Fulham v Aston Villa Match Preview: Darren Bent Bench Requires Christian Benteke To Step Up

The last time Aston Villa tasted failure and subsequent relegation from the top flight was in the 1986-87 season.  After five points in seven matches, this has been Aston Villa’s worst start since then.  Such a beginning for the first time in twenty-six years is not the start that the Villa board and fans will have expected with the appointment of the talented Paul Lambert.

But despite a similar acquisition policy that he had at Norwich City, the signings the ex-Scottish midfielder has made from abroad and the lower English divisions have not flourished to the extent that he might have expected.

One player who he does hope to continue in his current vein of form is Belgium striker Christian Benteke who scored in Belgium’s Group A World Cup qualifying victory over Scotland.  Benteke has kept out Darren Bent, much to the English strikers chagrin.

Stephen Ireland should add some dexterity to the Villa midfield as he returns from injury with a broken wrist bone.  The Irish midfielder should slot back into the Villa side; his off the ball movement and passing range something Lambert will turn to, to see a change of fortunes for the Birmingham side.

Fulham’s promising start to the season sees them sit just one point and one place behind fellow Londoners Arsenal.  The fluidity they have shown in attack is something that manager Martin Jol will be hoping to expand on and will be hoping for a return to fitness of the marquee summer signing who is showing good market value for money, Dimitar Berbatov.  The Bulgarian forward suffered a hip injury two weeks ago.

Hugo Rodallega and a hopeful return from injury for Bryan Ruiz alongside a rejuvenated Damien Duff will only add to the potential defensive problems for Aston Villa.  Duff’s retirement from a struggling Irish international team paving the way for freshness in the Dublin mans approach-play that has been only fleeting in recent seasons.

Unless Stephen Ireland can provide the clever link up play he can potentially create and the Villa front line can deliver on what might not be a litany of chances. Fulham’s strong start to the season should continue and should see a greater gap between the two clubs then the current one of five points.

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