Aston Villa will return to Premier League action this evening when they welcome Scott Parker and his Fulham side to Villa Park.
With news that the government plan to start pilot events where football fans return to stadiums in the near future, there is hope that we could be back at Villa Park for the new season.
Aston Villa still have ten games to contend with this season however and are in very real danger of their season pitting away. The form has not been great since the Covid outbreak in January but having listened to Dean Smith this week, it sounded like the players needed some downtime as much as some us fans needed.
Those who have not played so much and did not go away with the International team played in a behind closed doors friendly against West Bromwich Albion while Smith has stated a lot of work has been done on the shapes in training.
Fulham are fighting for their life and will be a very different prospect to the one we brushed aside earlier in the season at Craven Cottage. Just five players who started that game started in their defeat to Leeds United just before the International break.
Villa will need to be at the top of their game if they are to return to winning ways so it will be interesting to see what, if any, impact the break has had on the players. From a personal point of view, I spoke about needing a Villa break but I am ready for their return today. I just hope the players are feeling fresh and hungry again, also.
Jack Grealish is back in training and available for selection. He has only had a few sessions though so it is unclear whether he will have to settle for a place on the bench or if he will start.
Kortney Hause is also back in full training and is expected to return to the matchday squad.
Wesley on the other hand has stepped up his return by featuring in the behind closed door friendly and the u23’s 4-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday. He did come off in that victory with a knock but it is thought to be more precaution than a concern.
Fulham have no fresh injury concerns following the International break. They will still be without Tom Cairney (knee) and Marek Rodák (finger) for their trip to Villa Park.
Referee: Andy Madley.
Assistants: Adrian Holmes, Simon Long. Fourth official: Robert Jones. VAR: Stuart Attwell. Assistant VAR: James Mainwaring.
DID YOU KNOW
If Aston Villa beat Fulham, it will be their first league double over the Cottagers since 2009/10.
Fulham are unbeaten in their last eight away fixtures, their longest run in the Premier League.
Villa have kept clean sheets in 11 of their 12 Premier League victories this season.
HOW TO FOLLOW
Aston Villa v Fulham will be shown live on Sky Sports Main Event in the UK.
I CANNOT WATCH LIVE
I don’t know why but I feel confident today. Maybe it’s Dean Smith’s reassuring words where he knows we have underperformed of late and highlighted that some of the players needed the break after so many games in such a short period.
Of course, news that Jack Grealish is back in training is certainly positive but as I have already mentioned, it is unclear if he will actually start today.
I have a lot of respect for Scott Parker and the job he is doing at Fulham and I wish them all the best, just not today. Parker is a very honest manager and a breath of fresh air in English football.
Aston Villa 2-0 Fulham