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Fulham vs Aston Villa preview: Can Aston Villa make the eight by beating Fulham?

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It’s time - a day of reckoning approaches for Aston Villa as they take on Fulham

Aston Villa v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

It seems like Villa are batting 1000 right now. They can’t miss anything chucked their way, and win after win seems to be piling up for Aston Villa.

Still, they’ve got some REALLY big hurdles to overcome before anything is guaranteed, we all know too well how fast things can change in this league. I simply can’t believe I’m saying this, but Aston Villa have a chance to win EIGHT GAMES IN A ROW today.

However, a resilient Fulham side face them, and they might have one eye on second place themselves if they can continue climbing. They are running out of time though, and need to make a big statement.

What to know about Aston Villa

How good are Steve Bruce’s men right now? Their pressing style of play suits them down to the ground. Villa are more than happy to give the ball up and let teams screw up on their own time. Stats? pfft. Give them xG, goals, assists and SOD your possession. Villa play direct and are lethal right now, making up for underperforming earlier in the season.

Are Villa overperforming right now? It’s possible, but still - it brings a bit of needed balance to their season. This stability is nice!

Make no mistake - this is a must win game for Aston Villa who really need to build up as much of a gap as they can between themselves and the other pretenders to the 2nd place spot. Derby dropped points against Sheffield Wednesday, and Cardiff look to be back on track. A win is hugely important for Villa, not just because it’s three points, but because it extends their lead over the top 6. A loss will condense the race for second place to uncomfortable size.

It’s going to be a close game, both teams are really developing a style - so individual talent will win the day. I rate Villa in that aspect, they’ve got talent in spades.

That’s all lead by Jack Grealish who made a statement to English football when he buried Birmingham City with a mature and commanding midfield performance underpinned by grace and resilience. Of course, Grealish is an injury doubt for the match. That is a problem.

My man to watch for this game is Scott Hogan. How did he not score against Blues? His intelligence is only second to his desire to be the man for his team. This is the kind of guy you’d want as a centre-back, with that attitude. But no, he’ll be leading the line for Villa, and he MUST make the best of any chances that come his way. He’s not called Scotty Goals for nothing, though.

What to know about Fulham

Fulham have really come back from the wilderness. After a rather insecure start to the season, Fulham have bounced into promotion contention, and seem to be a favourite for the playoff spots.

Make no mistake though, the pressure is on. Fulham know that they are capable of a meltdown. The type of which will end their season early. They deserve to be back in the Premier League, but out of the current top-six, who doesn’t?

If Tom Cairney plays, expect him to be a danger. The real threat will be from Ryan Sessegnon, the wonderkid can instantly tear a team apart, and Fulham’s patient style belies the crashing threat that this guy can bring. Ahmed Elmohamady will need to be on top form to contend with this young man.

Prediction

3-2, either way. It’s going to be close, but which team scores that third goal? I couldn’t even tell you.