn eighteen matches. So, tomorrow, if either team wins, they'll have the historical beating of the other or the high ground in terms of head to head matches.


I also think it will be a tough match, as they all are these days, but it will be tough because Fulham like to play football and we all saw that last season at Fulham when we lost 3-1 and I suspect, they will come trying to play football again.

After that match, there was a lot of unhappy fans and understandably so. We were given a lesson in that game and towards the end we were even playing with four strikers (Luke Young and Nick Shorey coming off on 64 minutes for Heksey and Reo-Coker), trying to chase it and for those that remember, Fulham were always in control and to use a quote from Glenn Moore from The Independent, "Fulham were comfortable".

I don't think they will be so comfortable tomorrow, regardless of the formation or players O'Neill puts out, as they'll fight for tomorrow and I fancy O'Neill will remind them about the second half in that match. They'll be up for this and I fancy we'll see three points.

I also fancy we'll see Stephen Warnock make his debut, which might be a little harsh on Shorey as he has had a couple of good games recently, but it was actually the Fulham match last season at Fulham, when he walked off quite unhappy, that I think signalled the end for him.

Apart form that change, I also fancy that Curtis Davies might be rested and if he is, I think we will see Shane Lowry get a chance to start and if he and Carlos work well together and can keep a clean sheet, it will do his confidence the world of good.

Keeping a clean sheet though isn't going to be what wins us the game tomorrow, I think we will score two or three and I think that will be what wins us the game. My head says we will play 4-4-2 but my heart says I'd like O'Neill to play 4-5-1, if only to break up the football that Fulham will try and play, but either way, our two teams are very similar and I think it might come down to who wants it more, which is why I fancy, under Martin O'Neill, we will have the beating of Fulham.

Now I know I am banging a drum with this next bit, but the support tomorrow really does have a part to play. A loud Villa Park is intimidating to any team and also rousing for the home players. With the support and our little run of two wins out of two, I just can't see us losing this.

I know there is no basis for it, call it blind faith in the result and my £10 bet on a 3-1 home win.