Whites v Villa preview

Friday 1 February 2002

Aston Villa will check on the fitness of goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel after a finger injury. Darius Vassell will also need a fitness test having been forced off with a stomach upset at half-time during the clash with Everton.

Villa (from): Enckelman, Schmeichel, Delaney, Mellberg, Staunton, Samuel, Merson, Boateng, Hendrie, Hadji, Angel, Vassell, Dublin, Barry, Stone, Wright, Balaban, Myhill.

MOST SIGNIFICANT STATS:

Aston Villa - still shell shocked by the sudden departure of manager John Gregory - go to Craven Cottage aiming to extend a five match unbeaten Premiership run, but they may face a Fulham side smarting from Wednesday's 1-0 defeat at Ipswich, which left manager Jean Tigana incensed at his players' performance.

The Cottagers are in 10th place, nine points outside the top six. Villa, who cannot improve on 7th, are ten points outside the top three.

If Aston Villa pick up their first top flight win at Craven Cottage in 37 years, they'll complete only their second ever League 'double' over Fulham in their first Premiership meeting at the west London club.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS:

Total 39: Fulham wins 15 Villa wins 13 Draws

HEAD TO HEAD NOTES:

Aston Villa's first League visit to Fulham in 28 years.

Fulham have won their last three home League meetings with Villa.

The Midlanders' last League win at Craven Cottage was 0-2 on 28 November, 1970 - their only maximum in six League visits over 23 years.

The last time these two met in the top flight at Craven Cottage on 12 November, 1966, Fulham won 5-1 - their biggest ever win over Villa.

Villa's last top flight victory at Fulham was 3-6 in the old League - Division One on 18 September, 1965.

Villa won the reverse fixture 2-0 when Fulham's Louis Sara missed a penalty. The Midlanders are therefore on course for only their second 'double' since the fixture was first contested in 1936. The only other time they achieved the feat was in the 1970/71 season when in the old League - Division Three.

No player has ever been sent off in this fixture, nor has there been a goalless draw.

FULHAM

Current League position 10th 31 points 9 points outside the top 6

Best Scenario at final whistle - Up 2 to 8th If win, and Tottenham [away to Derby] do no better than draw.

Worst realistic scenario at final whistle - Down 3 to 13th If lose, while Southampton [away to Arsenal] and Everton [home to Ipswich] both lose, and Sunderland [away to Man U] also lose but with a 7-goal swing. (Fulham would drop 4 to 14th if also, West Ham [home to Blackburn] win with an inconceivable 14-goal swing.)

Sequences

WON LAST 2 AT HOME - 1 Prem, 1 FAC

CONCEDED ONE GOAL IN EACH OF LAST 3 LEAGUE GAMES

Recent Form

3 wins in last 7 League and Cup games

Won 2 of last 8 Premiership matches

Drawn 2 of last 6 in all competitions

4 draws in last 10 top flight encounters

Lost 1 of last 7

3 defeats in last 7 top division duels

Failed to score in 1 of last 8 contests

Failed to find the net in 4 in last 8 League clashes

4 clean sheets in last 9

Managed 6 clean sheets in last 11 top tier League outings

12 CLEAN SHEETS - 10 in Prem

FAILED TO SCORE 9 TIMES - 9 in Prem

PREMIERSHIP DOUBLES ACHIEVED - 0

PREMIERSHIP DOUBLES SUFFERED - 1

2 RED CARDS - both in Prem

EVER PRESENTS: 2 Steve Finnan - Steed Malbrangue STARTED EVERY GAME: 1 Steve Finnan

COTTAGERS NOTES

One of three clubs to have drawn most matches in the Premiership this season - 10. The others are Chelsea and Bolton.

One of three clubs to have conceded fewest Premiership goals - 23. The others are Chelsea and Leeds.

One of two clubs to have completed most clean sheets at the highest League level - 10. The other is Leeds.

Notched more goalless draws than any other club in the top flight this season - 5.

One of four clubs to have used 21 players in Premiership games this season. No other clubs have used fewer.

Caught offside 43 times and committed 268 fouls in Premiership matches this season - that's fewer than any other club on both counts, according to the FA Barclaycard information sheet.

ASTON VILLA

Current League position 7th 36 points 10 points outside the top 3

Best Scenario at final whistle Cannot improve on 7th but can close the gap on 6th to one point if win, while Chelsea [away to Leicester] lose.

Worst Scenario at final whistle Cannot fall from 7th but would slip to within a point of 8th if lose, while Tottenham [away to Derby] win.

Sequences

UNDEFEATED IN 3 - all Prem [2 wins, 1 draw]

5 UNBEATEN IN PREMIERSHIP [2 wins, 2 draws]

Recent Form

2 wins in last 8 League and Cup games

Won 3 of last 14 Premiership matches

Drawn 3 of last 6 in all competitions

3 draws in last 9 top flight encounters

Lost 5 of last 10

2 defeats in last 8 top division duels

Failed to score in 1 of last 11 contests - 10 in the Prem

1 clean sheet in last 14 - 12 in the Prem

11 CLEAN SHEETS - 7 in Prem

FAILED TO SCORE 7 TIMES - 6 in Prem

PREMIERSHIP DOUBLES ACHIEVED - 1

PREMIERSHIP DOUBLES SUFFERED - 0

1 RED CARD - in Prem

EVER PRESENTS: 0

Potential Career Milestones

Dion DUBLIN is a double strike away from 150 career League goals

If DUBLIN plays, he'll be making his 100th League appearance for Villa

VILLA NOTES
Last Premiership defeat was 1-2 at home to Liverpool on Boxing Day, 26 December, 2001.
Last away Premiership defeat was 3-1 at Derby on 22 December, 2001.

One of four clubs to have used 21 players in Premiership games this season. No other clubs have used fewer.

MAN IN THE MIDDLE - MATT MESSIAS York, North Yorkshire.